Saturday, January 29, 2011



by Archie Mazmanian

I have a vague memory of being at Magazine Beach as an infant with my parents, vague in that the memory was stirred when my family moved from Somerville to Roxbury in the mid 1930s where I was about to start the second grade. My father would bring a daily newspaper home from work; I recall in the summer months during heat waves reading references to certain counts at Magazine Beach that would result in “no swimming” allowed. My mother told me of taking my brother and me to Magazine Beach.

My next memory of the Charles River was as a pre-teen when my best friend and I on a hike from Roxbury to the Museum of Fine Arts discovered the Muddy River, exploring it to the Charles River. We noticed the abundance of carp, large and small, mostly black but some golden that we were told resulted from goldfish flushed in toilets. We tried to catch carp with drop lines using bread balls as bait but with no success; and worms didn?t work either. (Many years later, as a father, I explored the Boston side of the Charles River with my children, noting the many golden carp in the River this side of the Muddy River dam, recalling to them my earlier adventures.)

My best friend and I became interested in fishing from reading magazines. We bought fishing rods with bait casting reels. We learned about opening day for freshwater fishing and the stocking of trout, including in the Charles River. According to a sports column in a Boston newspaper, a great spot for catching trout was the Charles River in Dover. We were amazed when we studied a map of the River as it wended its way upstream many miles to Dover through many communities that we knew nothing about.

We checked train schedules to Dover and planned our trip to catch trout on opening day. We got to a rail station in Dover early in the morning and asked for directions to get to the bridge in Dover that was the hot spot for trout. We started walking when a Post Office truck stopped and asked where we were going and gave us a ride to the bridge. We were excited as we prepared to wet our lines and catch us some trout.

This was the first time we had fished with rod and reel. In my anxiety, I neglected to properly seat my reel in the rod and with my first cast the reel slipped into the River. Fortunately, I had knotted the line to the reel so that I was able to retrieve it by pulling up the line, all of it. Opening day was cold. We were unsuccessful in even getting a bite. So after a couple of hours, we decided to head home. We walked back to the train station and learned that it would be several hours at least before a train was scheduled for a return trip. So we asked about how we might get back to Roxbury.

We were told of a bus route that would get us to Watertown Square, where there was a Boston Elevated trolley line that would get us home. When we arrived at Watertown Square, we noticed the Charles River, much wider than at the bridge in Dover. But we were hungry and took the A Line trolley at Watertown Square into Boston and with several transfers home to Roxbury, weary, hungry and rejected with our first efforts at opening day fishing. The Charles River was not very accommodating.

[Part II will include subsequent encounters with the Charles River at Watertown Square.]

Friday, January 28, 2011

Politically incorrect to question MIT’s construction in the Charles?

1. Introduction.
2. A word from the bad guys.
3. The notice.
4. Response.

1. Introduction.

I have been passing on relevant state environmental notices a list in Cambridgeport for some time.

This is the first time anybody has responded that it is politically incorrect to wonder about somebody building in the Charles.

2. A word from the bad guys.

>In the Environmental Monitor report linked below is a listing for a Chapter 91 application in Cambridge.
>On following that posting, it turns out that MIT apparently wants to cover 13,940 square feet of the Charles River and be exempted from environmental protections in the process.

Just to clarify, here's what MIT is asking:
"Public notice is hereby given of the application by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to install and maintain approximately 13,940 square feet of floats at the MIT Sailing Pavilion located at 134 Memorial Drive in the municipality of Cambridge in and over formerly flowed tidelands of the Charles River. The proposed use of the project is to provide for docking and boating access to navigable waters and is a water dependent project."

Though I'm not sure, this may be just an extension or revision of the permit that has existed at that location for a long time. In any case, what objection could there be to this?

3. The notice.

4. Response.

“In any case, what objection could there be to this?”

Last I heard, it was politically correct to be concerned about the environment of the Charles River. I have had one city councilor who rather clearly is associated apparently with the writer brag that Cambridge Pols have their own secret definition of environmentalism. According to this city councilor, it is politically incorrect to support the world’s definition of environmentalism,

Then again, there is a minor matter of the state, with the support of MIT and a lot of pols, working to destroy hundreds of Memorial Drive trees between Magazine Beach and the Longfellow Bridge. It is politically incorrect to be concerned about this massive destruction or about the dumping of poisons on Magazine Beach, or the heartless animal abuse associated with many bizarre projects.

Then again, I am told it is politically incorrect to wonder about the proposed / possible severe downgrading of Worcester/Framingham rail service.

I hear it is politically correct and pro-transportation to fight to change that service

a. from grade separate service to a South Station whose trackage is being increased in size for South Coast Rail with future connections to heavy rail subway at Yawkee / Kenmore Stations,

b. to grade crossings in Cambridge and a longer trip to North Station.

The key aspect to declaration of political correctness could be benefit to MIT.

Now, I see a pattern, a pattern which has been very much nonstop from the Cambridge pols as long as I have had the displeasure to be forced to be associated with them.

I am concerned about the world, and when I hear that it is politically incorrect to wonder about construction in the Charles because it “may be just an extension or revision”, of already destructive behavior, I have very real questions about what I am being told is political correctness.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

BU Bridge area traffic configurartion

1. Archie Mazmanian Reports.
2. Editor’s Elaboration.

1. Archie Mazmanian Reports.

The 1/17/11 Boston Globe, at page 2 of the Metro section, features "BU bridge lane configuration is temporary" in addressing a question from a Brookline resident (not me).

The response from MassDOT is most interesting, as it includes a description of the final configuration when construction is concluded in December of this year (any bets?) that demonstrates the strong power of the bicycle lobby. In addition, the response makes reference to the Commonwealth Avenue bridge over the MA Turnpike Extension that will need replacing, but provides no timeframe.

The BU Bridge area will surely remain messy (on both the Boston and Cambridge sides) until the Commonwealth Avenue bridge work is completed.

And then the future may provide further messes with the proposed Charles River crossing for Phase 2 of the Urban Ring project under the BU Bridge via the Grand Junction Rail Line and on the Boston side via a viaduct under the Boston end of the Bridge to University Road via the courtesy of Boston University over its property.

This is on line at: .

2. Editor’s Elaboration.

Checking Google Maps, the Commonwealth Avenue bridge over the Mass. Pike for all practical purposes is the intersection of the BU Bridge and Commonwealth Avenue. On the south side, it extends pretty much to the Carlton Street Bridge (which continues to the Storrow Drive access road). On the north side, it extends to about the western end of the 808 Commonwealth Avenue building on the south side of the street.

The roadway Archie mentions which is proposed under the BU Bridge would pretty much go straight through the middle of the BU Building which is currently sitting in the block east of the BU Bridge. Naturally, that building would not survive.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011


Archie Mazmanian comments, in response to my post at

Your recent post triggered fond memories of Sesame Street when my kids were quite young, especially its "Schoolhouse Rock" ditties that helped prepare kids for school (and entertained parents), including "CONJUNCTION JUNCTION, WHAT'S YOUR FUNCTION?".

The Grand Junction brouhaha might be parodied with "GRAND(IOSE) JUNCTION, WHAT'S YOUR FUNCTION?". The key word is of course "FUNCTION" but that is also the mystery. This seems to be a "GRAND(IOSE)" idea but what is lacking is a vision of the "FUNCTION" and its connections.

Perhaps "GRAND(IOSE) minds at Harvard and MIT have something in mind for their institutions with trickle down benefits for us mere residents, except of course our Charles River White Geese whose gaggle would be further gagged.

Friday, January 07, 2011

Cambridge con artists propose move of Worcester/Framingham trains to Grand Junction

1. General.
2. The unbeatables just got beat.
3. The con — harming the folks they claim to be helping.
4. The Urban Ring Subway.
5. The losers cry they can’t lose.

1. General.

The Cambridge Day newspaper, at , has, I am told, reported on plans for a rather bizarre passenger rail passenger route through Cambridge, with environment damage and more animal abuse at the Charles River. This route would be very severely harmful to the Charles River White Geese.

The report gave the impression that the proposal was supported by Cambridge City Councilor Leland Cheung. Cheung, according to the paper, seems to be defending this pretty much on the grounds that it is politically correct.

The actual quote reads: “The reality is, when you look at who’s behind it — the people who are involved with it already — it’d be a stretch to think we could stop it from happening,” Cheung said after the meeting, referring to the Grand Junction line. “I’ve been doing a lot of work to try to at least get a stop in Cambridge. If they’re going to come through, the worst thing would be for them to go through and not even stop in the city.”

Councilor Cheung has major support in the MIT and Harvard communities.

The English translation of Cheung’s quoted position is that stops in Cambridge could make moving Framingham/Worcester commuters to the Grand Junction more palatable. One of those likely stops would be highly destructive to the Cambridgeport neighborhood. The on grade crossings would be highly destructive to the heavy Cambridge road traffic.

There is a lot going on here and, as usual, a lot not being said.

The most common aspect to the Cheung position is one I have been hearing almost nonstop from the bad guys for the past 35 years: You can’t win. You can’t win. You can’t win. BUT HAVE I GOT A DEAL FOR YOU.

I have been hearing these pitches and hearing these pitches. I have a lot of victories during that period. Usually my chance of success gets better the further I keep the people making these pitches away from me.

As now, it is always nearly impossible to tell if somebody regurgitating the standard con is a con artist or a victim. The con situation in Cambridge is so normal that whether a particular person is con or victim is irrelevant. The followers follow very belligerently.

2. The unbeatables just got beat.

These unbeatable people seem to be going for this rail line BECAUSE THEY JUST LOST A VERY MAJOR VOTE AT THE HANDS OF THE LEGISLATURE.

The loss was with legislature’s vote to rebuild Yawkee Station where it is and funding that vote with $20 million.

3. The con — harming the folks they claim to be helping.

The con artists are highly destructive to the environment and keep pushing transportation proposals which may line their or their friends' pockets or expand their royal domain but which are inferior to the alternative transportation proposals.

Moving Framingham/Worcester commuters to the Grand Junction will be very destructive to the Charles River environment and its animals, and will be very harmful to Cambridge, both with regard to the sudden appearance of at working grade crossings and trains using them, and with the harm to neighborhoods that will be caused by the stations the con artists want.

The con artists cry over commuting needs of Framingham/Worcester while the con artists fight against those needs.

They cry that Framingham/Worcester needs more station tracks to park their trains. The con artists neglect to mention that South Station, where Framingham/Worcester now goes, is in the process of a massive expansion forced by the South Coast rail project. The state is buying and destroying the adjacent South Postal Annex to put tracks there. Those tracks are much more than is needed by South Coastal. Those tracks can support expansion of Framingham/Worcester.

The reality is that the con artists are fighting to move Framingham/Worcester to the Grand Junction because the con artists lost the key legislative vote which spent something like $20 million to rebuild Yawkee Station.

Moving Framingham/Worcester to the Grand Junction would make Yawkee Station quite useless.

4. The Urban Ring Subway.

The real fight is over the Urban Ring subway system which I have been working on for 25 years.

This proposed new subway line would connect Charlestown/Orange Line to East Cambridge / Green Line to Kendall / Red Line to Mass. Ave. / MIT rail crossing and then cross the Charles River by either of two routes. On the Boston side, they would connect to the Longwood Medical Area, and then to Ruggles / Orange Line.

There are two possible crossings of the Charles River.

The con artists' proposal is by far the inferior. First because they want streetcars rather than Orange Line Subway, second because of Yawkee Station’s location. Yawkee Station’s location has been decided by the $20 million rebuilding project. That location provides excellent connections between Framingham/Worcester commuters and the new Urban Ring / Orange Line spur (downtown fast), and all three Green Lines coming in to Kenmore. In addition to providing rapid cross town connection (in contrast to streetcars), it would connect locations on the ring to downtown by a direct route. The obvious phase 1, to Kenmore by the Longwood Medical Area from Ruggles, is badly needed by the hospitals there, which are a crucial part of the state economy.

The proposal with that Yawkee Station location also provides excellent connection to Fenway Park.

The con artists alternative is far inferior: in locations, in connections and with regard to support for the Red Sox. At absolute minimum, their streetcars are far inferior to Orange Line subway with direct downtown connection.

The con artists have lost the key vote. Excellent transportation for Framingham/Worcester in that vote is the key.

Their response: the irresponsible proposal to move Framingham/Worcester to the Grand Junction and far inferior service on that line for Framingham/Worcester combined with environmental destruction, heartless animal abuse and direct harm to Cambridge on road transportation with active grade crossings.

5. The losers cry they can’t lose.

The con artists are doing the usual con artist argument: They can’t lose, they can’t lose, they can’t lose, but have they got a deal for you.

But the con artists are fighting this fight because they have lost.

The con artists are crying “politically correct,” and “transportation is golden” over yet another inferior proposal.

But this is Cambridge, MA, and the con artists own Cambridge politics.