Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Safari #30: I'm Such a Little Shucker

Loyal readers know how much this Bostonian loves oysters, and when I heard about free oyster shucking lessons in the North End, I just had to do it.  Friends, it was uh-mazing, and one of the BEST things I've done in a long time.

Mercarto del Mare (aka The North End Fish Market) is located at 99 Salem Street in the North End. Owners Liz Ventura and Keri Cassidy followed their food dreams and left the corporate world to open the North End's only fish market.  Mercato del Mare has been open now for nearly 3 years, so if you live in the North End and haven't been, be sure to get going.

Liz conducted the afternoon's lesson beginning with a description of the oysters of the day (Summer Side - PEI, Kumamoto - Washington State, and Blue Point - Connecticut).  After we put on our gloves and learned about an oyster knife (a dull knife with a curved tip), the lesson began.  Liz's easy to follow instructions had us shucking and eating in no time. Once we learned the steps, the only question left on our minds was what oyster to open and eat next.

My tips:

  • Arrive early.  30-minute lessons are held every Saturday from 1 to 3pm, every hour and half hour.  Given the market's small size, it's best to arrive early and claim a spot.
  • Dress appropriately.  Oyster shucking is not particularly messy but you may get a little splatter on your clothing.
  • Pay for what you eat.  The lessons are free, but the oysters themselves cost $1.75 to $2 each.  Eat as many as you can shuck.
  • Buy food at the market.  The store also serves ready to eat items.  The sushi looked delicious.
Special thanks to Fred, Mikki, and Arturo for a great afternoon!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Safari #29: Boston Waterworks Museum

Today, I visited the Boston Waterworks Museum to learn more about the history of Boston's municipal water system.  The museum itself was once the high service pumping station responsible for pumping nearly 15 million gallons of water per day to the residents of Boston.

In the mid-1800's as Boston's population continued to grow, the need for clean drinking water also increased.  Pollution, industrial waste, and disease were all threats to general health.  The pumping station and associated network of reservoirs helped to provide residents with clean drinking water - straight from the tap.

If you have visited Trinity Church or the Boston Public Library, key aspects of the museum's design will appear somewhat similar.  Built during Boston's Golden Age, the museum and nearby grounds incorporated city planning, beautiful architecture, and natural materials.

I'm fairly certain that your reaction upon first glance at the pumping system will be exactly the same as mine.  It is an awesome and beautiful sight to behold.

Good to Know:

  • Free Admission.  Admission is free to all visitors but donations are always welcome.
  • Enjoyable Multimedia.  Interactive kiosks provide an amazing overview of the museum's history from engineering, architecture, and clean water health.   
  • Convenient Location.  The museum is near 3 Green Line routes (B, C, and D) and the 86 bus.  There are also a number of restaurants located in the area.
  • Take a Walk.  The Chestnut Hill Reservoir is conveniently located right across the street.  One lap is about 1.6 miles.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Safari #28: Boston CyberArts Festival - Trace with Me

On Saturday April 30th, a friend and I visited Zsuzsanna V. Szegedi’s installation “Trace with Me :: An Audience Participatory Performance,” part of the larger Boston CyberArts Festival, at the SubSamson gallery in the South End. 

In this exhibit, Zsuzsanna wanted to explore the idea of tracing a piece of art and then allowing others to attempt to re-create the piece with trace paper.  To trace the work, Zsuzsanna recorded her movements and then used glowing dots to mimic the movement of her hands.  The glowing dots were projected onto trace paper, allowing participants to follow the dots and recreate the image.

In the end, we saw many different images in our drawing, and in the process of creating, we saw first hand the role interpretation plays in the viewing and understanding of art.  The fact that we used different colors and shading techniques took our piece in an entirely different direction.

Even though I’m curious to know what Zsuzsanna’s original piece was, I don’t think it matters.  We created meaning for ourselves in this process, and perhaps this is what she had in mind.

  • The Boston CyberArts festival runs through May 2, 2011.  To learn more, visit http://bostoncyberarts.org.
  • Learn More about Zsusanna - Visit her website at http://www.zsuzsanna.com/ to view her works and find information on upcoming shows.  She told us about an exhibit opening June 10th near Fenway that will present the tracing idea to a larger audience.  Stay tuned.

*Special thanks to Jen Flynn, my art partner in crime!

Safari #27: Boston CyberArts Festival - Demo Shows and Chiptunes

The April 24th Demo Show and Chiptune concert, part of the Boston CyberArts 2011 festival, left me in complete awe.  It was truly an experience like no other.  Both visually and musically appealing, the show was a combination of electronic music, graphic design, expert computer programming, and a large dose of creativity.

Demos are computer programs written to exploit the limits of an older computer system such as Commodore 64 or Amiga.  With a restricted file size and other constraints, programmers, graphic designers, and musicians compete to create the best multimedia performance.  Some examples of the excellent work on display:
Chiptunes, a subgenre of electronic music, use video game system sounds, synthesizers, and other sound effects to create music.  Two local groups gave brief performances demonstrating the ability to create music with old Game Boy consoles, synthesizers, and live vocals.