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Have a T Question? Just Don’t Ask T Personnel

Some things might seem basic and essential to some of us, but it feels like common sense gets lost on some people. I remember when I first got to Boston 8.5 years ago, I was absolutely stunned by the lack of signage in places where signs and directions are essential, like the airport and bus stops. Logan was a site seriously under construction and the signs were sparse and mostly handwritten; finding the word “exit” on a sign, was like hitting the lottery. Now Logan is WAY better, with very good signs helping people navigate the place and go to where they need to go: exits (yay!), taxis, buses, the T.

 Oh, yes, the T… I remember back in those days, when I tried to take a bus to South Boston. I was around Downtown Crossing and was trying to see from where I could take bus No7. I saw a bus stop and went over to see if it stopped there. The bus stop sign had only a T on it, no list of buses that stopped there. I thought there was something wrong with that sign, so I walked further down the street to another bus stop: same sign, just a T, no list of buses. I thought, “wow, this place is really great, every bus stops at every bus stop, so they don’t have to list the buses on the bus stop signs, brilliant”, or more like brilliantly stupid. Shouldn’t a bus stop sign with a list of all the buses that stop there be something essential??? What good is it if it just says “bus stop”? What amazed me the most is that somebody really thought that a bus stop with no information on it was good enough. And so many other people at the MBTA thought that was good enough too. And that’s Boston we’re talking about, not Smallville, USA.

 I tried to find a map that showed the bus routes, and of course such thing didn’t exist back then (and it was 2001 I remind you, not the late 1800s). Then I started asking T personnel around South Station, most didn’t’ know, somebody finally said the No7 stopped somewhere on Summer Street. Progress, I know… Got to Summer Street, there were several bus stops, impossible to know where No7 actually stopped. I started asking people, other T bus drivers, nobody had any idea. I was waiting for the phantom bus, in vain. A bus driver pointed at a stop where No7 supposedly stopped. I waited there, only to have No7 come by and stop at another stop further down Summer Street. I ran after it, and caught it, but the whole experience was absolutely frustrating. There’s something so blatantly wrong with this picture, and nobody does anything about it.

 Some years later the T started a ground breaking project: adding the bus routes numbers to the bus stop signs!!! Oh, my GOD, how novel!!!!

 The other point I want to make is that of the person who gives out wrong information. If you don’t know something for sure, just say “I don’t know”, or something like “I’m not sure, I think it is like this”. Just don’t give me false information. Especially when you work for the MBTA and I’m asking a T related question. My out of town friend who’s visiting, was trying to get yesterday from Park Street to Watertown. He asked many T employees, including those who work at the Information booth for directions, four of them didn’t know. Which is fine not to know, but they didn’t even know to give him a direction where to seek this information from, like suggesting looking up a bus route map, for example. And then, the fifth person he asked told him to go to South Station because “lots of buses leave from there”. Wow, I’m amazed. Now think about it, Watertown is to the west of Boston, and he sends him to South Station where buses going south leave from. And why? Because “lots of buses leave from there”. Are you serious??? If you don’t know, just shut the F* up. Anyway, my friend gets to South Station starts asking again about the bus to Watertown, every T employee he asks, has NO idea, and then a random person who overhears the question suggests that he goes to Harvard Sq where buses to Watertown leave from. Amen.

 Is it so difficult to have an information booth at every subway station where T employees can answer mass transit related questions, such as bus routes questions??? Or where T riders can look up the info themselves? Their website is quite good, why can’t they have terminals for people to access the info from? Just wait 10 more years, we’ll get there, I’m sure…

Boston Tour Guide

A friend is visiting Boston for the first time, so we have been going around for the past couple of days. I’ve done lots of walking and to be honest some sights around here never bore me. So here’s our itinerary for future use:

Friday we only had half a day, so we went in Harvard Square, walk around the yard, then down the Charles, walked along the river, back to Davis, dinner at Redbones.

Saturday we went downtown Boston to Park St. Went to the Granary Burying Ground, then towards the other direction, through Boston Common, the Public Garden, walked along the Commonwealth Ave Mall, Newbury Street, Copley Square, Copley Place, Skywalk Observatory at the Prudential (50th floor), dinner at Summer Shack.

Sunday we did Duck Tour (my first time, was kinda fun and I can see visitors enjoying it), Esplanade, Beacon Hill, dinner at the Top of the Hub (oh, yes, pricey but awesome view and delicious).

Monday was a holiday, Memorial Day, and the day was gorgeous. Brunch at Soundbites, too the T downtown, walked around the North End, Greenway, Harborwalk, ICA, took the T to JP, walked around the Pond.

Lots of blisters, lots of ice cream, lots of water and lemonade.

Gave my friend directions to Faneuil Hall to visit on his own, I can’t really stand this area. He’ll be doing the Harvard Museum of Natural History on his own too. Later in the week we’ll be visiting the Mt Auburn Cemetery, the Arboretum, maybe Forest Hills Cemetery, too.

And, oh, yes, Boston is awesome, and YES, we have lots of Dunkin Donuts and interesting combinations, like Donuts / Sushi:

The Shins at the Orpheum

The Shins played a live show at the Orpheum Theatre last night, and it was prettygood. Mercer’s voice was unexpectedly strong live and the band looked like they were having fun. I’m afraid I don’t really like their new album as much as I like their previous work. Oh, well. I had a very good seat, and although the Orpheum is kinda crappy, I like the atmosphere, the feeling of a long lost grandeur…

Delta Spirit opened for them and they were quite good. I kinda think that the opening bands don’t play as loud as the main band. I was only familiar with a couple of their songs, but I liked their other stuff too.

I was taking some photos, until I wasn’t. The staff informed that I’m not allowed to take photos with my camera, a DSLR Nikon D90. I was like “why this camera?” So the rules are that you can use your crappy phone camera and your point-and-shoot, but you cannot use a “professional” camera, the one that takes various lenses. I really don’t get the point. Why are they making this distinction? Anyway, you can see some of the photos I took here.

North End

Last week’s assignment for my photography class was to shoot around the North End. I was hoping for some interestingness, but unfortunately I had only one hour to walk around and take photos, and things were rather quiet. The North End is the italian neighborhood of Boston and I was hoping for some drama. Didn’t get too lucky. At the end I wasn’t too happy with the results, but Ididlike this photo: a dog dressed in red, rides in this red mini. It is rather fascinating, because I don’t really feel inclined to take photos of dogs, but they, for some reason Ican’t explain, look like they are attracted to my camera. Just like Coco was, a couple of weeks ago.

Mogwai

Mogwai played live in Boston at the Wilbur Theatre on May 1. I really like their music and of course they didn’t disappoint. I always think that their music will be the perfect soundtrack for the film I’ll someday make. And I’m sure they are already on board. I mean there is the undeniable Scottish connection: they are from Glasgow, I lived in Edinburgh for one year. I know, pretty astonishing.

It was the first time I’d been to the newly renovated Wilbur Theatre. It is kinda cozy, not too big, not too small, there is a standing-only general admission area, and then mezzanine and balcony seating. The sound was pretty good and what would a Mogwai concert be without good sound? Oh, yes, it would be a Caspian show at the Middle East, if you know what I mean. Btw, I saw the tall guy from the band at the Mogwai show, taking detailed notes, I’m sure.

Anyway, I had a very good mezzanine seat and thankfully no 7 feet tall guy sitting in front of me. As I mentioned, the theatre was recently renovated, but at some point there was plaster from the ceiling falling on  the people in front of me. Nothing major, just makes you wonder what the place will look like in a year.

This is a video I shot at the concert with my Nikon D90. The camera gets heavy after a while. Really.