Is Boston under martial law?

Posted March 28th, 2013 in Boston by davecopeland

Anyone know what is going on with this helicopter flying over Boston? And buzzed the Southeast Expressway at an altitude of no more than 200 feet when I was heading home around 3 pm today and I can still hear it flying over the Charles in Cambridge now, more than two hours later.



Best. Twitter. Follow. Ever.

Posted February 8th, 2012 in Boston by davecopeland

Inside baseball about inside baseball: my take on sports journalism

Posted October 17th, 2011 in baseball, Boston, Journalism, Pittsburgh, Sports by davecopeland

Full disclosure: I have no inside knowledge about what happened in the Boston Red Sox clubhouse during the month of September, or the inner workings of how the Boston Globe’s Bob Hohler compiled his front-page post-mortem last week. I write this speculation simply as someone who was a sports reporter a lifetime ago and later a city desk reporter who got to do the hatchet jobs on Pittsburgh pro sports teams that the sports desk wouldn’t touch.

Here’s a broad generalization about the sports journalists I have known in my career: they are, by and large, super fans, suffering from a Stockholm syndrome of sorts, held hostage by the teams and athletes they cover. Their freedom is an off-the-record or not-for-attribution comment that gives them a minor scoop in the competitive, horse-race nature of covering major league teams.

They will be the first to call a guy out when he’s not playing up to his multi-million dollar contract or question a coach’s late-game strategy decision that led to a loss. But when it comes to reporting the really compelling stuff — stuff like star players drinking beer, eating fried chicken, playing video games and shrugging off instructions from a strength coach — they’re not going to cover it. I have former students who have interned for the Red Sox and NESN, and if they can figure out who is sleeping with whom and who is not doing what they’re supposed to, you’re going to have a tough time convincing me that beat reporters who spend almost every working moment following the team didn’t know at least some of the behind-the-scenes reasons of why the Sox collapsed so spectacularly.

So I wasn’t really surprised that Hohler’s article A) ran after the season ended and B) was written by someone who doesn’t cover baseball — or sports, for that matter — on a regular basis. The Atlantic has a pretty good post-mortem of Hohler’s post mortem, ultimately concluding “Boston’s media outlets, including the Globe itself, [need to] take a hard look at their own rules about covering the beloved team.”

City desk hatchet men

I started my career as a sports journalist before realizing I didn’t like watching sports enough to make a career of it. When I moved to news that brief stint covering high school basketball, college hockey and Legion baseball somehow qualified me to cover the construction of two professional sports stadiums in Pittsburghs. Our task, as city desk reporters, was to look for “the gold plated toilets” worked into the publicly-funded stadium deals the teams got.

As a result, the owners of two professional sports teams have started interviews with me using almost the same exact quote. It’s been awhile but I still remember being asked as we sat down “So…how are you going to fuck me today?”

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This is LITERALLY not news

Posted July 28th, 2011 in Boston, Language, Newspapers, Writing by davecopeland

Promotional photo courtesy NBC

Boston Globe columnist Christopher Muther takes a bow in today’s edition for his column last week about the misuse of the word literally. That comes a month after former Time magazine editor James Geary complained about the misuse of the word in the Guardian.

But both should probably give a figurative pat on the back Jesse Sheidlower, who wrote about this very subject nearly six years ago in Slate(Sheidlower’s piece is a favorite mainstay in my freshman writing classes). As he said then:

Eventually, though, literally began to be used to intensify statements that were themselves figurative or metaphorical. The earliest examples I know of are from the late 18thcentury, and though there are examples throughout the 19th century—often in prominent works; to my earlier examples could be added choice quotations from James Fenimore Cooper, Thackeray, Dickens, and Thoreau, among many others—no one seems to have objected to the usage until the early 20th century. n 1909, Ambrose Bierce included the term in Write it Right: A Little Blacklist of Literary Faults, offering the following sentence—”His eloquence literally swept the audience from its feet.”—as suspect. “It is bad enough to exaggerate,” he wrote, “but to affirm the truth of the exaggeration is intolerable.” Revered usage writer H.W. Fowler complained in his Dictionary of Modern English Usage that, “We have come to such a pass with this emphasizer that … we do not hesitate to insert the very word that we ought to be at pains to repudiate.” The examples usually stigmatized are the ones in which literallymodifies a cliché or a metaphoric use that is already highly figurative.

Or as Muther said last week:

The debate over the misuse of the word can be traced to the 18th or 19th century (depending on whom you ask), and the abuse began gathering legitimacy by 1839, when Charles Dickens wrote in “Nicholas Nickleby’’ that a character “had literally feasted his eyes in silence on his culprit.”

By 1909, Webster’s New International Dictionary noted the misuse according to Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary of English Usage. True scorn for the misuse of “literally’’ began to simmer by the 1920s, when lexicographer H.W. Fowler scolded that it was something “we ought to take great pains to repudiate; such false coin makes honest traffic in words impossible.”

And like Sheidlower did in 2005, Muther notes that many people get “peeved” at the misuse of the word. Muther does, to his credit, do some original reporting and update the argument with plenty of current pop culture references, including one of my favorites, the Rob Lowe character on Parks & Recreation, as well as many of my least favorites (the overuse of the word on reality television).

Boston music nostalgia — The Rat, circa 1986

Posted July 25th, 2011 in Boston, Music by davecopeland

Stolen from the Pixies Facebook page….

Not only do you have the Pixies opening for Throwing Muses on December 13, but you have the Bosstones — before they were Mighty, Mighty — playing what was billed as their final show on December 19 (they reformed in 1987 and added the Mighty, Mighty to their name to avoid potential legal hassles from an a cappella group that had used the name in the 1950′s).

With apologies to friends and “friends” on Patriot’s Day

Posted April 12th, 2011 in Boston, Dating, Friends by Muhammad84G

On Patriot’s Day in 2006 I went on a second date with someone to the Red Sox game. We’re still “friends” on Facebook, but I haven’t seen much of her since.

In 2007 I met friends I now consider even better friends for drinks after they ran the Boston Marathon. I stopped drinking last year, meaning a lot of my old drinking friends are now just friends.

In 2008, the person I spent most of my life calling my “best” friend came into town to see me finish my own crack at the Boston Marathon. We haven’t spoken since late 2009.

In 2009, I ran the last 10 miles of the marathon with a friend of a friend who has since “un-friended” me on Facebook. I kind of despise the idea of using the word “friend” as a verb.

Last, I blew off meeting real good friends on Patriot’s Day to spend the day with a girlfriend. That day was a mess — much like the entire relationship.

This year on Patriot’s Day, I’m taking off on a road trip to look at a PhD program and heading back that night to meet students working on a final project. And I have to admit I’m more than kind of happy that I’ll be playing it safe by altogether avoiding my friends and “friends.”

Note: Edited to change all references to “President’s Day” from “Patriot’s Day,” as originally written. A student caught my error, for which I have no excuse, other than to say at least I was consistently wrong.

Audio: Sports of Boston founder KC Downey

Posted March 23rd, 2011 in Blogging, Boston, Bridgewater State University, Journalism, Sports by Muhammad84G

KC Downey, co-founder and publisher of Sports of Boston, was the guest speaker for my intro to joyurnalism class at Bridgewater State University on Monday. Now 25, Downey started the sports commentary blog about four years ago as a way to gain experience in sports media when jobs were scarce.

The talk (40-minute Windows Media/.WMA file) hopefully inspired a few of my students to think about creating opportunities for themselves as the entry-level job market continues to suck.

Audio: David Brooks at the Kennedy Library

Posted March 22nd, 2011 in Books, Boston by Muhammad84G

I’m still playing around with my digital voice recorder and still trying to attend relatively interesting talks and events, so I’ll keep posting the recordings here.

This is where you can download a Windows Media file (.WMA) of the talk David Brooks gave at the Kennedy Library last Thursday (hence all the bad drinking puns by the guy who introduced him). Brooks, a columnist for the New York Times, was promoting his new book, The Social Animal.

A kinder, gentler, Anthony Bourdain?

Posted March 7th, 2011 in Books, Boston, celebrities, Food, Tv by Muhammad84G

I saw Anthony Bourdain and Chef Eric Ripert in “Good Vs. Evil” at Symphony Hall in Boston Friday night — it was a two-hour, give and take where they traded cooking war stories. Despite initial reservations (no pun intended), the time flew by and I was entertained the entire time. I guess I have spent one too many days at journalism conferences and had forgotten that people talking on stage doesn’t always have to be dull.

It’s no surprise that Bourdain — best-selling author and host of “No Reservations,” arguably the best and most successful show on the Travel Channel — was the main draw (his name was in a bigger type than Ripert’s on the tickets). But Ripert held his own as they covered everything from drug use to ripping apart vegetarians and each other.

“What makes you mad?” Ripert asked Bourdain halfway through the program.

“Olive Garden makes me fucking mad,” Bourdain said before tearing apart chain restaurants and the inability of people to appreciate high-quality ingredients and simple preparations. He also had his usual dose of venom for Food Network Stars, although he seems to be over Emeril bashing and has moved on to picking on Guy Fieri. He did, however, offer some unexpected compliments for Ina Garten.

“I’m not saying I want to spend a weekend at her house,” Bourdain said. “I think things are pretty weird in Ina land. ‘Oh, Jeffery will love this meat loaf!’

Still, it’s hard not to walk away feeling that this is a kinder, gentler Bourdain. He was flying from Boston to Cuba the following morning to film an episode of the current season of “No Reservations,” which is focusing on Third World countries. Time magazine redesigned its culture section in this week’s issue and columnist James Poniewozik resisted the urge to recycle Charlie Sheen jokes and instead focused on “No Reservations:”

In recent years, the show has focused on more posh getaways — Paris, Rome, Dubai. This year Bourdain is turning to troubled spots: Haiti, slipping out of the world’s memory; Cambodia, where a dish of pepper crab is a reminder of the killing off of ethnic Chinese by the Khmer Rouge; Nicaragua, where Bourdain does a segment on churequeros — families that scavenge a garbage dump. “Seeing this,” he says, “I don’t feel so good doing another season where I shove food in my face.”

My date and I both left Symphony Hall liking Anthony Bourdain better. She liked the fact that he came off a little dorkier than he does in his books and television shows. Still cool, but self-deprecating enough to make him more accessible. I liked his practical advice (always show up 15 minutes early for a job) and, when asked why he had never worked at a great restaurant, he didn’t make excuses like some ex-addicts are prone to do. And I liked the fact that he can still name drop and tell fabulous, self-glorifying war stories without, as Bourdain would say, coming as a total douche bag.

Oh, and I can’t plug it enough: we started the night at the Gallows, where my summer camp friend Seth Morrison is the chef. It was the fourth time I had eaten there and each time I find some new food experience to walk away with.

The Ecuadoran murder suspect’s link to the Israeli Mafia

Posted March 3rd, 2011 in Bloodandvolume, Boston, Crime by Muhammad84G

I posted a four-page, .PDF excerpt of Blood & Volume: Inside New York’s Israeli Mafia that deals with many of the same issues Massachusetts prosecutors are facing as they try to charge a 40-year-old Ecuadoran man suspected in the beating deaths of a woman and her two-year-old son in Brockton last month. Luis Guaman fled to his native country, but Massachusetts officials are confident he will be returned to face trial.

Ecuador, like Israel in the 1990′s, has a Constitutional provision that prohibits extradition of its citizens. And, like Israel did with members of the Israeli Mafia that I wrote about in B&V, Ecaudor has promised to try Guaman for his crimes in that country. From the excerpt I posted:

Israel “Alice” Mizrachi and Joe Reich couldn’t outrun their American crime spree…in 1993 — after significant pressure from U.S. authorities — an Israeli judge rules that Mizrachi and Reich could be tried in Israel for their role in the Markowitz murder, even though the murder had been committed in the United States. It was an unprecedented and difficult way to try a case.

A story in today’s Globe about the Guaman case alludes to some of those difficulties:

Plymouth District Attorney Timothy J. Cruz said talks were underway to return Guaman to the United States, despite Ecuador’s constitutional prohibition on extraditing its citizens. Cruz said he “fully expects’’ Guaman to face prosecution here.

“The legal jurisdiction is here, the witnesses are here, the physical evidence is here, and the many experts dedicated to analyzing that physical evidence at the State Police crime lab are here,’’ he said. “This community demands that the perpetrator of those crimes face justice here.’’

Guaman’s return would be a dramatic shift in a case that just days ago seemed destined to take place in Ecuador. Ecuadoran authorities, who are holding Guaman on charges of traveling under a passport with another name, had said Friday that they were cooperating with law enforcement in the United States to proceed with a murder trial there, using evidence gathered in the United States.

If tried in Ecaudor, my money is on an acquittal for Guaman (Mizrachi and Reich were acquitted in Israel on the murder charges, although Mizrachi was convicted of smuggling four kilos of heroin from Amsterdam to New York by a jury in Jerusalem. When he was released from prison he reportedly led a law-abiding life and worked as a florist before being killed in a car bombing, presumably as retribution for misdeeds in New York, in 2003).

Read another excerpt and more about “Blood & Volume,” or order your copy.

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