Category Archives: Boston

Wicked Queer Film Festival (Pre Party)

The 37th Annual Wicked Queer Film Festival (Boston’s LGBTQ+ film festival) will be hosted once again on Xerb TV and begins April 1, 2021. The festival will include 17 short programs and 22 feature films this year.

Learn more about the film festival at their virtual Splash Party on @GATHER this Sunday, March 28 from 2:00 – 4:00 pm. (Note the link will remain locked until Sunday afternoon.) Wicked Queer will be sharing trailers of films that will be featured at this year’s festival, setting up chats to talk about the programming and to answer questions and of course there will be music from the talented DJ Brian Halligan.

Wicked Queer Film Festival
Splash Party @GATHER

Sunday, March 28
2:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.

Click the button above to join the party (it’s free). The link will remained locked until Sunday afternoon.

Boston’s gay bars of yore

Which Boston gay bar do you miss the most?

Russ Lopez book, The Hub of the Gay Universe: An LGBTQ History of Boston, Provincetown and Beyond shares how vibrant Boston’s gay scene was through the much of the 20th century. After WWII, Boston had more than a dozen gay bars. Those numbers would continue to proliferate over the coming decades (peaking in the 1970s – 90s) alongside other businesses that catered to the local gay community.

Last year Machine / Ramrod closed after a developer purchased the building it was located in to turn the block into residences. And a few weeks ago, I shared that the Boston Eagle has permnantly closed. The loss of these spaces has reignited the discussion about the slow demise of the gay bar in Boston, and it made me wonder, what gay bar from Boston’s past do you miss the most?

Hollywood is back in Mass: The Tender Bar, Don’t Look Up, Kevin Can F*** Himself, and American Horror Story

Many of you may have noticed more filming signs popping up around Boston since the start of the New Year. It isn’t your imagination. A couple of filming crews recently wrapped up earlier this month, and George Clooney’s latest project started filming in and around Boston in early March.

The Tender Bar” stars Ben Affleck and Lily Rabe and has George Clooney behind the camera, directing. The movie centers on a young J.R. (played by Tye Sheridan), who bonds with regulars at his uncle’s Long Island bar before leaving home to attend Yale. Ironically, Yale University is less than a two hour drive from Boston but the crew filmed the Yale graduation scenes at the Harvard Club in Back Bay on Commonwealth Avenue about 10-days ago. More recently the crew were filming at my neighborhood coffee shop, The South End Buttery.

Despite COVID-19 restrictions, Hollywood has been filming quite a bit in Boston. Last month film crews finished work on Netflix blockbuster film, “Don’t Look Up“, starring Jennifer Lawrence, Leonardo DiCaprio and Timothee Chalamet. And “Schitt’s Creek” actress Annie Murphy finished shooting a new series for AMC called “Kevin Can F*** Himself” in the suburbs of Boston.

Additionally, the popular FX horror series “American Horror Story” has been busy filming around Provincetown for their upcoming Season 10 which they have code named, Pilgrim. Filming had originally been scheduled to take place in the spring of 2020 but was rescheduled due to the coronavirus.

Dine Out Boston, Mayor approves outdoor dining in Boston, and a huge restaurant patio comes to the South End

sergio mazon, kava restaurant, greek restaurant, boston dining

Dine Out Boston (March 14 – 28) starts next week. Here is a full list of participating restaurants for this year’s, Dine Out Boston. If you’ve never participated or you need a refresher, participating restaurtants offer a three course prix-fixe menu for lunch ($15 | $20 | $25) and dinner ($28 | $33 | $38). Call ahead to inquire about the menu and to make your reservation. For more information visit the Dine Out Boston website.

Outdoor dining on public sidewalks and parking spaces will return to Boston by April 1, 2021 (weather permitting). The program which was expanded last year to help restaurants and the public dine outdoors, was well received and wildly popular. Eater Boston has an excellent article with more details around the program and why it is returning to the sidewalks and streets of Boston in a few weeks, which you can read here.

Look for a large, new parklet to be built by Boston Chops South End on Union Park Street to expand their outdoor dining capacity. The exact number of seats to be added is yet to be confirmed but will be significant and a welcome addition to the neighborhood for patrons who want to support local restaurants but prefer dining alfresco.

Widett Circle: An indecent proposal or not?

Widett Circle is in the news again. For those less familiar with this 20-acre industrial site, it is located between South Boston and Dorchester and is surrounded by I-93, access roads and train tracks for the MBTA. It is currently home to wholesale food distributors and other light industrial businesses.

In recent years the site has been reimagined for the City of Boston 2024 Olympic bid, as a site for a new mid-sized stadium for the local professional soccer team and more recently as a potential site for Amazon’s HQ2. None of these pitches came to pass, but last week new owners of this site pitched the idea of transforming Widett Circle into a regional shipping hub for Amazon. The following day Globe columnest, Shirley Leung wrote an article, challenging the city to think bigger before committing to any significant development.

When this site was studied for part of the City of Boston 2024 Olympic bid, it was determined that a platform would need to be built over the working train tracks and MBTA rail yard and something would need to be done to prevent flooding in the future due to rising ocean levels. The estimate for this work was $1 billion. Ultimately, the Boston bid was rescinded and the necessary infrastructure work that will be required was ignored. Fastforward five years later and a new proposal to convert this into a shipping hub for Amazon has come forth. However, Globe columnest, Leung, has pushed back daring the city think bigger and bolder before committing this prime real estate.

On the one hand I agree with Leong. This space could help tranform a part of the city. It is bordered to the east by an ever evolving and developing South Boston and to the south by an ever expanding South Bay complex. The site has the benefit of a new commuter rail stop and it has great access to the highway. However, redeveloping this site for the future comes at a cost of $1 billion or more just to get the site ready and thus far there have been no visionaries to inspire the city.

Alternatively, if we need to develop a shipping hub this is a great location. It is cutoff from surrounding neighborhoods. The traffic this would generate can be addressed by adding better MBTA access and access ramps to I-93 to remove congestion from secondary roads. Lastly, while a shipping center may not generate 6-figure jobs, it would create many blue collar jobs – something this city desperately needs. Not everyone will work in bioscience, technology and finance and if we want Boston to thrive it has to be home to people from all walks of life and all professions.

In the end, I’ve concluded if there was an opportunity to reimagine this space, I’d like to hear about it, but in the absence of that, updating an existing industrial site into a state-of-the-art shipping center that will create hundreds of jobs (if not more) seems like a good idea. Boston will reap more tax revenue, the site will generate more jobs and the city will benefit from consolidating an Amazon shipping center into one space that will have minimal impact on surrounding communities.

What do you think?

The Boston Eagle has closed

Another gay bar in Boston bites the dust. The space formerly occupied by the Boston Eagle is now for rent.

I started getting texts about four weeks ago that the Boston Eagle (a.k.a. “The Dirty Bird”) had closed and was for rent. After doing a little digging I was able to confirm it is for rent. The lease for the 1,400 sq. foot bar also comes with the use of a license for food, entertainment and liquor until 2:00 AM.

The Boston Eagle has been operating for more than 40 years but for more than a decade, the bar was probably best known as a last stop before heading home for the night. The bar was typically busiest between 12:30 – 2:00 AM, after which many would comment on the “sidewalk sale” that would spill out on to Tremont Street as people would forgo looking for “Mr. Right” and settle for “Mr. Right Here, Right Now”.

The bar also proved to be confusing for many out of town gay visitors since many gay bars called The Eagle, cater to the leather crowd. However, The Boston Eagle was always, first and foremost a neighborhood bar, catering to all who could weather the withering stare from Jack the bartender. Whatever happens next I hope it will remain such and that after it is rented and reopens the LGBTQ crowd will move in to make it their own all over again.

RIP – Boston Eagle

Cape Air approved for seaplane service between Boston and New York City harbor

Many of us have not been to an airport in more than a year, but the coronavirus lockdown will eventually come to an end, and I look forward to being able to travel again in the not too distant future (hopefully). Cape Air is anticipating an increase in air travel as well. Earlier this month the airline best known for shuttling passengers to Provincetown, Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket may soon offer flights between Boston and New York City waterfronts.

The airline received a trial approval for four daily seaplane flights between Boston Harbor and New York City’s East River. Service in Boston would operate from the Boston Waterboat Marina (near the BHC Provincetown Ferry) and from the Skyport in the East River at 23rd Street. Seaplane service will take approximately one hour and cost $400. If approved this will be the fastest and most convenient service between the two cities.

No start date was shared, but I hope this service takes off (pun intended). The travel time would be almost four times faster than the Boston-New York Amtrak Acela, which I only jokingly refer to as highspeed train service. While flight times will be comparable to the Business Shuttles operated by American Airlines, Delta and JetBlue, there is no comparison in terms of convenience. Landing in downtown and not having to navigate airport security or deal with NYC traffic makes this service far more desireable.

2021 Boston Calling music festival canceled

Last week Boston Pride announced that the Parade and Festival scheduled in June would be postponed to a date later this fall. Today, the popular music festival Boston Calling announced it too will be canceling the annual three-day event in Allston at the Harvard Athletic Complex. It had been scheduled for May 28-30, 2021.

Organizers have promised the festival will return Memorial Day weekend in 2022. You can read their full statement as well as information about ticket refunds on their website, bostoncalling.com.

2021 Boston Pride postponed

gay boston

Boston Pride and the City of Boston announced today that the Boston Pride Parade and Festival will not be held in June but may be rescheduled for later this fall similar to other large annual events like the Boston Marathon. The reason for the postponement is due to the ongoing state of emergency from the coronavirus pandemic. Large gatherings in the state have been banned until Massachusetts moves into Phase 4. 

Boston Pride also announced that it will be developing a series of virtual events in June to commemorate Pride Month and the 50th anniversary of Boston Pride.  Virtual events being planned for June include the Pride Flag Raising at City Hall Plaza and the Pride Lights ceremony to honor all those lost to and affected by HIV/AIDS. More information on these events will be available in the coming weeks.

You can read the full media release on the Boston Pride website.

Breaking through the Silence

Hatch Memorial Shell on the Esplanade in Boston

A multi-sensory winter illumination experience called, Hatched: Breaking through the Silence, launches today at the Esplanade’s Hatch Shell. The 15-minute visual and sound performance has been desiged specifically for the 80-year-old amphitheater and has been created by Boston-based artist Maria Finkelmeier.

Presentations will run daily from 5pm to 9pm starting every 20 minutes.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Coretta Scott King memorial on Boston Common to be installed in 2022

Artist rendering of the King Boston memorial

King Boston, the privately funded non-profit working to create a living memorial and programs honoring the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Coretta Scott King shared this rendering of the large sculpture that will be added to the Boston Common next year near the start of Boston’s Freedom Trail.

The memorial is intended to inspire people to reflect on the values of racial and economic justice that the couple espoused in word and action. Through the memorial and related programming, King Boston envisions a more inclusive and equitable Boston. Martin Luther King Jr. met his wife Coretta Scott King in Boston in 1952 when he was studying at Boston University and she was attending New England Conservatory of Music.

Eastern Air returns to Boston

Once upon a time Eastern Air Lines was a major carrier. At its height, all of Terminal A at Boston’s Logan Airport was dedicated to Eastern Air Lines, but that all stopped when it went bankrupt in 1991. The airline had a brief and unsuccessful relaunch in 2017 but the failed brand didn’t dissuade Dynamic Airways from purchasing the rights to the brand in 2019 and flying again under the name in early 2020.

The fledgling airline has a total of 13 planes (Boeing 767s and 777s) at the moment and is based out of both JFK (NYC) and Miami International Airport. Earlier this year, the airline started flying from Boston to Miami and recently the airline which currently flies from Boston, New York City, Philadelphia and Miami to 8 cities in the Caribbean, Latin and South America announced that it will be expanding service in 2021.

Nonstop service between New York, Miami and Boston to Belo Horizonte, Brazil will start in March 2021

Starting in late March Eastern Air will begin flying from Boston, Miami and New York to Belo Horizonte, Brazil. In Boston, the airline will cut into LATAM Airlines monopoly on nonstop flights to Brazil and with most Brazilians in metro Boston hailing from Minas Gerais, flying to Belo Horizonte, could be quite profitable.

travel, handsome, hunk

Eastern’s service from Boston will operate on Sundays, Mondays and Fridays. Miami service will operate on Mondays and Fridays and New York service will operate on Tuesdays and Saturdays. Roundtrip tickets are currently available online for approximately $600.00 with taxes.

For more information, check them out online at goeasternair.com.

Boston’s outdoor dining pilot program to continue in 2021

One of the few good things that resulted from the COVID-19 pandemic was the city of Boston’s outdoor dining pilot program that was intended to help restaurants faced with strict indoor dining restrictions. The move was enthusiastically supported by restaurant owners, their staff and patrons so yesterday the city of Boston announced that it would resume its outdoor-dining pilot, allowing restaurants to use street parking and sidewalk space outside their doors for tables effective April 1, 2021 (or possibly earlier depending on the weather). Below are some key dates for Boston restaurants to note.

January 18, 2021: The initial deadline for licensees to submit an application to receive a decision or follow-up questions from the city of Boston Licensing Board is due by February 19, 2020. Licensees may also submit an application after this date to participate and those applications will be reviewed on an ongoing basis.

February 19, 2021: The city of Boston Licensing Board will notify licensees of approvals or requests for more information if they submitted their application by January 18.

April 1, 2021: The 2021 Outdoor Dining Pilot will start on April 1, 2021, weather permitting. This may start earlier if the weather permits. More updates will be shared in the future.

Boston Outdoor Dining Application

According to the mayor’s office approximately 550 Boston restaurants extended their dining space outdoors (415 of them on public land). Click here for more information about 2021 Outdoor Dining Pilot Program.

World AIDS Day remembrance in Boston

HIV

A different sort of pandemic will be remembered next week on World AIDS Day, December 1st. The impact of AIDS on the LGBTQ community in the 1980s and 1990s is difficult to put into context but there are many parallels to the current pandemic. In both cases, people felt isolated and afraid. Medical treatment and care was not as readily available to the LGBTQ community nearly as quickly and many died alone. Forty years later, there remains no cure to AIDS / HIV but quality of life continues to get better.

The Boston Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence and Fenway Health will host a vigil celebrating life and honoring those affected by HIV/AIDS on Tuesday, December 1, 2020 at 12:00 PM at the AIDS Memorial Tree on the Commonwealth Avenue Mall near Kenmore Square.

Please bring a mask and observe social distancing but the ever resourceful sisters will have on hand PPE to share including masks, gloves, and hand sanitizer for anyone who may need them. A digital version of the vigil will also be posted on social media following the event.

If you have any questions, please contact the sisters at info@thebostonsisters.org.

MBTA mulls major cuts

Boston public transportation

A steep drop in MBTA ridership attributed to the pandemic and rising unemployment combined with the need for state budget cuts has resulted in some pretty scary proposed cuts that include halting all ferry service, eliminating a half-dozen commuter rail stops as well as stopping weekend service, cutting 25 bus routes and decreasing subway frequencies.

As a result of the decline in ridership that is similarly impacting transit agencies across the country, the MBTA is now only transporting 330,000 trips on an average weekday – but is continuing to run the same high levels of service as it ran to serve 1.26 million daily trips prior to the pandemic, an unsustainable level of service delivery.

Ferry service is currently running at 12% of pre-pandemic levels. Commuter rail service is essentially the same running at 13% of pre-pandemic levels. Subway and bus service are faring better but also have seen steep drop offs in ridership so the MBTA is proposing fewer trains and ending service at 12 Midnight. Approximately 25 bus routes appear to be on the chopping block. You can see what the MBTA has proposed for changes in bus service, here.

Some of the cuts to the commuter rail and ferry could be phased in as soon as January, but the changes to rapid transit and bus service would not be expected until the spring of 2021.