Somerville Ave, gateway to the underworld

Or that’s what it looks like, given the array of 20-plus earthmoving machines scattered along just the third of it’s length that I carefully traversed yesterday in it’s unending dig of construction.

For those of you not fortunate enough to live near The Hub, Somerville Ave is a stoplight strewn, respectably sized street running along the southeast corner of Somerville. It’s a not terribly distinguished stretch of various commercial enterprises going from Porter Square in Cambridge to Union Square in Somerville. It’s not even terribly central to Somerville as a city; either Broadway, Highland Ave, or ironically enough Medford St (which does go to Medford) are much more obviously the major avenues in Somerville.

And it’s been under construction for years.

Seriously, though: how long has it been? 2 years certainly, has it been 3? And I’m not talking small bits: large sections have been torn up and partly rebuilt regularly, and every other month one stretch or another seems to be shut down with a detour around it. And we’re not talking a Big Dig or a highway or bridges or anything: this is just a plain old city surface street. Why do they need to dig up sections repeatedly? I know modern utility infrastructure, especially when done right, is a complex undertaking: still, it feels like the doctor who forgot to count how many sponges they used in an operation.

Ah – I see. It was supposed to have begun in May 2007, or so the very nicely done Somerville city website claims. I would have sworn there was major construction there earlier, maybe when I was in college, and wasn’t it under construction in high school too? It sure feels like forever. And no, I have little right to complain: I don’t live in Somerville, although I do commute there from time to time.

But I hear you ask, dear reader: why the gateway to the underworld? Why that phrase, why not some clever twist on it’s gateway status to Union Square, or Portage Square instead? Why not just the more plain spoken “What the heck is up with Somerville Ave?”

  • They’re digging pretty deep. Who knows what they’ll find: Massachuset artifacts, alewife fossils, or tidbits of drumlin artifacts? Seriously: one of the half-dug up streets has a solid 8-10 inch differential between the two halves. That’s after they’ve done the temporary repaving.
  • If it weren’t for the fact that it’s A) a government agency, and 2) a significant utility and roadway improvement project, then I’d have to believe that someone made a deal with the underworld to string out a project this long.
  • It makes for a good post title.

In any case, one of the best things that can be said for the construction is that it can’t make Union Square traffic any more confusing. Just slower.

The mid-summer gas crisis is over

There, it’s on the internet, so it must be true.

Srsly – besides the obvious news pundits, economic indicators, oil futures, and Middle east politics… Beyond the local gas price surveys, and the raft of traditional discount gas stations in the mid to low 4.0x’s. Beyond the breaking of the weather from miserably hot with too much air conditioning, to miserably humid and rainy – it’s not just that running your wipers uses less energy.

No, it’s finally noticing that the Shield Mini Mart in Summvile just inbound of Ball Sq is now listing regular for $3.95/gallon. Of course their “3” is half-broken, so it ruins the symmetry of the sign a tad, but as a discount station I’ll forgive them.

But $3.95 is a real indicator – unlike the numerous $3.99 places we’ve seen on and off the past two weeks. Pricing at $3.99 is just playing the psychology of 3 versus 4; of an at-first-glance 25% savings from your $4.05 or $4.13 competitor down the street. Pricing at $3.97 – which I saw last week – could be used by a desperate discount place to compete against the lucky name brand gas that could dip to $3.99 for a few days due to a good contract. But pricing at $3.95? That’s a clear shot across the bows of high prices, a definite signal that the peak has passed! Yay! Good times ahead! Make those vacation plans, and book your hotels now! Enjoy!

Universal Art Hub’ed in da House

There was quite a string of rather cutting postings on UniversalHub earlier this morning. Glad to see a few more chipper ones coming by. I could chalk this posting up to either adamg turning into Grumpy Web Guy for a day, or just to his cutting-edge local scene commentator, which is what he really is, at least in terms of online persona. Some observations include:

– Art. Yeah, we all know it when we see it. Fairly tasteful; I didn’t mind the design. Mousing over the address etc. in the bottom bar shows something interesting (who’s contributing) too. I find it rather silly that the whole website is only like a third of a browser window tall though – massive waste of the bottom of my screen.

– Do you realize you’ve been had, don’t you? They designed the arthouseboston site – notice the super trendy lowercase fonts – they knew would annoy, and got you to go and link to them, thus driving their traffic up today with hundreds of thousands of new viewers. I think their plan backfired, since the next event doesn’t seem to be until mid-June, which is faaaar too long for web memory to notice.

Damn, now the got me to link to them too. And I try hard not to be a shill, either.

– Great idea. I hope there’s someone still doing it when I want to sell my house, although I’m not sure what kind of art will fit in a 1940’s crafts-style house with smaller rooms and too much furniture. And it’s only a crafts-style house; it doesn’t have quite enough fancy wood and built-ins with filigree to really qualify. But at least the corner breakfront is in good shape and the doors close neatly, something lacking in many Meffa and Summaville double and triple deckers.

In any case, if you’re in Boston, add UH to your feed reader; it’s worth the scattering of local stories – even the turkeys. I sometimes wonder if how many other police departments are as amusingly laconic as BPDNews is.

Lowes Assembly Square closing next week

Not that it’s a big loss, but still, that’s where I saw the first LoTR on opening day – took half day off of work to see the first general matinee showing in the area.

“Loews Assembly Square theater’s days are numbered; Ron Newman has confirmed with the manager that the theater will close after regular operations on Monday, January 15.”

Via UniversalHub, which I’m now reading from derspatchel.