By Lindsey Cantey, Staff Writer
Thanks to business-review sites like Yelp, every decision we make as consumers can be well-researched. These days, we, as consumers rarely need to buy a new product, visit a new restaurant, or plan a vacation to a new place without becoming acquainted first with the level of quality it possesses.
This is where Yelp comes in. Anything remotely foreign, whether product or place, is typed into the search box. The results are cataloged and potential customers can view scores given and reviews written by past customers. Yelp can also tell you whether or not a place is open or closed, how far away the location of a place is in proximity to where the potential customer is, and is customized to a person’s specific location (i.e., Yelp in Boston, Yelp in San Francisco, etc.)
The peer-review model employed by Yelp works so well with influencing everyday purchase decisions. It is only logical it would be useful for other life experiences as well. Even life experiences such as prison. Yep, you read right. Yelp even has reviews for prisons. In an article by ABC, there are reviews on Yelp for prisons. Each review is composed of evaluations written by inmates, visitors and even lawyers.
Yelp prison reviews can be a useful and comical tool for those that have a choice. Through Yelp, one can virtually experience life in prison regardless of what side of the bars you may be on. Just like a restaurant or a salon.
So, in the event that you may be visiting a prison, I would highly suggest going to Yelp first. At least you get a sense of what you’re getting into. Sort of.
By Brooke Jackson-Glidden, MUSE Editor
There’s a tiny foodie mecca hidden across the bay, a five- to ten-minute walk from South Station. Perhaps you’ve seen it on a visit to the ICA or the Atlantic Wharf. It’s a bizarre contrast between modern Los Angeles glass and classic Boston brick architecture: the waterside docks perfect for a quick dip of the toes, the restaurants for miles, indie gourmet groceries and Asian-fusion small plates.
Also known as the Innovative District, Fort Point has been exploding with new restaurants. In March alone, three different food vendors opened in the area, alongside half of Barbara Lynch’s tiny empire (Sportello, Menton and Drink). Here’s your quick guide to eating your way through Fort Point:
Blue Dragon: Ming Tsai’s Asian Small Plates are a hit since opening earlier this year. His second restaurant, Tsai, keeps his atmosphere casual and fun, with tasty Asian twists on classic gastropub fare.
CHECK OUT: The escargot, dan dan noodles, shepard’s pie, and the Dragon burger
Tavern Road: This modern edition to “Restaurant Row” (Congress St., over the river) serves cool small(ish) plates late at night, with a very young atmosphere and innovative menu.
CHECK OUT: The moulard duck, grilled octopus, and the gnocchi
Sportello: Barbara Lynch’s take on a diner. This “Italian lunch counter” serves sandwiches and homemade pastas that will make your head spin.
CHECK OUT: The gnocchi, the spicy tomato soup, and the sweetbreads
Bee’s Knees: This gourmet grocery opened last month, and we’re so glad. Bee’s Knees offers a wide variety of locally and internationally sourced cheese, produce, wine, and other food items that are sure to make any foodie smile.
CHECK OUT: The cheese selection, the café
Flour: Almost everyone knows and loves Joanne Chang’s popular indie bakery, but most of them didn’t know it was located in this tiny foodie paradise.
CHECK OUT: “Pop Tarts”, sandwiches, and sticky buns
COMING SOON: Row 34, Pastoral
By Deborah Wong, Staff Writer
As you enter the ‘Samurai!’ exhibit at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, you face three formidable samurai armors. These armors symbolize courage, skills and status in Japanese society. You initially stare in fear at the dragon-shaped horns on the helmet, the protruding nose on the mask and the gold-encrusted swirls on the chest piece. But after understanding that every minuscule detail has a function and meaning, you stare in awe at these majestic Samurais– the military elite of Japan.
The exquisite art of these Japanese warriors fascinate collectors Ann and Gabriel Barbier-Mueller— so much so that eventually expanded their collection into The Ann & Gabriel Barbier-Mueller Museum in Dallas, Texas. ‘Samurai!’ shares a selection of these artifacts with Bostonians, illustrating the evolution of these fearsome fighters from the 12th to the 19th century. The samurai is still widely talked about today, and their skills continue to inspire multiple Eastern sports and martial arts. The samurai— with their truly remarkable finesse— are praised for their honorable code based on the seven essential virtues: honesty, courage, respect, benevolence, rectitude, honor and loyalty.
The opening of the collection introduces the overall history of these highly trained combatants. Three soldiers stand erect in full uniform, clutching their weapons: chest armor, footwear, a mask, a helmet, a bow and arrow and a thin sword. Their posture resembles a Buckingham palace guard, but you wouldn’t want to stand too close to these men should they to come to life. As you continue along, parts of the armor are separated for you to analyze each of the traditional opera-like masks, the vibrant horse saddles and the daunting helmets.
The Shogun, or warlords, described the sword as “the soul of the samurai,” but surprisingly there aren’t many swords at the MFA. In fact; only one sword stood out from the whole collection. The single sword was placed in a glass box, almost like it was levitating in the middle of the room. The gold on the handle and the bronze pieces radiated, causing anyone who entered this room to approach the thin piece of steel. Museum guests could not take their eyes off the detailed gold leaves and the shiny lacquer. I applaud them for this intriguing, alluring display of the soul of these fighters.
But hands down, the helmets stole the spotlight; the intricate engravings of the iron and steel are absolutely breathtaking. Certain carved shapes and pieces reveal Japanese beliefs and superstitions. For example, one helmet had what looked like Bugs Bunny ears planted on the top. Since the metal looks extremely long and heavy the design may seem to hinder the warrior’s performance when fighting, but those hare ears symbolize longevity.
Once you step to the next helmet, you’re faced with one that is adorned with little flames on the side and on the top to represent the Buddhist doctrine. Besides that, the pendant for the goddess of archers is emblazoned on the forehead of the helmet. Every little detail matters in the construction of these uniforms.
However the exhibition did not provide any description of the fighting styles of the samurai. They are trained to be precise in their fighting technique yet they also carry some form of art in their movements. The benefit of omitting the gory war scenes is to allow the viewers to imagine for themselves on how these samurai perform on and off the battlefield when they strap on their armors. Plus, with just the artifacts on display, it reminds the audience that they’re not just bloodthirsty killers— they carry some form of grace.
Nonetheless I would personally love to view some aspects of their training. There seems to be a gap in their display of the growth of the start of the samurai’s journey as a 12-year-old boy to the time when he vows to follow bushido, a code to fight and to accept death.
The names and the classes of the samurai may be confusing but, overall the exhibition was able to illuminate on their transformation from generation to generation, providing sufficient background on the cultural and doctrinal beliefs, the military history of them, their feudal lords, and the creation of each individual masterpiece.
The samurai celebrated “tango-no-sekku” to remind the young men of their importance of their samurai status. Now the stories of these Japanese elite fighters aren’t only shared among young men, but among people of all ages. Go see the MFA version of tango-no-sekku where they remind everyone of these revered and warriors.
The ‘Samurai!’ exhibition will run at the MFA through Aug. 4.
By Hilary Ribons, Blog Editor
The past few days have been hard for Boston. After the explosions that ended the Boston Marathon early yesterday, a somberness has fallen over the city. Everyone is still on edge and heightened security remains on Boylston.
Today, Online Editor Melissa Adan and I went down to Newbury to take some photos and interview people the day after the event. The city seems to be slightly quiet and deserted, but perseverant.
In respect of recent events, the online team has chosen to withhold posts on the blog until tomorrow evening.
Though the last couple of days have been difficult, some good has come out of it as well. Whenever something like this happens, though terrible, it offers the chance for people to unite and support each other. Buzzfeed.com produced a list of ways that the nation has stepped up to aid and support those involved in the Marathon explosions. This included marathon runners completing the race and going directly to the hospital to donate blood, good samaritans who helped at the scene and an ongoing google doc that was created a few hours after the event in which people listed open space they had in their home for visiting runners and their families who couldn’t leave the city.
I would also like to commend the newspaper staff on its coverage of this event. It has truly been trying and I couldn’t be more proud. Staff photographer Kenshin Okubo’s photos are receiving international attention and made it onto the front page of the online edition of the New York Times. Online Editor Melissa Adan’s video has now been featured on NBC Latino, NBC Miami and Miami’s WSVN News. Additionally, the rest of the staff has been producing excellent coverage that is being closely watched by many in this city and the rest of the world.
I believe in the strength of this city. Of course no one will ever forget, but they will move forward. The words Obama said at the press conference held on Monday evening echo throughout the city:
“Boston is a strong and resilient town; so are its people.”
By Hilary Ribons
According to a live blog on boston.com, there were two explosions near the finish line of the Boston Marathon in Copley Square. Authorities say there are two confirmed dead and many injured.
Authorities also said cell phones were deactivated in the city to avoid accidental detonation of other bombs. For updates on the latest news, see @dailyfreepress. For reaction tweets and news from the event, click here for Storify or on the image below.
By Amira Francis
“Pretty Cute Watching Boston Residents Play Daily Game of ‘Big City,” is the bold title of a new article from the satirical news organization, The Onion.
Does this make your blood boil, Bostonians?!
Or are you an original New Yorker who reads the satirical piece with a knowing smile on your face?
The article chuckles at Boston residents, portraying them kind of like little kids in a make-believe playground as the older, more responsible citizens of America watch on. While The Onion is just poking fun, as it usually does, is there a ring of truth behind its words?
You know – maybe the huge cities like New York and Los Angeles just resent us for having all the benefits of a big city while maintaining the lovely coziness of a small town. There are benefits to living in Boston. Okay, okay, our nightlife is no New York City nightlife. We aren’t constantly abuzz with people, and our streets aren’t filled with celebrities like LA’s streets are. But there are some pretty cool things about Boston. I wouldn’t say we are pretending to be a big city, but rather that we are a unique one, a hybrid of small-town-life and busy-city-thrill. For example:
- We have the large buildings and busy streets of a big city, without the filth. In fact, Forbes rated Boston the 10th cleanest city in the world in 2007 (tied with Lexington). Take that, New York.
- We have a convenient, easy-to-use subway system that transports you all around Boston with relatively no hassle. It has a color code that’s easy to understand and maps to help you along the way. And soon it may be running past midnight into the wee hours of the morning! (Okay, don’t poke fun. We’re getting there. We’re revamping our nightlife transportation, I promise. Boston will soon have a thriving, busy nightlife.)
- The music on Boston’s streets and in the T station is usually great. You never fear being stuck in the T station for too long because there is some pretty fantastic music keeping you entertained, oftentimes by very talented local college students. Which brings me to my last point…
- Boston is one of the biggest college cities you will ever come across. I know, you’ve heard it before. But really– the amount of college kids in the city keeps the town abuzz with a crisp energy. Everyone in Boston is learning something, eager to build their future, and excited to meet people and make friends. And while the majority of Boston may seem to fall under a younger demographic, it doesn’t stop it from being any less diverse. You can come across many different cultures in the hub.
So whether you’re a Bostonian who needed a little bit of a pick-me-up because you were down about your favorite city, or a hard New Yorker who needed a bit convincing, read this and know that Boston has some pretty fantastic things about it. For the record, the Onion’s article made me laugh. But I still refuse to admit there’s any truth behind the words.
By Amira Francis, Staff Writer
Boston has been clamoring for T changes for quite awhile now and, (hopefully) the Department of Transportation will be making those changes in the near future. Every student’s dream has finally come true: late night T rides back home on the weekends instead of travelling the distance by foot. Finally! No longer will you have to leave the party early so that you can catch the train.
What will this do for Boston? Personally, I think it will mean a huge boost for the quality of Boston’s nightlife. I’m under 21 so I don’t really have any perspective on the clubs and bars of Boston, but I can tell you that walking around the streets of Boston late at night can be not only depressing, but at times, unsettling. There aren’t a lot of people out and about, there aren’t a lot of shops or even food places open. It may be a stretch to say this, but: maybe later T operating hours will encourage all of Boston to stay open late at night. Maybe, someday, Boston will be a thriving nightlife metropolis. Like Chicago. Or New York. (Okay, dream big.)
Not only will late night T hours make Boston more fun to travel through at night, but it will also make Boston a lot safer. Of course, it probably won’t affect criminals in any direct way, but it will give you an opportunity to take the T home rather than wandering through some of the more dangerous streets around. And with all of the stabbings, shootings and robberies – I’m sure everyone will appreciate a chance to avoid getting attacked on the walk home.
In addition to the extended operating hours, the Department of Transportation is also using 2.4 billion dollars over the next 10 years to replace train cars and 850 million dollars to replace buses. I have high hopes for Boston as a changing city. Boston is known as a city marked by its history, but hopefully, within the next 10 years, we can encourage the change needed to help keep Boston up-to-date. Chicago and New York are great, but if Boston has the history, culture, and nightlife? I think there will be no comparison.
By Ryan Galindo, Staff Writer
To tell you the truth, before this past weekend, I have never taken a tour of Boston―not one Duck Tour or a single yard on the Freedom Trail. I made it a point on my bucket list to go on a tour one day because I feel it’s almost mandatory as a transplant to do so.
Finally, after three months of procrastinating, I can finally say that I’ve taken a tour of Boston―or something like it―and it’s not the way I had planned it to be. I didn’t ride a single Duck Boat or follow a single brink of the Freedom Trail.
On Sunday, I participated in Boston University’s annual Amazing Race, which pits teams made up of BU students in a race around the city of Boston. Much like the reality television show it gets its inspiration from, the race included figuring out clues that lead contestants to their next destinations, and at some of these destinations, a task had to be completed in order to receive the next clue. The winning group would win $1500, but if the group were one of BU’s active student groups, it would win $3000 instead.
I was one of eight people that represented my favorite club, the Boston University Filipino Student Association. It sounded like a good idea. I absolutely love watching “The Amazing Race” on CBS and always dreamed of being part of it, so it was almost automatic that I agreed to play the moment I was asked to join the team.
With the race beginning at 9 a.m. sharp, I woke up at around 8 a.m. to get my things ready and do a bit of stretching. I thought nothing could ever wake me up that early on a Sunday morning, but apparently the prospect of $3000 can!
When the race began at the Student Activities Office, my team and about 30 other teams ran toward the Kenmore T stop in order to get to Arlington because that was where the first clue told us to go. In actuality the clue was a bit more vague and had asked us to go to Medieval Manor Theatre. We didn’t understand what the clue meant, so it took us roughly 30 minutes to figure out where we needed to go. We ran down many streets, confused―and we weren’t alone. Other teams were just as perplexed.
When we finally found the theater, we were asked to perform a short Shakespearean skit, which we (horribly) did, thus earning our next clue.
And that was the first leg of the race.
We had many other stops to reach. We went from the Charles River Campus, to Arlington, to the South End, to Chinatown, to the TD Garden, to the John Hancock House, to Columbus Park, to the site of the Boston Massacre and even gruelingly raced up Beacon Hill. Did I mention it was grueling?
Unfortunately, we didn’t win the race nor the $3000 as we were one of the later teams to arrive at Cheers near the Boston Common and were eliminated. It was bittersweet: bitter, because we had lost and sweet, because that was one of the hardest and strenuous things I have ever done. We had a good run though. I believe we were one of the top 20 teams to finish.
Would I recommend this race to anyone? Yes, I would. It’s really fun, and you really do get to see Boston and interact with its citizens because we weren’t allowed any electronic devices to help us find our way around the city. We got around the city through our own personal knowledge and the kindness of pedestrians that helped us.
We lost the race, but I personally believe I’ve gained another level of appreciation for the city in which I live and the people I share it with.
Fewer people fell during BU’s amazing race, based on the CBS reality show “The Amazing Race.”
By Seline Jung, Staff Writer
Boston during the winter holiday season is as bright, cheery and traditional as it gets, but there is so much more for those of us with an eclectic taste. From horse-drawn carriage rides through historic Beacon Hill to 24-hour improv comedy shows to half- naked Santa runs, the next few weeks in the Hub is jam-packed with activity. Below are ten holiday happening picks around town:
The Boston Common – Provided itʼs not too freezing outside the park is a lovely place to sit with a hot drink and get away from city life for a bit, and this Thursday, Nov. 29, there will be a big tree lighting spectacle. The Frog Pond is now also officially open for ice skating.
The Revere Hotel – Right by the Common is the Revere Hotel, where there is currently a gourmet hot chocolate pop-up store, “Pop It Like Itʼs Hot.” Grab a friend and a free cup of hot choco on a Friday afternoon and find a nice spot at the Frog Pond to watch some ice skaters fail.
Downtown Crossing – Not only is Downtown Crossing always usually a premier shopping spot, the largest holiday market in the area is happening every day until Dec. 24. Need last-minute holiday gifts? Find one-of-a-kind handmade goods from local artists, including homeware, clothing, jewelry and photos.
Newbury Street – Bostonʼs chicest street is packed with holiday activity this season. Dec. 8 will be a particularly busy day, with approximately 500 men and women expected to run down the street as a part of the Santa Speedo Run. The same day is also the annual “Holiday Stroll” in which retailers will be hosting events, giveaways and discount deals among free food, drink and entertainment.
Harvard Square – The annual Harvard Square Holiday Crafts Fair is not like any other crafts market. Apparently it is “more like a party where you can buy stuff,” according to its official website. The fair runs from Dec. 1 until the 23. It is open every Saturday and Sunday, as well as Friday’s starting Dec. 7 and weekdays beginning Dec. 18.
Boston Ballet – No holiday season is complete without a good show or two. The classic ballet “The Nutcracker” opens at the Boston Ballet, and runs until Dec. 31. For an adult alternative check out “The Slutcracker” at the Somerville Theatre, a burlesque retelling of Tchaikovskyʼs story. It has consistently sold out shows and scandalized audiences since it first started in 2008.
Royale Nightclub – Bostonʼs biggest night club is hosting an alternative music concert festival, “A Very GK! Holiday Festival.”
Improv Asylum Theatre – If you havenʼt been to this comedy club yet, you must this holiday season. Check out the official site for all event listings – a big one is the 24-hour improv show to benefit Globe Santa. There will apparently be celebrity guests throughout the night as well as live auctions. Laugh for a good cause on Dec. 7.
Citi Performing Arts Center – Feeling like a Grinch this holiday season? How about visiting Dr. Seuss’ How The Grinch Stole Christmas! The Musical at the Citi Wang Theatre. The musical runs until Dec. 9.
Beacon Hill – This streets in this historic neighborhood will close for a few hours on Dec. 8 for the annual “Beacon Hill Holiday Stroll.” A perfect outing for time with family, there will be plenty of free music, horse-carriage rides, refreshments and even a tree lighting.
You can follow all of these Holiday Happenings in Boston via The Daily Free Press Foursquare account.
By Ryan Galindo, Staff Writer
My obsession with snow began when I was very young. I always thought snow was essential to the Christmas season. Like, it just isn’t Christmas if there isn’t any snow. I remember my earliest Christmas memory. I waited and waited for it to snow. Screw Santa—I just wanted snow. But when Christmas flew by without a single snowflake, I was left disappointed.
Of course, now that I’m older I know better. But that yearning for snow never left, and experiencing four seasons was one of the top reasons why I chose to move to New England. Like I’ve said, Guam is sweltering hot, and I just wanted a change of scene. But deep inside, I wanted to play in the snow.
When I confirmed my enrollment to Boston University, I was so excited partly because I knew that I would get to experience that cold, icy, powdery substance people call snow in a matter of months. I wanted be in a snowball fight, make snow angels and build a snowman.
As you all know—and if you don’t, let me remind you—Nov. 7 marked Boston’s first snowfall of the season. Yes, I have that engraved in my memory because it was the first time I had ever experienced snow.
I was at my job at 100 Bay State Rd. I walked to work that day and it the rain was pouring. It was super freezing. Little did I know that those clouds pelting me with icy water would soon drop snowflakes and give me what I’ve been waiting for so long to try: snow. At 5 p.m., I looked outside the window and saw that everything was covered in white. It was amazing and I was in disbelief. Snow, really? Wow. I couldn’t wait to get off work that day. My body couldn’t contain my excitement.
When I got off of work at 6 p.m., I went out with my friend to take my first step out into the cold. It was a glorious moment, touching snow. It feels so soft. I can still hear the crunching of snow under my shoes. And I can still feel the numbness of my face as the hostile winds pelted snowflakes in my direction.
That night I threw my first snowball and had my first snowball fight. I was so enthused that I forgot to make snow angels and build snowmen. I also slipped on my butt a couple of times. Okay, so maybe it was a lot of times. But it was all good.
And call me crazy, but that evening I walked all the way from 100 Bay State Rd. to my dorm in West Campus. I still can’t believe I did that and neither do my friends:
“You walked all the way there?! And you’re from GUAM?!”
Despite the fun I was having in the snow, the biting cold finally got to me, so I called it a day and went to bed, excited for more snow adventures the next day.
But wow, was I wrong. Everything started to melt the following day. I mean, who would want to play in wet slush? No way am I making snow angels in that. And now, I look outside my window and see that everything is dry. It’s as if the Nor’easter didn’t happen at all.
What a tease. Oh well. I guess I can hold building snowmen and making snow angels until the next snowfall. After all, I did wait several years for my first. What’s a few more weeks?