Democracy Brewing

A brewpub opened near my office over the summer. Fittingly, Democracy Brewing opened on July 4. A friend and I checked it out a few weeks after it opened. The beer and the food were good. Not amazing level but solid level.

I was so busy enjoying the beer that I forgot to take a photo before drinking it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The space is cozy and hip and the prices are reasonable. What a score for downtown Boston. And even better, it’s a worker-owned company. Worth a visit, Bostonians!

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City Winery

A new music venue has been open for almost a year, so my friend and I checked it out recently. City Winery is a national chain so I was expecting it to be kind of “meh.” But I liked the vibe there. The place has a large bar and restaurant area outside of the music venue, which is a small-ish low-lit room filled mainly with long tables with chairs.

My friend and I sat in the back because the seats were cheaper, but we enjoyed the experience more because we were sitting at a two-person hightop and had a nice view of the stage (where the blue light is in the photo).

 

 

 

 

 

 

We saw Brazilian musician Seu Jorge. He arrived on my radar when I saw Wes Anderson’s The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou. He performed Bowie songs in Portuguese in the film.

He has an amazing deep voice and seems like a charmer. He invited his daughter on stage to perform a Nina Simone song, which was a crowd pleaser.

We ordered special wine (which was made from grapes from the Finger Lakes, near my hometown), so that was fun, and we both enjoyed our meals.

Next time I might splurge on seats closer to the stage, because since we were in the back, we kept being blinded by people taking photos and videos with their smartphones every few minutes. Grr.

 

Touring My Own Neighborhood (and City)

One of the reasons I enjoy working on a birthday list every year is that it gets me out into my own neighborhood and city and helps me appreciate all that is at my doorstep.

A friend and I recently took a historic walking tour of a local neighborhood. I’ve lived in the same three-mile radius for 17 years, and this was the first walking tour I’d taken in the area. It was nice to take the time to look at local architecture and hear some historical facts about the neighborhood. One woman on the tour had grown up in the area, and it was cool to hear her share firsthand knowledge of the changes over time.

Local Art Deco building

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In the same time period, I took my first Boston by Foot walking tour. I don’t know what took me so long! I went on the “Dark Side of Boston” tour. The volunteer tour guide was great, and I learned some new things about Boston. I learned that the North End neighborhood used to be extremely dodgy and was called the Black Sea.

I learned that Charles Ponzi, the man behind the Ponzi scheme, created his scheme in Boston. I put a misconception to rest: I thought the Boston Strangler killed his victims in the 1800s; I guess I equated him with Jack the Ripper? Nope, the Boston Strangler was killing his victims in the 1960s. The tour guide grew up in the Boston area and remembered that his neighbors started locking their doors during that time.

There wasn’t much of a dark side to the story of the narrowest house in Boston…just your run-of-the-mill brotherly spite. A father left land to his sons when he died, and the one son built a huge house and left his brother very little land. That brother went ahead and built a house on the tiny spot. The guide said that the house recently sold for $800K. That’s Boston real estate for you…

Skinny house

Turtle Swamp Brewing

Some friends and I went to a local brewery called Turtle Swamp Brewing one recent glorious Friday afternoon. A couple of us work for an employer that bids us adieu at 3:00 on Fridays in the summer, so we were waiting for the doors of Turtle Swamp to open at 4:00.

 

 

 

 

 

 

We bought beers and staked our claim at a prime spot on the outdoor patio. The weather was perfect and we spent hours there, drinking really good beer (mostly IPAs and pale ales). The food truck that was scheduled to appear had cancelled, so we did an online search for nearby establishments and called in a large pizza.

Being a fan of IPAs and pale ales, I enjoyed the beer and the neighborhood vibe of the patio. I will find my way there some other Friday afternoon this summer…

A History of Saving Lives

I spent two enlightening afternoons at two of Boston’s more off-the-beaten-path museums: the Russell Museum of Medical History and Innovation and the Boston Fire Museum.

The Russell Museum gives a historical overview of Massachusetts General Hospital, or MGH, as we locals say. Founded in 1811, MGH is the third-oldest hospital in the U.S.

Russell Museum, Boston

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It’s not a large museum, but the artifacts on display are interesting. There is everything from medical instruments from the 1800s to a virtual dissection table that a docent operates for visitors.

Medicine chest from the 1800s

 

 

Virtual dissection table

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I learned that the hospital performed the first arm replantation in 1962, dental insurance didn’t exist in the U.S. until the 1950s, and researchers are studying Weddell seals—who can hold their breath for up to an hour when diving—to gain insight on how to help people with conditions associated with low tissue oxygen levels. I’m not big into science and medicine, but I found it fascinating. Definitely worth a visit.

I thought I would be in and out of the Boston Fire Museum in under an hour.

Boston Fire Museum

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The museum is in one big room, which used to be an actual firehouse. When I arrived, there was a children’s birthday party going on, so I quietly strolled along and looked at a number of old fire engines, a display about the devastating Cocoanut Grove fire in 1942, and artifacts such as “clackers” used in colonial times to wake up sleeping families to alert them of a fire or other emergency.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I had just finished looking at a black-and-white photo of a firefighter emerging from a house fire on a Boston street. The photo was taken in the 1960s; I forget the rank of the firefighter, but he was pretty high up. His lungs were severely damaged during the fire, but he survived. The photo caption also said his three sons were firefighters.

Cue an older gentleman in a red volunteer shirt approaching from stage right, pointing at the photo and saying, “That’s my father.”

Paul and I ended up talking for TWO HOURS. This is what happens when you pair a curious person with a person who exudes passion for his life’s work. He gave me a rundown of his firefighting career. He explained the alarm bell system and all of the different symbols on the helmets that were hanging from the ceiling. Being an animal person, I had to ask him about the horses who used to pull the engines (there was a stable in the back of the firehouse/museum). I’ve always respected firefighters, but my respect reached a new level that day. And it was just a joy to talk with someone who was so dedicated to his career.

Another amazing thing about both museums is that they are free of charge. They gladly accept donations, and I gladly left a donation on my way out.

 

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40 things to do on the birthday list!

BirthdayJune 1st, 2015

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