Friday, April 23, 2010

Spring Cleaning

We often complain about litterbugs around here, but the truth is, most of Lynn really does care about being clean, which is evident in the amount of cleanups taking place this Spring.

Tomorrow, I know of at least three:
Lynn Woods Earth Fest (see flyer below)
Lynn & Nahant Beach - Meet at Ward Bathhouse, 9am (Free T-shirts)
Lynn Common - Meet across from the Boys and Girls Club, 11am (Free refreshments)

And then...
Henry Ave. Park Hoop - Celebration and Spring Cleaning on Saturday, May 1st at 11AM up at the Park.
East Lynn Community Association is pre-registering participants at their May 5th meeting at Temple Ahabat Sholom at 7:00 p.m. for...
...“Clean Sweep, a citywide cleanup on June 12 co-sponsored by the ELCA and Friends of Lynn and Nahant Beach. It will conclude with a cookout and two live bands at Red Rock Park for participants." (Thanks to Lynn-side Edition for posting this)

Thursday, April 22, 2010

I need to thank the Item for something

On April 21st, The Daily Item of Lynn ran "Nahant family shares meals with Web"

When it first ran, I skipped over it on Itemlive. I'm more of an improvisational kind of cook. I don't get excited by recipes.

I was siting in Tatiana's Restaurant enjoying my gluten-free Greek Salad and Spanish Rice when my friend Nigel pointed the story out in the print edition. Had I known it was for a gluten free (wiki) website,  you'd have seen this blog post a little sooner!

You'll notice the wiki mentions Celiac Disease. It's a major reason why so many people are forced to go on gluten free diets. Trust me, it's not some new kind of diet fad, nor should it be. The Item mentions gluten allergies and gluten intolerance, which are different. In any case, the diet that must be followed must not contain any traces of wheat, barley, rye, spelt, and for some, oats.

Your guess is as good or better than mine as to why there's an uptick in gluten intolerance and celiac. There's also been a major increase in food allergies. Maybe we should leave that sort of speculation to the supposed experts.

It's a life-changer, though. Like other Lynn bloggers, I try to promote and patronize area shops and restaurants. But now I can only frequent a few. And let me throw another wrench in that; I've been a vegetarian for almost twenty years - long enough that going back to meat is not an option.

Going into Cambridge, Somerville, Watertown and Boston opens up a wider possibility for restaurants. But I found in my travels beyond New England, more understanding and a wider variety of GF and veggie dining options. I can't begin to explain why, outside of the fact that New Englanders are more creatures of habit than people in other regions. We're a little slow to certain kinds of changes. If that's the way it always was, that's the way it should remain.

But another reason why I have a tough time in Lynn, specifically, is because our ethnic restaurants are more authentic. For most, that's a great thing! However, menu items that would be gluten free and vegetarian in a Jamaica Plain or Cambridge burrito joint actually contain pork or chicken stock and even lard here. And there's a clear lack of understanding, cultural or whatever it is, as to what is truly vegetarian. So, menu items are often mislabeled. I'll be disappointed if I accidentally ingest an animal product, but sick and in pain if I accidentally ingest gluten. It takes courage to try a new restaurant. And trust.

I need to thank the Item for helping to bring this issue to light and for the promotion of the good work Paul and Elaine Caira are doing with

I also want to publicly thank the following eateries in Lynn who have listened:

Turbine Wine Bar - Wine is gluten free by default, but they also have a gluten free beer, a flourless chocolate cake and gelato!

Tatiana's - For making an excellent Spanish Rice and Greek Salad

Capitol Diner - They take care to keep my eggs and potatoes away from bread and pancakes

Christopher's Cafe - For the Spanish Omelette sans-toast and a side of fruit

Fernando's - Juan makes a great breakfast at a great price. (I'm looking forward to the Culture Fest he's organizing)

A few special mentions for places just outside of Lynn:

Yan's China Bistro in Swampscott has a gluten-free section on their menu.

Salem Diner has gluten free bread. It's not on the menu, but ask for it as the "Pesky" bread. Yes, the sports guy.

Passage to India in Salem is a must, because unless you order nan, most Indian dishes are gluten free and many are vegetarian.

Artist: Galaxie 500
Song: Here She Comes Now (Velvet Underground cover)

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Today is Record Store Day

"The original idea for Record Store Day was conceived by Chris Brown, and was founded in 2007 by Eric Levin, Michael Kurtz, Carrie Colliton, Amy Dorfman, Don Van Cleave and Brian Poehner as a celebration of the unique culture surrounding over 700 independently owned record stores in the USA, and hundreds of similar stores internationally." -

Some people are surprised that I still have turntables. Counting the non-working ones, I have four. And turntables are still manufactured by hundreds, if not thousands of companies throughout the world. Records are still pressed in the United States and abroad, even of some major-scale releases. If it weren't for the fact that I'd have to hire roadies to carry the equivalent in vinyl of the amount of music I carry digitally to a DJ gig, I'd still play it out. Nothing beats it. Not CD's. Definitely not lossy ear-bleed inducing mp3's.

Science backs up the claim that vinyl is superior, even with its occasional surface noise, but I'll leave you to scour the internet for that data on your own, as I'm sure most of you would skip over this paragraph anyway. To the layperson, something should be obvious by just looking at a closeup of a digital vs. analog waveform. Or, just listen to a properly setup rig.

And when you play your records, make sure you have a proper setup. The affordable way to do this is with a good used table that's had a once-over by a qualified tech. If you have money to burn, it's all in what you want to spend. Anywhere between $300 to $24,000(no joke..) can get you a decent new table. But $300-$600 will do just fine. Then, you'll notice most home receivers, marketed more for home theater these days, lack proper "phono" inputs. Without them, you can not connect your turntable. A so-called phono pre can set you back another $100 or more if you want respectable sound. Don't settle for a cheap one. Another option is to buy a used, old integrated amp or receiver, which will likely have a decent phono pre already in it. And if you're halfway handy with Google and Bing, you won't need me to tell you where to find this stuff. Oh yeah, and good equipment doesn't come with a set of same-branded speakers. Put in a little effort, people!

So wait, what about those Ion USB turntables? The answer is that they're simply awful. Avoid them like the plague, as well as the mp3's being traded over the internet made from them. They suck at playing records. That's the problem. If you want to digitally archive your collection, you'll want a proper turntable and a proper sound card or outboard USB interface into your computer. Irresponsible fools are sending awful mp3's of rare and out of print recordings into the wild because of this mass produced trinket.

So back to Record Store Day...
I'm sad to report I don't know of any proper record store in Lynn anymore. But here's where you can spend your hard earned dollars on these aural  treats:

Record Exchange
256 Washington Street,
Salem, MA 01970-3641
(978) 745-0777

Mystery TrainAddress:
21 Main Street
Gloucester, MA 01930-5708
(978) 281-8911

Newbury ComicsAddress: 
240 Andover Street
Peabody, MA 01960-1537
(978) 531-9713

In Your Ear Records  
957 Commonwealth Ave 
Boston, MA 02215 
(617) 787-9755

All these stores also carry CD's, other formats and other items...
Plus, there are more, which you can add in comments if you'd like. I wanted to spotlight the ones I know of on the North Shore in addition to a personal favorite in Boston.

Record Store Day on FB

Artist: The Sea and Cake
Song: Hotel Tell

Thursday, April 8, 2010

My leap into the Allcare discussion

After making several comments on other posts and speaking up at Tuesday's Neighborhood Meeting, I've decided to summarize my positions in a single, easily digestible post.

Generally speaking, I'm in favor of something going in that spot.

-To obscure the parking garage eyesore
-To build up our density and close the gap from the waterfront to Market St
-To bring more employees and visitors downtown

However, I am opposed to these specifics of Allcare VNA's current plans.

Setback and scale - too far
The proposed structure is too far removed from the streetscape, making the area seem more like a suburban office park and commuter-lot than an active downtown community.

Lack of retail
I have not been convinced the current state of the economy is reason enough to omit retail spaces, that can be filled as the economy improves. I also believe they will be filled faster, because they're visible from 1A, and contrary to the beliefs of those who are clearly out of touch with the new downtown, we're already pulling in people from Swampscott and Marblehead.

Architecture - lacks creativity and vision
At the Neighborhood Meeting we were told it was designed to blend in with Eastern Bank and NSCC. If they're going to try this one as a selling point, they clearly don't know their target audience as well as they think they do. These are some of the most reviled structures in our community, looks-wise. They would fit in with an office park along the 128 belt, but they're the antithesis of the style of development called for in reviving urban centers. A good architect can do better with the same budget, I'm sure. I'll ask my architect friends about this.

That darn fence - lose it already!
It's a feature in the proposal that seems to be universally hated and meagerly defended. Can we just knock this off the plan already? I don't even get the impression Allcare really wants it. It's to keep out trash, they say, but trash will blow up against it and over it. It's not an alternative solution to regular park maintenance. It's not a nice way to say "Welcome to Lynn."

I hate to be amongst those saying "Hold on a minute" when an organization wants to invest in Lynn. I want to move forward. I want more structures. I just don't want the sort of design that's going to scare away the other progress we're making downtown with new people and new businesses. I don't want people to pass by downtown and see nothing but an office park, fences and barrier shrubs on its outward face.

And what happened to the Market St. Vision Plan, anyway? Is it filed away never to be looked upon again?

Artist: Swell Maps
Song: Big Empty Field

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Last minute post.

After posting this on and on the LH calendar as soon as it was announced, I wasn't going to crosspost further. On further thought, I have an excuse to repost because I'm also taking this opportunity to inform my readers that I will record video for those who can not make it. The videos will be posted on LH and over on as soon as they're ready, likely within 48 hrs. They will be un-edited. I'd rather give people an unfiltered account, and if I have to write or speak about it, I might just have to include my point of view.

A larger hearing before the entire City Council is scheduled for Tuesday, April 13th at 8:00pm.


Neighborhood Meeting on Allcare VNA Tuesday, April 6th, 6:30pm City Hall

March 31, 2010
Dear Neighbor:
Please consider this letter a formal invitation to a Neighborhood Meeting on Tuesday, April 6, 2010 at 6:30 p.m. in Room 302 at City Hall.
The purpose of this meeting is to discuss the proposed plan by All-Care VNA to construct a building on the corner of Market Street and Broad Street.
In attendance will be representatives from VNA as well as James Cowdell, Executive Director of EDIC and James Marsh, Director of Economic & Community Development to answer any and all questions.  Your input, ideas and suggestions will be greatly appreciated on this matter.
Thank you and we look forward to seeing you on April 6th.
Very truly yours,
Timothy Phelan                                 Brendan P. Crighton
Council President                              Councillor Ward Five