Lazy Saturday Reads: Serious and Silly Boston News

Harbor view of Boston

Harbor view of Boston

Good Morning!!

I’m going to imitate Dakinikat and “go local” today. I’m so sick and tired of the national news–school shootings, the campus rape problem, big banks controlling Congress, and “journalists” trying to force Elizabeth Warren to run for president so they can spend the next two years humiliating Hillary Clinton. Oh, and calling Warren the “Ted Cruz of the left”?!

Maybe you heard about this already, but I just think it’s so cool. The old Massachusetts State House in Boston (built in 1713) has been undergoing renovations recently. In October, workers found a time capsule dating from 1901 inside the head of a copper lion statue that, along with a statue of a unicorn was perched on top of the old building.

From CNN: 113-year-old time capsule found in Boston.

The Bostonian Society didn’t — or couldn’t — fully divulge the 113-year-old time capsule’s contents, explaining that “the process of extracting documents that are old and probably fragile will need to be slow and careful.” But a Boston Globe article from February 24, 1901, detailed what went into the box, which the story predicted would “prove interesting when the box is opened many years hence.”

According to the Globe, the box included the photographs and autographs of local statesmen such as Massachusetts Gov. Winthrop M. Crane and Boston Mayor Thomas Norton Hart, as well as news clippings of the day from several city newspapers and even a “letter to posterity from the reporters of the Boston Daily newspapers assigned to City Hall.”

It also included a photograph of the “5th Massachusetts Regiment on its way to Framingham to be mustered in as U.S. volunteers for service in the war against Spain,” as well as “campaign buttons for McKinley, Roosevelt and John D. Long for vice president.”

The box was sealed inside the lion’s head by Samuel Rogers, a local coppersmith who was part of the crew renovating the nearly 200-year-old State House. Although the occasion was detailed in the city’s largest newspaper, the Bostonian Society said its current staff was unaware of the time capsule until they received a letter from a descendent [sic] of Rogers alerting them to it.

The lion and unicorn statues, now freshly coated in gold and palladium, were returned to their posts of more than 100 years. Pictured: The unicorn statue. (h/t The Boston Globe)

The lion and unicorn statues, now freshly coated in gold and palladium, were returned to their posts of more than 100 years. Pictured: The unicorn statue. (h/t The Boston Globe)

The lion and unicorn statues were restored and returned to the top of the old State House in November.

On Thursday, another time capsule was unearthed in Boston–this at the new State House–and it was put there more than 200 years ago.

From The Boston Globe:  Revere-Era Time Capsule Uncovered at The State House.

The 219-year-old capsule— a green box believed to contain Revere-era items— was concealed by Governor Samuel Adams, Paul Revere, and William Scollay when the building was constructed in 1795….

Museum of Fine Arts Conservator Pam Hatchfield was chipping away at the stone block concealing the capsule this morning when the coins fell from the cornerstone. Reporters at the site described one of the coins as “silver-colored” but “not legible.” The box, which was discovered during building maintenance, is expected to be completely unearthed by Thursday afternoon.

But this isn’t the first time the capsule has surfaced. The Boston Globe reported that the box was discovered amidst emergency repairs to the building in 1855, and was returned to its spot following the construction, remaining unopened.

Massachusetts officials worked to remove a time capsule in the cornerstone of the State House in Boston, on Dec. 11, 2014 (h/t The Boston Globe).

Massachusetts officials worked to remove a time capsule in the cornerstone of the State House in Boston, on Dec. 11, 2014 (h/t The Boston Globe).

More details from another Globe article from Thursday:

After a full day spent lying on her back on a muddy wooden plank, chipping with painstaking care at the underside of a stone block to free the time capsule hidden within, Museum of Fine Arts conservator Pam Hatchfield sat up in front of the State House to a round of applause, a green box held delicately in her hands.

“I feel happy and relieved. And excited. And really interested to see what’s in this box,” she said Thursday night, after posing for a selfie with the capsule for her mom. The extrication took more than seven hours and involved about a dozen workers….

“Hopefully there will be no damage and we will be able to observe the artifacts that trace us back to the history not only just of this building, but of our Commonwealth and our country,” said Secretary of State William Galvin, who was on hand for the capsule’s first appearance in more than 150 years.

The capsule is believed to include a collection of silver and copper coins dating from between 1652 and 1855; an engraved silver plate; newspapers; the seal of the Commonwealth; cards; and a title page from the Massachusetts Colony Records, according to Meghan Kelly, a spokeswoman for the Executive Office of Administration and Finance.

Hatchfield, who is head of Objects Conservation at the Museum of Fine Arts, said the corroded copper alloy box that holds the collection was undamaged by the removal process, and appeared to be in good shape. It was a little smaller than a cigar box and, she said, heavier than she expected.

The box was taken by State Police escort to the Museum of Fine Arts, where Hatchfield said it will be X-rayed to determine the contents.

There’s much more at the link if you’re interested. We should learn more about what is in the box next week. The box will eventually be reburied, perhaps with a few items from 2014 included.

See lots more photos at The Daily Mail: America’s oldest time capsule unearthed at Boston statehouse after being buried in 1795 by Sam Adams and Paul Revere. Below is a photo of Pam Hatchfield holding the box after she unearthed it.

1795 Time Capsule

A few more Boston stories–hope I’m not boring you too much.

Here’s why only rich people can afford to live in downtown Boston these days: Boston real estate assessments eclipse $100 billion for first time.

It’s official. Boston is a $100 billion city.

With the real estate market surging, the total estimated value of its residential and commercial property jumped over that threshold for the first time and has climbed to a total of $110 billion, according to a new city assessment.

The increase will mean significantly higher tax bills for many property owners next year, many who already have begun to seek trust deed help & advice, although the extent of those increases will not be known until tax rates are set in the coming days….

In total, the assessed value of the city’s real estate has more than doubled in 12 years.

Although Boston has some of the highest-priced property in the country, its total value remains much lower than larger cities such as New York, where assessors tabulated more than $900 billion in property last year.

Still, Boston is growing at a rapid clip, with millions of square feet of buildings under construction. Commercial and residential real estate markets have come alive. More than $10 billion in commercial buildings changed hands during the first nine months of the year, according to the real estate firm JLL. That’s already more than double the $4.7 billion sold last year.

A similar pattern has occurred in the residential market, with prices rising sharply in many neighborhoods. The average selling price of condominiums in the downtown Boston area rose to $830,000 this fall, a 16 percent increase from a year earlier.

So for the superrich, the economy is surging in Boston, but it will be difficult for small businesses to keep paying their rising property tax bills.

Prof. Ben Edelman, Harvard Business School

Prof. Ben Edelman, Harvard Business School

Here’s really silly Boston story–so ridiculous that it made the national news.

From USA Today: Harvard prof flips over $4 Chinese food overcharge.

A Boston-area Chinese restaurant charging $1 more per plate than it advertises on its online menu may have served the wrong guy — a Harvard Business School professor specializing in online advertising fraud who wasted no time in pulling out the Massachusetts Consumer Protection Statute and threatening legal action. According to a lengthy e-mail exchange published by the Boston Globe, Ben Edelman is seriously agitated, and though the mom-and-pop shop only overcharged him $4, he says it’s the principle….

The restaurant, Sichuan Garden, appears to have thus far complied with Ben Edelman’s requests, including refunding him $12 (three times what he was overcharged) and updating the online menu to reflect actual prices. Ran Duan, who tends bar at the restaurant for his parents, recently told Boston.com:

“I personally respond to every complaint and try to handle every situation personally. … I have worked so hard to make my family proud and to elevate our business. [This exchange] just broke my heart.”

This battle actually escalated to the point where Edelman threatened a lawsuit against the restaurant unless they refund three times the amount they had overcharged him.

Ran Duan at Sichuan Garden II

Ran Duan at Sichuan Garden II

Globe columnist Hilary Sargent published the exchange of e-mails between Edelman and Duan in this article: Ben Edelman, Harvard Business School Professor, Goes to War Over $4 Worth of Chinese Food. Next, Sargent found out that Edelman “Did This Before, And Worse.”

Boston.com received a tip from a “former manager” of a “Back Bay sushi restaurant,” who stated that he had read the Edelman email exchange published on this site, and that when “it sounded familiar” he realized he had seen a similar email exchange several years prior.

The restaurant manager declined to give his name or the name of the restaurant, but described both emails and phone calls with Ben Edelman over a dispute related to the use of a Groupon promotion.

We were then sent copies of several emails exchanged in August 2010 between Ben Edelman and Osushi Restaurant management.

Boston.com confirmed the authenticity of these emails with Tim Panagopoulos, one of three partners who owned and operated Osushi, which has since closed.

Check out those e-mails at the above link.

Edelman has now apologized to Ran Duan for his snit fit and Duan says he’s ready to “forgive and move on.”

Next, Hilary Sargent ran into trouble. From BostInno on Thursday: The HBS Professor Chinese Food Saga Took a Weird Turn Last Night.

Harvard Business School Professor Ben Edelman may have gone way, way too far over a $4 billing mistake at Brookline Chinese restaurant Sichuan Garden. But on Wednesday evening, Boston.com posted an article claiming it appeared that Edelman—after apologizing for his actions on his website—may have taken things into far more shameful territory by sending a message to the restaurant containing a racial slur.

boston-coms-hilary-sargent-is-suspended-for-harvard-t-shirt-incident

Ooops! Turns out Sargent hadn’t actually confirmed that the slur came from Edelman. On top of that Sargent (who is somewhat young and inexperienced) had a T-shirt made that mocked the HBS prof. That was apparently too much for the Globe, and Sargent has been suspended for a week.

Boston.com deputy editor Hilary Sargent has been suspended for one week in connection with a T-shirt she designed—and then tweeted about—that mocked a Harvard Business School professor at the center of an ongoing story she was covering.

That’s the word from multiple sources familiar with the decision.

Word is that the suspension isn’t related to an article that Sargent retracted on Wednesday with an acknowledgment that its facts couldn’t be verified. Details weren’t immediately available about whether the suspension comes with pay or not.

Both the retracted article and the T-shirt pertained to Harvard Business School professor Ben Edelman and his long-winded reaction to a billing mix-up at a Brookline restaurant, Sichuan Garden. Sargent posted the initial story on the incident as well as a series of follow-up articles, which have had wide readership.

One more silly Boston story and then I’m done. Actress Amy Poehler, who grew up in the Boston area, told Buzzfeed that she thinks Boston accents are “just disgusting.”  Well, they are kind of grating, but after living here for close to 50 years, I’ve developed an affection for them. I think it’s interesting how each people in different sections of the city have slightly different accents. The same is true of people in the various cities and towns in Massachusetts. There is a distinctive Cambridge accent that differs slightly from the accents found in Somerville, Medford, or Malden.

According to The Boston Globe (via Medium), the Boston accent also won a “worst accent” competition at Gawker. 

I’ll be honest. I never heard of Amy Poehler until I read about this; and I don’t think I’d like her that much, because she also hates Halloween. She’s dead to me now.

I know there’s plenty of horrible news out there. Feel free to link to your favorite horror stories, and I’ll share a few of my own in the comment thread.

Have a great weekend, Sky Dancers!!

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11 Comments on “Lazy Saturday Reads: Serious and Silly Boston News”

  1. bostonboomer says:

    Peru Is Indignant After Greenpeace Makes Its Mark on Ancient Site

    An expression of concern by the environmental group Greenpeace about the carbon footprint was marred this week by real footprints — in a fragile, and restricted, landscape near the Nazca lines, ancient man-made designs etched in the Peruvian desert.

    The Peruvian authorities said activists from the group damaged a patch of desert when they placed a large sign that promoted renewable energy near a set of lines that form the shape of a giant hummingbird….

    Greenpeace issued a statement apologizing for the stunt at the archaeological site, about 225 miles south of Lima. Its international executive director, Kumi Naidoo, flew to Lima, but the Peruvian authorities were seething over the episode, which they said had scarred one of the country’s most treasured national symbols….

    “We are not ready to accept apologies from anybody,” said Luis Jaime Castillo, the vice minister for cultural heritage. “Let them apologize after they repair the damage.”

    He added, however, that repair might not be possible.

  2. ANonOMouse says:

    The time capsule story is fascinating.

    I like Amy Poehler and I think you’d like her too if you knew more about her. She’s all into satire, especially political. She’s been a super SNL performer and won best actress for Parks & Recreation. And last but not least, she does a super impersonation of Hillary.

    You might remember this Hillary/Palin skit from SNL 2008

  3. janicen says:

    I love the local stuff. That’s what makes this blog so great. We have regulars from many different states who keep us up to speed with what’s really going on so we don’t only get our news through a national filter.

    Honestly, I don’t think Ben Edelman is being silly about being ripped off. We need more of him all over the place to keep people on their toes. I spent a good 45 minutes on the phone with a Verizon rep this morning trying to make sense of their byzantine bill. Turns out the rep I spoke with earlier in the week just flat out lied to me and the guy I spoke with this morning passed along a discount for a year just to make up for the fact that the other rep was completely dishonest. I learned that I will always call them twice to verify info. Why does it have to be that way? I hope Ben Edelman takes a look at Verizon next.

  4. NW Luna says:

    Gun-fetish guy thinks firearm regulation caused Sandy Hook shooting.

    demonstrators here at the “I Will Not Comply” rally denounced a law expanding gun-purchase background checks that was approved last month by Washington voters.

    Initiative 594, which voters passed by a 19-point margin, expands gun-purchase background checks to people buying firearms in private sales or exchanging them in a transfer. There has been a federal law since the 1990s mandating background checks for people buying guns through licensed dealers at gun shops. But high-profile school shootings around the country have spurred tighter gun laws, some enacted by state legislators, or in the case of I-594, by popular vote.

    Speaking to the 1,000 or so people gathered, rally organizer Gavin Seim blamed events like the 2012 Sandy Hook school shooting in Connecticut on people who are trying to regulate firearms. “The people that are trying to take our guns are the ones that are causing events where children and families and people are lost,” said Seim, who ran unsuccessfully this year for U.S. Congress. ….

    Tim Moses, an I-594 supporter who attended the rally, said the demonstration was in poor taste since Sunday is the second anniversary of the mass shooting that killed 26 people at Sandy Hook Elementary in Connecticut. “This is just disappointing,” said Moses, who has volunteered for Moms Demand Action, a group advocating for stricter gun laws.

    Ammon Bundy, the son of Cliven Bundy, the Nevada rancher involved earlier this year in a standoff with the federal government, was scheduled to speak but did not show.