Thursday, August 5, 2010

Get Rich Quick

A coworker just got back from the Dominican Republic. In a conversation about how things are down there he was saying that a popular scam by the locals that is often done on Americans is folks asking to get paid to watch your car because the cities there are so "scary" that if you leave your car unattended it will "certainly be stolen."

So when is the next show at the Hanover?

Thursday, July 15, 2010

You can complain....

Article today in the Telegram about the sale of the Chevalier building in the Canal District to Winn Management. Comments are filled with boobs as per usual. So first order of business Worcester needs to do is abolish the term low income housing and start calling it what everyone else does: rent control. Next thing they need to do if they are going to keep funding this stuff is start educating the public on what rent control is, who is eligible, and how they can benefit from it.


That is how much you should be making to be eligible for one of these apartments. There are real good, honest, hardworking folks making this kind of money. Young folks just out of college that are living with roommates they can't stand in drafty 3 deckers in parts of the city a lot shittier than the Canal District. Parts of the city where they need to get in their car to get some good take out or go to a decent bar, or go shopping at a good thrift store. Parts of the city where they need to take a car or get in a cab to get to the commuter rail. Parts of the city where it takes them 15 minutes just to get to 290 in rush hour. And I don't know if you have looked around Water St in a while, but parts of the city where they may not feel as free with their sexuality as they might in the Canal District.

We as a city can blame Winn all we want if this fails (and they would deserve some of the blame) but we as a city are funding a part of this and you know what? It's a done deal. So instead of being the cowpokes that we are and not understanding the difference between clustered low income housing in an already ghetto-ized neighborhood and rent control in a hip, up and coming neighborhood, how about we do things like direct people looking for a place to live to this neighborhood and you know, be a little fucking positive for once?

I don't believe Worcester can be what I want it to be anymore, but that doesn't mean I don't think that stuff can't work out sometimes as intended. If I was single, 23 years, just out of college, and living in Worcester I can't think of anywhere else I would want to be than the Canal District because there is actually shit going on there all the time on a weekly (most of the time nightly) basis year round. You can't say that about any other neighborhood in Worcester.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Some True Nerd Shit

So this is some true nerd number running right here and this post comes as a companion to my last post.

After a recent trip to Austin and some research I did upon my return it occurred to me that most large American cities are much bigger land wise than the large cities we have here in the Northeast. Due to this people who have spent most of their lives living in the Northeast may have a distorted view of what makes a large city. I contend that because of the city and town system of New England, even though the towns surrounding a large city are autonomous, independent and have their own municipal governments the group of towns and cities themselves are what dictate the culture of the metropolitan area that gives the core city it's reputation. So I present to you the stats for Worcester, Boston, Providence, Lowell, Hartford, and Springfield. 1st column is the population, second column is the land area in sq miles, third column is the density people per square mile. On the bottom you will find the totals. Since Austin was the inspiration for this I tried to get as close to 300 sq miles as I could. This is by no means scientific but I do think it illustrates my point, which is to stop thinking of Worcester as the second biggest city and trying to get it to live up to all the expectations that entails.

So to start off with Worcester:

Worcester 182,596 37.60 4,678.10
Shrewsbury 31,640 20.70 1,526.30
Westborough 17,997 20.50 876.90
Auburn 16,259 15.40 1,035.30
Holden 15,621 35.00 446.40
Grafton 14,894 22.70 655.00
Northborough 14,013 18.50 756.10
Clinton 13,435 5.70 2,355.70
Oxford 13,352 26.60 501.50
Northbridge 13,182 17.20 767.20
Millbury 12,784 15.70 812.50
Spencer 11,691 32.90 355.90
Charlton 11,263 42.50 264.80
Leicester 10,471 23.40 448.30
West Boylston 7,481 12.90 580.00
Paxton 4,386 14.70 297.70
Boylston 4,008 16.00 250.00

372,547 293.00 1,271.49


Boston 620,535 48.43 12,813.00
Cambridge 105,594 6.43 15,767.96
Quincy 92,339 16.80 5,496.40
Lynn 87,122 10.80 8,066.90
Newton 83,271 18.10 4,600.60
Somerville 74,405 4.10 18,147.60
Waltham 59,758 12.70 4,705.40
Malden 55,712 5.10 10,923.90
Medford 55,565 8.10 6,859.90
Revere 55,341 5.90 9,379.80
Weymouth 53,272 17.00 3,133.60
Arlington 41,144 5.20 7,912.30
Chelsea 38,203 2.20 17,365.00
Everett 37,269 3.40 10,961.50
Braintree 34,422 13.90 2,476.40
Watertown 32,521 4.10 7,932.00
Randolph 30,168 10.10 2,987.00
Needham 28,263 12.60 2,243.10
Melrose 26,708 4.70 5,698.30
Wellesley 26,613 10.18 2,614.10
Saugus 26,078 11.00 2,373.70
Milton 25,961 13.00 1,976.00
Dedham 24,132 10.50 2,298.30
Belmont 23,356 4.70 4,969.40
Canton 21,916 18.90 1,159.60
Winthrop 20,154 2.00 10,077.00
Hull 11,050 3.00 3,648.90
Nahant 3,632 1.20 2,918.70

1,794,504 284.14 6,315.56


Providence 171,557 18.50 9,473.00
Warwick 85,808 35.50 2,457.00
Cranston 79,269 28.60 2,774.70
Pawtucket 71,765 8.70 8,437.00
East Providence 49,515 13.40 3,692.00
North Providence 32,411 5.70 5,720.20
West Warwick 29,581 7.90 3,728.70
Johnston 28,195 23.70 1,191.40
Lincoln 20,898 18.20 1,146.60
Smithfield 20,613 26.60 775.30
Central Falls 18,683 1.20 18,683.00
Barrington 16,812 8.40 1,997.90
Scituate 10,324 48.70 212.10

635,431 245.10 2,592.54


Hartford 124,512 17.30 7,025.50
New Britain 71,254 13.30 5,358.70
West Hartford 61,173 22.00 2,781.00
Manchester 55,572 27.30 2,036.00
East Hartford 49,173 18.00 2,732.00
Newington 29,676 13.20 2,248.00
Vernon 29,491 17.70 1,666.00
Windsor 28,778 29.60 972.00
Wethersfield 26,220 12.40 2,115.00
South Windsor 25,985 28.00 928.00
Farmington 24,941 28.10 888.00
Bloomfield 20,581 26.00 792.00
Berlin 19,590 26.50 739.00
Rocky Hill 18,760 13.50 1,390.00
Windsor Locks 12,411 9.00 1,379.00

573,176 273.90 2,092.65


Springfield 150,640 32.10 4,692.80
Chicopee 54,563 22.90 2,389.70
Westfield 40,072 46.60 860.30
Holyoke 39,958 21.30 1,871.40
Agawam 28,144 23.20 1,210.90
West Springfield 27,899 16.80 1,665.70
Ludlow 21,209 27.20 752.10
South Hadley 17,196 17.70 971.00
Longmeadow 15,633 9.00 1,732.50
East Longmeadow 14,100 13.00 1,087.10
Wilbraham 13,473 22.20 606.30
Belchertown 12,968 52.70 245.90
Palmer 12,497 31.50 396.30
Southwick 8,835 31.00 285.40
Hampden 5,171 19.60 263.30

436,422 281.40 1,550.90


Lowell 103,512 13.80 7,500.90
Methuen 43,979 22.40 1,963.30
Billerica 42,038 25.90 1,623.00
Chelmsford 34,128 22.70 1,503.40
Andover 31,247 31.00 1,007.80
Tewksbury 29,607 20.70 1,430.30
Dracut 29,498 20.90 1,411.40
Burlington 25,034 11.80 2,121.50
Westford 22,066 30.60 712.10
Wilmington 21,679 17.10 1,267.80
Bedford 13,146 13.70 959.60
Tyngsborough 11,860 16.90 701.80
Groton 10,641 32.80 324.40

418,435 280.30 1,492.81

So there it is. Again, I wrote my last entry on the fly without looking back at these numbers so the numbers I quoted were exagerated, however, these numbers here, all taken from 2000 census numbers do illustrate my point. If all cities in New England were southern city size, Worcester would be number 6 of the bunch (maybe further down as I haven't run the numbers for New Haven or Bridgeport, which by the rules I set would probably just be one gigantic city).

The city (government and it's citizens) need to stop referring to the city as the second largest in New England because it simply is not and it leads to expectations that simply cannot and will not be met.

They're just not that into you Worcester

I am slowly starting to realize that this right here is Worcester's biggest obstacle to becoming a true city with a non poor urban core. The majority of people who grow up in Central Mass and stay here are not people who enjoy a dense urban lifestyle. People who do enjoy city living and want to stay in the area almost always end up moving to Boston, Providence or NYC. So what you have left is a very small minority of folks who truly love the city and are living in the urban neighborhoods and trying to make things better. Than you have folks moving to "the second largest city in New England" (a title true in population only and false in every other way imaginable) expecting all that title would entail and being hugely disappointed. What you have here is a bunch of people trying to run a city who haven't the faintest clue about what true city living is being voted in by a population who could care less about true city living.

Worcester for most of it's history prior to the industrial revolution was a small town. In the span of about 40 very quick years it became a city on the cusp of being a great American city. I-290, the GI bill, and white flight halted this practice in it's tracks in the 50's and 60's and the entire city has been an exercise in futility ever since. The title of second largest city in New England plus the skyscrapers and other big city infrastructure has fooled Central Mass into having faith that this city should be something it isn't and fooled New England and the rest of the outside world to expect this city to be something it just doesn't have the capacity of becoming.

Add in the fact that the metropolitan area is absolutely tiny. Worcester has far less people coming into the city on a daily basis to use it's services and amenities than Boston, Providence, Hartford, New Haven, Springfield, and Albany, and even Lowell. We like to compare ourselves to Providence but people can't seem to grasp the idea that a Northeastern cities density and metropolitan area are what make it feel like a large city not it's population.

If Boston was laid out like a southern city of over 150 square miles it would be an absolute megalopolis. Providence and Hartford would be very large cities of over a million people. Worcester would still only be about 300,000 people. Think about that next time you are comparing and thinking about what you think Worcester should be versus what it is.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010


It is a bit crazy reading all the comments over at the Telegram regarding the CSX expansion and the Grafton Hill Business Associations opposition towards it. A few commenting there see it but what the majority is failing to see is that this is a rare opportunity to do it right. Now when I say right I mean really right. Not right for economic development, not right for gentrification (a concept that I fully support in Worcester by the way), and not right for aesthetics, but right... as in really right... worldly right …everything is right with the cosmos right.

Here is an opportunity to usher in jobs, not just any jobs, but jobs for people that need them. People who may not have the good fortune to own a car that is going to take them east to professional jobs. People who may not even have the college education needed to get those jobs. People that for whatever their lot in life may contribute greatly to the make up, appearance and bad rep that our city has.

Let's face it, Grafton Hill ain't no great shakes. You drive down any of those side streets between 290 and Billings Sq and the conditions are very similar to those you see in Main South, Piedmont Village and neighboring Vernon Hill. These folks need work and they need blue collar work. How nice might it be for these folks to have well paying jobs that they can walk to. I am guessing that if the people who live in Grafton Hill that oppose the expansion want to leave the neighborhood folks with new found CSX jobs would love to take their place.

Now, as far as the businesses go, you operate your business in a city. A city that NEEDS to change. I would ask yourself these questions: Does the neighborhood you do business in need help? Does it have a plan? Are you part of that plan? Does your existing business fit in with that plan? If there isn't a plan are you prepared to be there when one is drawn up? If you have never asked these questions you need to get with the damn program because when shit changes it is on YOU not the city, and not CSX. You think the Kenmore is poo pooing over this? You think Choo Choo Charlies is? You own a garage? Get a diesel mechanic! Adapt. There are going to be 100 more trucks a day. These guys need STUFF. When they come asking for it, HAVE IT!

The face of Grafton Hill is going to change. The change is that it's daytime population is going to go way way way up with people with money in their pockets. Now you can continue to whine and carry on about it or you can step up, adapt, and make money along with everyone else.

As far as The Canal District, Washington Sq, and Shrewsbury St go, the negative impact will be minimal and if and when we get those 20 extra trains, the positive impact will far far far outweigh the negative.

So in short, have a little faith and STFU for a change Worcester. This is a good thing, the rare good thing that is a good thing for EVERYBODY.


Monday, January 25, 2010

The Points North in Sydney Australia 1/21/10

I definitely don't talk enough music in this here blog.

The Points North are a fantastic alt-folk band made up of current and former Central Mass residents Chris Alspach, Regina Peterson, and Dylan Clark. They recently set out on a tour of Australia. This is a video from a show they did last Thursday at the Vanguard in Sydney. They have been known to grace the stage at Nick's on Millbury St from time to time, usually for no cover charge and a pass of the hat. Keep an eye out for their next appearance after they get back home in March.

Sometimes the best things happening in Worcester are happening on the other side of the planet.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Response Time And How The WPD Chooses to Swing The Hammer

On Saturday night I was visiting a friends house up in Tatnuck. A couple of lady friends were outside on the steps smoking when they noticed a car coming down the street. The car sideswiped a neighbors car, went through the intersection and swiped another car. The girls called the police right away and they arrived in less than a half hour. The officers took down the info about the car and took off. Within the hour they had circled back around, told us they had found the car, and requested the girls give them a more formal statement.

So this is nothing spectacular. The police do not deserve huge kudos for this. It was a good job absolutely, but it is a job we should just expect out of them. It is what should be expected by all of us no matter what zip code you call your own and what address you lay your head at. Those of us that live in urban Worcester know that recieving this type of treatment from the WPD is a pipe dream.

I understand that times are tough and that we are short staffed on the WPD. I also understand though that in the coming years there is much money to be made in Fed Sq, North Main, Shrewsbury St, and the Canal District. Money that will help out with these tough times. So as a city I guess we can either get with the program and have the WPD make our primary economic development zones as much a priority as Tatnuck and the rest of the Westside or we can continue to ignore the perception problem and very real response problems in those neighborhoods. Of course every year we have less money coming in off of commercial tax rolls the higher the residential tax rises. Cities just aren't supposed to be paying for the amount of services a city needs to pay for with this much residential money.

Bottom line is that residents need to feel safe to go out and use the neighborhoods they live in for economic development to happen. As citizens who have a vested interest in how this city progresses we need to realize that economic development starts at the residential level. We need to start looking at every neighborhood as it's own village.

Can we do this? Please?