Tag Archives: Boston

Hair so big it could block out the sun

Cynthia Closkey, circa 1984

I’ve been invited to a birthday party next month, the theme of which is "1980s Prom." The theme was chosen because Ann, the birthday girl, was born in April 1984.

I didn’t go to my senior prom — prom dates were hard to come by in my all-girls school, but I wasn’t inclined to attend even if I could find one. Most of my class did though. I’m sure at least a few of them were shopping for dresses on the day Ann was born.

I could go to the party dressed in my high school uniform, but I don’t want to frighten anyone.

I’m instead going to dress as someone who would have attended a rock show in Boston in the 80s. A show, for example, like this performance by Human Sexual Response of "What Does Sex Mean to Me?"

I didn’t arrive in Boston until 1984 so I missed seeing HSR. But I was a big fan of the Zulus, a band that included former HSR members Larry Bangor (singing lead on this song), Rich Gilbert (playing guitar; later to join Frank Black’s band for a while, now making music in Nashville), and Malcolm Travis (drums, later played with Bob Mould’s band Sugar).

A close approximation of my late 80s club attire can be found in this Echo and the Bunnymen video, "Lips Like Sugar." The two girls at 0:14 seem to have both raided my closet and stolen my hairspray. (I don’t know where they came up with the outfits they wear later in the video though.)

I am looking forward to firing up my crimping iron and creating some big, big hair.

“I’ve never thought twice about the safety”

convention_center_collapse.jpgI’ve been on a video shoot this morning, so I haven’t read much of anything about the convention center collapse in Pittsburgh. But from what I’ve read so far here here and here, the David L. Lawrence Convention Center seems to be turning into Pittsburgh’s version of Boston’s John Hancock Tower.

The building’s most dangerous and conspicuous flaw was its faulty glass windows. Entire 4′ x 11′, 500 lb (1.2×3.4 m, 227 kg) windowpanes detached from the building and crashed to the sidewalk hundreds of feet below. Police closed off surrounding streets whenever winds reached 45 mph (72 km/h). According to the Boston Globe, MIT built a scale model of the entire Back Bay in its Wright Brothers Wind Tunnel to identify the problem. The exact cause of the malfunction was never revealed due to a legal settlement and gag order. Most now diagnose the problem as a combination of the double-paned glass construction method, and the pressure differentials between the inside and outside air. [citation]

At least it was cheaper and didn’t take as long as the John Hancock. And our deathtrap is much prettier. Pretty/dangerous


View from a hotel bar in Boston Saturday night in Boston, and I’m too tuckered to take advantage of it. Between late night discussions the last two nights and early morning start times each day (OK, 9am, but it felt early), I’m worn thin.

So I’ve settled for a few moments in the hotel bar. I love hotel and airport bars, the feeling of transience and the little ways we spoil ourselves when we’re away from home. I’m able to pick up the hotel wi-fi here, and I’m watching the various couples and groups, and the cabs and others cars struggling through the construction and pedestrian traffic outside.

The bar stereo is playing John Coltrane, but I also hear The Hollies’ "Long Cool Woman in a Black Dress" leaking down from a party in the mezzanine. A couple on a couch in front of me has had an argument and is trying to find common ground. A guy behind me is telling his female companion about what he does, explaining why it’s so very hard and how something he accomplished recently is important.

I’m sitting at a table by the window. A guy walking by just gave me the thumbs-up — I’m guessing because he saw the glowing Apple logo on my computer.

I’m sipping on a Sazarac.


1 1/2 oz. Bourbon (in this case, Old Overholt Rye)
1/2 tsp. Pernod
3 dashes Peychaud Bitters
twist Lemon
2 tsp. Sugar Syrup

Coat rocks glass with Pernod. In shaker (no ice) mix Bourbon, sugar syrup and Bitters. Shake and pour into glass. Add lemon twist.

It’s a classic New Orleans cocktail. I’ve never made it because I can’t easily get Peychaud bitters — so I was thrilled to see this drink on the menu. This is a perfect example of what makes hotel lounges great: they make the classic cocktails, and they make them right. In this case, I feel like I’ve found my ideal cocktail. It’s sweet (not too sweet), it’s tart, it’s spicy, it’s red, It’s eccentric, it’s grand. This drink is perfect, and every now and then I hear the bartender shaking up something else delightful for some other patron. So nice.

Outside, the trees around Faneuil Hall are clothed in lights — holiday season. At Starbucks yesterday I heard my first Christmas music for the year. It’s still too early for this stuff. Wait until next Friday at least.

Since I was cooped up in the Media Lab building for the last two days and missed walking through the MIT campus in daylight, for tomorrow morning I’m planning to head back over the Longfellow Bridge and wander a little. My back is a nest of knots, from the tensions of travel and from sitting in auditorium seats for hours on end, and I need to move around more. Then I’ll head to the airport, try to catch some of the Steeler game on a TV somewhere. Not likely though — the Patriots are sure to be playing at the same time. Then I’ll be back in Pittsburgh, then Butler.

Much to do in the coming weeks. Lots of work for clients, a new venture to move ahead, plus Thanksgiving and another trip — to Baltimore for another event.

Now from the event upstairs coming the unmistakable sounds of Numa Numa. I boggle at the convergences coming down on me. (Here’s a detailed history of the Numa Numa phenomenon.)

‘m listening to the conversation to my right: It’s a couple of generations, mostly sisters in their (I’m guessing) 60s, with a spouse and a child or two, describing a past event in classic Boston accents. I should know which neighborhood they’re from — I’m tempted to say South End but I’m unsure.

Now from upstairs we’ve got "You Shook Me All Night Long," and it’s clear that I need to wrap it up for the night.

But I feel a need to come up with a final thought.

(Now the upstairs DJ has mixed together Guns and Roses’ "Sweet Child of Mine" and something else that’ll come to me in a minute. It might even be a cover of "Sweet Child." Gotta wrap this and retire for the night, or I’ll have to crash that party for the sheer ridiculousness.)

The hotel lobby has made a transition from wayplace for the weary traveler to gathering spot for eager visitors. I dislike drawing a labored parallel with the discussions of the conference. but it’s so easy to see disparate groups of people within the same physical markets, ships passing in the night. The trick of this lobby is making everyone feel welcome, and to a great extent it succeeds. That’s what each online space wants to do too. And to make money along the way, if possible.

But that’s not a final thought … because each time the environment changes, our expectations change. The key skills become agileness, nimbleness, adaptability. Great companies are those that are able to focus on the bottom line while fully supporting their clients.

Is that different from the rest of the world? No. My lasting thought for the night is that everything has changed, yet I need to continue on the current course. The thoughts can’t be reconciled, but they have to be.

The fun bit is that this is a world in which I’m completely comfortable. For me, that’s the best result of all.