Mapping Boston's Fleet Of New Food Trucks

By WGBH News   |   Friday, July 29, 2011
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July 29, 2011


Summer Cooking Tips from The Summer Shack

By WGBH News   |   Thursday, July 14, 2011
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Jul. 15, 2011

A tasty lobster plate (jazzy4flickr/flickr)


BOSTON — It's hard to find someone who knows more about New England seafood than Jasper White. White owns the popular Summer Shack in Cambridge, and he joined WGBH's Emily Rooney to give some tips on cooking lobster, charcoal grilling and buying fresh seafood.

Cooking Lobster

  • Don't boil lobster, steam it. It cooks slower, the meat gets more tender, and not as tough as when you boil it.

  • Make a rack out of an upside-down colander or out of rock weed instead of buying a new one.

  • Put an egg in the pot. When the egg is cooked, the lobster is cooked.

Charcoal Grilling

  • Buy a big charcoal grill. Charcoal adds a smokey flavor to your meat or fish.

  • Make a big concentrated fire.This way you can use a large range of temperatures.

  • The smaller the meat or fish, the larger the fires should be.

  • When grilling chicken, cover the grill so it acts as an oven.

Buying Fresh Seafood

  • If you're close to the source, go to the source. Buy from fishermen coming back in for the day.

  • Create a relationship with who runs the market. They always know what's best to buy that day.

  • Fresh fish has a shiny look.

  • Fresh fish does NOT have an odor. If it does, it's a few days old.

These tips and full recipies are found in Jasper's cookbok, The Summer Shack Cookbook, now avaliable in paperback.

That 'Dirty Water' Isn't So Dirty Anymore

By Phillip Martin   |   Thursday, July 14, 2011
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Jul. 14, 2011

People row on the Charles River near the MIT sailing pavilion in Cambridge. Boston's Beacon Hill is seen on the other side of the river (Luke Boelitz for WGBH)

BOSTON — The Charles River is a finalist for the prestigious International Riverprize, a $350,000 award for development and implementation of sustainable river management policies. Boston's famous waterway is in competition with the Mattole River in California and the Yarra River in Victoria, Australia.

But there was a time not so long ago when the Charles, named by England’s King Charles I after himself, was considered a 26-mile embarrassment. Indeed, the famous chorus “I love that dirty water,” from The Standells 60s rock song, is still a hometown classic.

Over time, both nature and engineering have painted the rust colored “dirty water” have repainted the “dirty water” green. And no one appreciates that more than Ralph Boynton, who manages Charles River Canoe And Kayak.

Boynton has been kayaking and renting kayaks along the river for 16 years. He feels a personal kinship to this river. He’s been swimming in it, and he’s excited about talks of opening more beaches on the river.

Just a few years ago, Boynton wouldn’t even think of swimming in the Charles.

“The crew teams that fell in would routinely get prophylactic tetanus shots,” Boynton said.

The notion of reopening beaches on the River is a measure of the impact of the $100 million dollar cleanup over the years. The Environmental Protection Agency worked with Massachusetts in the mid-1990s, vowing to make the river swimmable by 2005. Former Gov. William Weld even jumped in with his clothes on to show that there were no ill effects. But the Charles’ old reputation still lingers.

Just ask Sean Nyhan of Charlestown, who has stopped by with his wife Bridget to rent a kayak.

“Obviously it’s not even urban legend that you don’t swim in the Charles River and on a hot day like today it would be great to swim,” Nyhan said. “But obviously, I think if you’re local it’s known that you don’t swim in the Charles.”

So even if the Charles wins the International Riverprize, Massachusetts’ officials have their work cut out trying to convince residents that it’s not the same dirty old water.

Summer Surfing (Online, That Is!)

Friday, July 8, 2011
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An Interview with Christine Zanchi,
WGBH Executive Web Producer for Martha Speaks and Arthur

Executive Web Producer Christine Zanchi knows a thing or two about creating online content that is both educational and fun. A graduate of the Harvard Graduate School of Education and a former teacher, Christine creates innovative web sites and interactive experiences that reach millions of kids every month. She is also the mother of toddler twins! As a parent and a consumer as well as a media producer, Christine offers her thoughts on media’s significant role in helping kids learn, especially during these critical summer months.

Can interactive media such as games, websites and apps really help children learn?
Absolutely! Kids learn by playing games and using websites or apps that have rich, high-quality, educational content. A report by the Joan Ganz Cooney Center presents the results of three new studies that explore the feasibility and effectiveness of using apps to promote learning among preschool- and early-elementary-aged children. Martha Speaks’ own research results that show that kids 3-to-7 years old who played with the Martha Speaks Dog Party app tested up to 31 percent higher in vocabulary.

The Martha Speaks website has one of the highest average time-on-site of all PBS KIDS sites. This means that kids find the site very appealing and they stay on and play longer. The more they’re on the site, the more they learn.

Read More

Summer Reading Recs From Boston's Best

By WGBH News   |   Tuesday, July 5, 2011
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July 6, 2011

BOSTON — Now that the madness of July Fourth is behind us, it might be the best time for relaxing with summer reading. The Emily Rooney Show asked a slate of local luminaries — authors, critics and pop-culture personalities — to recomend the books they've been absorbed in lately. You can find some of their most notable picks below.

You can head here to listen to the whole discussion, and here to see the full list of picks.

Andre Dubus III, New York Times bestselling author of "Townie" and "House of Sand and Fog"

The Hair of Harold Roux, by Thomas Williams"The Hair of Harold Roux"
Thomas Williams
(Bloomsbury, 2011)

This now little-known book was the 1975 National Book Award Winner in Fiction, and it's just being re-released by Bloomsbury USA. Dubus wrote the introduction to the new edition, and he is ecstatic to see it back in print.

"Stephen King actually told me that he thinks it's the best novel he's ever read in his life, including Dickens," Dubus said. "I read the book a year ago; I still feel as though I read it an hour ago."

The Oxygen Man, by Steve Yarbrough"The Oxygen Man"
Steve Yarbrough
(Touchstone, 1999)

Yarbrough is a novelist who teaches at Emerson College. Dubus described this novel, a story of race, class and hardship in a small Mississippi town, as a 300-page poem.

"They're a population of human beings that don't get near enough respect or attention in our culture, in my belief," Dubus said of the book's core characters, who exist at the margins of society. "Yarbrough writes about them with such dignity and compassion."

Tom Hamilton, bassist for Aerosmith, history buff and voracious reader

In the Garden of Beasts, by Erik Larson"In the Garden of Beasts: Love, Terror, and an American Family in Hitler's Berlin"
Erik Larson
(Crown, 2011)

The author of the much-loved "The Devil in the White City," a novelistic account of a serial killer in the background of the 1893 World's Fair in Chicago, returns with the historical narrative of the family of U.S. Ambassador to Nazi Germany in the first years of Hitler's reign. The book follows the ambassador, William E. Dodd, and his daughter as they come to recognize the danger growing in Berlin.

"Everything was just being rebuilt, and reaccomplished. And then all of a sudden it just started getting darker and darker," Hamilton said. "Over the period of the book you find out how that enthusiasm turns into raw disillusionment and raw terror."

City of Thieves, by David Benioff"City of Thieves"
David Benioff
(Viking, 2008)

This comedic novel follows a pair of young adults in the midst of the Nazi siege of Stalingrad in 1942. A Russian officer forces the two of them to find him a coveted carton of eggs, setting off a bizarre and tricky search.

"Like Dorothy with the Tin Man and the Cowardly Lion, just trying to deal with life as they go on this mission to try to find eggs for the Russian general," Hamilton said.

Steve Almond, author of "Rock and Roll Will Save Your Life"

Trophy, by Michael Griffith"Trophy"
Michael Griffith
(Triquarterly/Northwestern University Press, 2011)

"It's about a carwash 'host associate' who is crushed by a giant bear. And the novel takes place, I kid you not, in the final second of his life," Almond said. "I promised you total weirdness, Emily, and I am supplying it."

"But it's an absolutely brilliant, strange meditation on love and loss and how memory functions in our life." Almond pointed out it is likely the only novel you'll read on the beach that takes place within the span of a single second.

Songbook, by Nick Hornby"Songbook"
Nick Hornby
(McSweeney's, 2002)

This memoir from the best-selling author of "High Fidelity" chronicles his personal relationship to a set of very specific, beloved songs. "It really revolves around the emotional experiences that people have when they listen to particular songs, the eras that they relive," Almond said.

Carlo Rotella, author of Cut Time: An Education at the Fights; director of American Studies at Boston College; columnist for the Boston Globe

The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down, by Anne Fadiman "The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down"
Anne Fadiman
(Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1998)

A famous anthropological study of Lia Lee, daughter of a Laotian Hmong family living in California, who suffered from severe epilepsy.

Rotella described it as several books at once, so you can have a huge variety at your fingertips for your summer reading: "It's one book that's a family drama, a medical thriller, an immigrant narrative. It gives you a history of the Hmong people from pre-history through the Cold War."

The Heroes, by Joe Abercrombie"The Heroes"
Joe Abercrombie
(Orbit, 2011)

This fantasy writer's latest installment, part of the "First Law" trilogy, is a dark and strange war story. "If you take J.R.R. Tolkien, and reverse the polarity of everything in J.R.R. Tolkien," Rotella said, you would end up with something like this trilogy. "They're sort of noir fantasy stories. In a lot of ways the opposite of that kind of J.R.R. Tolkien kind of noble, high-flown heroic fantasy."

Hank Phillippi Ryan, investigative reporter for 7News in Boston; award-winning author of the novel "Drive Time"

Starvation Lake, by Bryan Gruley"Starvation Lake"
Bryan Gruley
(Touchstone, 2009)

"I think this is perfect for the zeitgeist in Boston right now," Ryan said. "It is a murder mystery about hockey!" Set in a small Michigan town, the fictional Starvation Lake of the title, the novel follows an reporter who investigates the murder of the local hockey coach.

Gruley has often been compared to Dennis Lehane. "It is that kind of tone: that sort of bleak, personal tone," Ryan said.

The Other Side of Dark, by Sarah Smith"The Other Side of Dark"
Sarah Smith
(Atheneum, 2010)

With a plot concerning treasure hidden by an ex-slave trader and Frederick Law Olmstead's Emerald Necklace parks, this young adult novel comes right out of local history: "It's a really interesting — a little bit spooky, a little bit scary — look into Boston history." Ryan said. The protagonists are a young white girl and a young black boy who get drawn into a drama with the ghosts of the past. "It also is a really kind of straightforward story about the complicated racial issues that still linger here."

Kristan Higgins, New York Times and USA TODAY bestselling author of seven romantic comedies, including "My One And Only"

"Eleven Scandals to Start to Win a Duke's Heart"
Sarah Maclean
(Avon, 2011)

"Summer isn't complete unless you have a romance novel on the beach," Higgins said. This one in particular is a romp around British high society, full of scandal, gossip and comedy. "It's a very heartfelt historical romance," she said.

A Lot Like Love, by Julie James"A Lot Like Love"
Julie James
(Berkley, 2011)

Another screwball romance novel, "A Lot Like Love" follows a businesswoman who is pressured by an FBI agent to give up information on her Mafia-connected associates.


Music You Should Hear This Summer

By WGBH News   |   Tuesday, June 28, 2011
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Steve Almond counts Marissa Nadler as one of the artists to listen to this summer.

June 28, 2011

Steve Almond, author of Rock and Roll Will Save Your Life, and Stephen Thompson of NPR Music, joined The Emily Rooney Show to talk about their favorite summer music. With many holiday weekends throughout the year, there's often an undertone of melancholy or reflection. “What is so great about July Fourth weekend, is that sort of the unofficial motto of the weekend is: ‘Woooo!’” Thompson said. “It’s a perfect occasion to think about what makes great summer music.”

"I love summer music that kind of gives you that figurative kick in the pants that goes along with blowing something up," Almond added.

So here are a few of the critics' choices, some new and some classic, which they hope you'll keep in mind when you're thinking of fireworks — or whatever else you're up to this summer. And you can check out the full conversation and see more picks here.

Stephen Thompson's Picks

“Always Like The Son” by Release the Sunbird, from “Come Back To Us”“ — The name of the band, which was recently started by the leader of indie rock band Rogue Wave, refers to a Robert Pollard song. But in any case, as Thompson said: "It sounds like a euphemism for something awesome.”

“Daisy” by Fang Island, from “Fang Island” — Thompson pointed to this one as a "Woooo!" kind of song. “The Go-Gos called, they want their handclaps back,” Almond added.

“It’s Time To Party” by Andrew W.K.from “I Get Wet” “ — "His first full-length record has three different songs containing the word party,” Thompson said. The song is “The kind of wonderfully, kind of overdriven, roll your windows down, blare the music as loud as you can, you can’t go wrong.” And, frankly, most of W.K.'s songs are incitements to party, so you really can't go wrong.

“Rolling In The Deep” by Adele, from “21” — “Just a record that everybody knows, but is a perfect summer song.” It's been a huge hit for many months already: it debuted all the way back in November. “Seems like it’s kind of taken its place as one of the big songs of this summer," Thompson said.

“Strawberry Letter 23” by Shuggie Otis, from “Inspiration Information” — "If you’ve got a group of people coming over for a barbecue, and you want that perfect choice, that perfect album to put on, that’s not too obvious — like for example the Adele pick I just made — and it’s gonna surprise a lot of people but everyone’s gonna love it.” Dating to 1977, Thompson says the song is a lost soul classic that's been recently rediscovered.

"Waterloo Sunset" by The Kinks, from "Something Else by The Kinks" — An old standby, from 1967, that Thompson said is possibly his favorite song of all time.

Steve Almond's Picks

“The Sun Always Reminds Me Of You” by Marissa Nadler, from “Marissa Nadler” —  Nadler is an acclaimed singer-songwriter based in Boston, and this is the one of the singles from her latest album, just released this month. “Her voice is a winter, but the arrangements are summer," Thompson said. “Like it’s a beautiful summer day, but you just had a depressing break-up kind of feeling," Almond added. Rooney got to see the song bring out the "sensitive male" in both of them.


“Everything Is Everything”
by Booker T. Jones, covering Lauryn Hill, from “The Road From Memphis” — The much loved hip-hop and R&B artist gets the instrumental cover treatment. "This is just a party anthem," Almond said. "There’s no words, just interpretive dance. You’re around the pool, maybe there’s some alcoholic beverages. And this is just what you listen to.”
“We Almost Lost Detroit” by Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr., covering Gil Scot-Heron — Almond felt he had to give a shout-out to his favorite artist, the legendary spoken-word artist and musician Gil Scot-Heron, who passed away last month. “To me, that’s late night summertime, and you’ve had a lot of drinks, and you’ve maybe had more than drinks, Emily, to be honest with you," Almond said.

“Summertime Thing” by Chuck Prophet, from “No Other Love” — “This is the quintessential summertime song," Almond said. "And it’s been my summer anthem for as long as I”ve known about it. It even mentions The Beach Boys, for extra bonus points.”

Almond paraphrased the lyrics to get at the summer vibe of the song: “Money in the bank, I’m not gonna save it, we’re having a party – or maybe not it’s not even organized as a party, I just hope this one chick comes by. That is my summer.”
“Youth Of 1000 Summers” by Van Morrison,  from “Enlightenment” — Just one more classic: this 1990 track from the legendary Irish singer-songwriter. “I know Stephen Thompson and I can agree on that," Almond said.

About the Authors
The WGBH News team comprises the WGBH radio newsroom, The Callie Crossley Show, The Emily Rooney Show and WGBH Channel 2 reporters and producers from Greater Boston and Basic Black. 
Phillip Martin Phillip Martin
Phillip W. D. Martin is the senior investigative reporter for WGBH Radio News and executive producer for Lifted Veils Productions. In the past, he was a supervising senior editor for NPR, an NPR race relations correspondent and one of the senior producers responsible for creating The World radio program in 1995. He was a Nieman Fellow at Harvard in 1998. Learn more at


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