Thursday, August 20, 2009

I have seen the future, and it is now.

The theme of last month's ArtBeat Festival was "Somerville...of the Future". Well, this morning I witnessed a little slice of futuristic chaos: the collision of a bicycle with the fire department's brand new Prius. According to the bicyclist, the Prius stopped suddenly to avoid a pedestrian, and he couldn't stop in time to avoid hitting it. He seemed shaken but not injured, and his bike was fine (this conveniently happened in front of Ace Wheel Works), but the Prius, a beautiful red shiny thing with white stripes and FIRE DEPARTMENT written across both sides in white letters, suffered a few scratches on its right rear quarter panel. What ensued was a convergence on the scene of every sort of ground assault vehicle in the city's possession: police car, motorcycle, fire truck, you name it. Sirens and lights and about 10 cops and firemen making sure the guy was all right, filling out forms and getting information, taking pictures; the most sweet and apologetic group of law enforcement officials I've ever seen. Seriously. I was on my pink bike with my cell phone camera; they paid me no mind, so I snapped a few Harriet the Spy-style shots of the little spectacle. Apparently, when earth-friendly vehicles go bad, everybody wins. Yay!

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Tuesday, August 18, 2009 launches "Your Town" Somerville

In the wake of the now-defunct printed local news section of the Globe, has devoted a section of its website to Somerville news. "Your Town" Somerville contains local news, announcements, links to blogs and local businesses, even grocery coupons.

The very best thing about the site is the "Report A Problem" section. It's a place where people can use a Google map to report issues like potholes, broken streetlights, anything the city needs to eventually deal with, and then it can be updated when (if?) the problem is fixed. People have been using it quite extensively, and from a whatever-thousand-foot view, Somerville is a such a clusterfuck of potholes that you can't see the map in some places. Of course, we knew that already, but looking at all the little orange markers on the map is pretty amusing. The good news is that out of the approximately 50 million reported, one has been fixed.

Travis Anderson is's Somerville correspondent, and he can be reached by e-mail at with any juicy tips you might have (I'm still waiting for more news of raptors on hoverboards).

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Monday, August 10, 2009

The Giobbe House

This beautiful house had been sitting unoccupied at the corner of Summer St. and Benton Rd. for quite some time recently, with a "sale pending" sign on it. I've spent years walking by it and admiring the almost 2-story stained glass window that looks out over the back yard. It's one of the few houses in the neighborhood with lots of land around it, part of which slopes down in a rolling hill toward the sidewalk and the building next door. It's always been surrounded by flowering trees and shrubs where the sparrows hang out. Because there was some really crappy white vinyl siding on the outside, I'd always assumed that the house was probably equally disrespected inside, but to my surprise, and ultimate dismay, that was not the case.

The sale pending sign having disappeared now (I have no idea what the place sold for), workmen have been showing up and making a lot of noise and dust. Curious as to whether they were going to keep it as a single-family or condo-ize, and dying to have a look inside, when I noticed the side door open, I walked in and could not believe what I saw. It was so amazingly well-preserved inside, with all the original molding, framing, stained glass, built-in drawers and bookcases. The wallpaper was even in beautiful condition. The man working in there told me that they were in the process of ripping all of it out. They're selling all the wood and fixtures, including the banister for the central circular staircase, to contractors, and taking all the stained glass out to be sold, as well. They're turning the house into three modern condos, and even though the wood shingles under the siding were in pretty good shape, they're throwing siding up again for the new place. Not that it will particularly make a difference at that point, as it will no longer belie the true nature of the place.

I'm so sad about this. I've really loved that house and was hopeful that someone would buy it and lovingly restore it, but instead they've ripped out trees, torn off all the window and door frames, and all I've been hearing for the last week is the sound of power tools and falling lumber. Fortunately, I was able to get some pictures of the interior, which you can see below.

More pictures here.

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