WGBH Local News

RelayRides: Car Sharing On The Rise In Boston

By Jaclyn Cashman   |   Friday, October 28, 2011
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Oct. 28, 2011

Watch the segment that aired on Oct. 27 on WGBH's Greater Boston.

BOSTON — Move over Hertz and Budget, there's a new option for renting a car in Boston: You can borrow your neighbor's. At a price, of course.

Michael Monroe lives in Somerville and sold his car two years ago because he didn't want the financial and logistical hassle of owning a vehicle in the city, so he rents one from time-to-time.

"I feel free now that I don't own a car. Between the train, my own two legs and RelayRides I feel really covered," Monroe said.

Monroe uses RelayRides to help him find a car in his neighborhood that he can rent directly from the car owner. He rents cars by the hour and the cost of the gas is on the owner.

One big component of this service is trust, because in this case the owner has to give the renter access to the garage with other personal belongings inside.

"It really is an exercise in community and trust. I think people who are signing up are not scheming for the heist of the century," Monroe said.

RelayRides started last year and is currently only in Boston and San Francisco. It allows owners to rent out their idle vehicles, with the owner controlling the rates and availability of the car. RelayRides provides an online marketplace and a $1 million insurance policy to make the transaction safe and convenient.

Carsharing in North America has grown from 400,000 users in 2009 to 640,000 in July 2011. A recent study projects carsharing will have an estimated 4.4 million users by 2016.

That has Kevin Patton-Hock seeing green. He gets about $150 to $300 dollars a month without any heavy lifting. "It is kind of a cool neighborhood thing. It is funny to bump into someone who is using the car," Patton-Hock said.

He rents out his vehicle to strangers for seven dollars an hour and in return he gets some spare cash.

Patton-Hock says RelayRides makes him take better care of his car and also often uses the money for car repairs and maintenance.

The ICA Celebrates 75 Years Of 'Renegade' Art

By Jared Bowen   |   Wednesday, October 26, 2011
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Oct. 26, 2011

Watch the segment that aired on Oct. 19 on WGBH's Greater Boston.

BOSTON — It was 75 years ago this month that the Boston Museum of Modern Art opened in Boston. It billed itself as the "renegade offspring" of the Museum Of Modern Art. You know it better today as the Institute of Contemporary Art, or the ICA. I spent some time there last week looking at its history and its brand new show, Dance/Draw.

Advancing The Avant-Garde

"It was an important place on the art scene because of the whole idea of contemporary art and really showing the work that was coming out of Europe where the avant-garde was so alive," said Jill Medvedow, Director at the ICA.

The museum opened with a splash, presenting the first Boston area survey of Paul Gauguin. It lured Salvador Dali to its first gala. From there the museum just plowed forward, showing art emerging near and far. Swiss architect and designer Le Corbusier presented his first US show here in 1948.

"One of the things I love in looking at the ICA's history, and the word that keeps coming up for me is rupture; of trying to see what existed in the past and making a break with that in favor of a bold statement that's always facing forward," Medvedow said.

Like in 1966 when a forward-thinking ICA recognized the significance of Andy Warhol and was the first museum to show his films.

Casting The Net Wider

"Sometimes the most important contemporary art might not be seen in a gallery. Might be seen outside of a museum's walls, or in a theater, so we brought the Ballet Russes when we did our Picasso Matisse exhibition. When we showed Andy Warhol so early in Warhol's career, we brought iconic performances by the Velvet Underground," Medvedow said.

Just as it has brought the work of choreographer Trisha Brown for its newest show, "Dance/Draw."

In a regular series of performances on Thursdays and weekends, dancers perform "Floor of the Forest" within the exhibition.

Helen Molesworth, chief curator at the ICA described it this way.

"It speaks to the kind of blurring of boundaries between different disciplines. So on the one hand it's a sculpture; it's constructed out of steel pipe and there's a very heavy steel pipe webbing, woven into that webbing is pieces of clothing. And then what happens is the two dancers mount this apparatus and they wind and weave their way through the clothing. They both look like they're at the floor of the forest, they look like monkeys or lemurs but they also have this dolphin quality of breaking the water and then going back under," Molesworth said.

In the very smart, very engaging "Dance/Draw," ICA Chief Curator Helen Molesworth explores the literal line in art — whether it's in dance, sculpture or drawing.

'A Lodestar For Artistic Expression'

"Language remains fundamental to human communication and I think line remains fundamental to human visual communication. We can't escape it. The line remains whether it's the line of the body in dance or the kinds of lines that drawing give us. It's just a lodestar for artistic expression," Molesworth said.

"Dance/Draw" investigates drawing dating back to the 1960s, a time when Molesworth says art and dance broke away from tradition. The first gallery shows drawings made by batting heavily mascaraed eyelashes, by bouncing basketballs and by swirling hair. It's artists using the body, not just the hand.

"They started to democratize the art process. They wanted to make art with things that everybody had around the house with gestures that anyone could do," Molesworth explained. "Because they didn't want art to be only in the province of the wealthy or the highly trained, it was part of a massive cultural revolution that happened in the 60s and 70s."

Could Your Kid Really Do That?

But it begs the age-old question, could I bounce a basketball and get these results?

"What I always say to people is yes, your kid could do that. But after they started, could they finish? Would they have stuck with it? Would they have the endurance? The patience? And if they had gotten to the end and realized it didn't look quite right, would they have thrown it away and started again? That's really where the art part of it comes in," said Molesworth.

And out. The show also follows the line as it moves off the canvas.

"String and wire are a 3-dimensional line. So instead of looking at those objects as sculpture I started looking at them as drawings. And actually seeing the line having literally moved off the page and into space," Molesworth said.

And forward. Which has been the ICA's charge for 75 years — it will follow the line wherever it reinvents art.

Man Ray And Lee Miller At The Peabody Essex Museum

By Jared Bowen   |   Tuesday, October 25, 2011
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Oct. 25, 2011

Watch the segment that aired on Oct. 24 on WGBH's Greater Boston.

PEABODY, Mass. — On view at the Peabody Essex Museum right now are scenes from an affair both torrid and tempestuous. When artist Man Ray met model Lee Miller, they fell madly in love and produced some of the twentieth century's most celebrated works.

Lee Miller was a 1920s supermodel when she met Man Ray.

"She appeared on the cover of Vogue, she became Edward Steichen's favorite model. And then a curious thing happened. Her image was licensed to the Kotex company for feminine hygiene products. And as a result, all of her modeling work dried up and she had to find other things to do," said Phillip Prodger, curator at the Peabody Essex Museum.

Man Ray was a surrealist artist — a legend already in the making and 17 years her senior. Looking to be an artist in her own right, Miller tracked Man Ray down in Paris — finding him at a bar near his studio.

Prodger describes the moment Man Ray and Miller met. "Man Ray says there are two problems. 'The first problem is I don't take assistants. And the second problem is I'm going on vacation and I won't be back for two weeks.' She says, 'I'm going with you.'"

And she did. It was 1929 and as documented in "Man Ray | Lee Miller, Partners in Surrealism" now on view at the Peabody Essex Museum, the two spent the next three years together. She was his apprentice then a peer and always his lover. They pushed each other personally and professionally, establishing singular styles.

"Man Ray was primarily interested in photographing in the studio and he was a very theatrical artist in a way," Prodger said. "He liked to set things up... you see Man Ray making surrealist compositions in the studio, you see Lee Miller going out on the street and photographing things that she sees. And in fact she was one of the first photographers to do that."

In this exhibit, you will find their disparate take on nudes as well. He finds a softness and rapture in her.

Prodger described Man Ray's rendering of Miller: "It's very warm, very inviting, she looks sensual, beautiful and erotic."

Prodger said that Miller found nothing erotic in herself. "She looks strong, you can see muscle definition, her back is held upright, she really looks like a feminist hero."

Aside from perspective, their personalities collided too. Theirs was an aggressive relationship fraught with jealousy and conflict. Like the time Miller fished one of Ray's photographs out of the trash and claimed it as her own. Man Ray exploded.

"He took that photograph that she had printed which showed her neck, took a razor blade and sliced the photograph across the neck and then took scarlet paint and painted where the so-called wound would be in that photograph and it was dripping down as if he had slit her throat," Prodger said.

Among the most famous of Man Ray's manifestations of rage — his metronome.

"He attached her eye to the pendulum of a metronome and gave instructions that it should be set in motion going back and forth, back and forth, until the viewer couldn't stand it any more and then smashed with a hammer," Prodger said.

And when she left him, Man Ray got over her in part by creating his painting of levitating lips. They are Miller's and he tended to it every day for two years. Lovers for just a spell, Man Ray and Lee Miller remained intertwined for their lifetimes. Their work though, evokes for eternity.

"Man Ray | Lee Miller, Partners in Surrealism" is at the PEM through December 4, 2011

Weightlifting Program Helps At-Risk Kids

By Toni Waterman   |   Thursday, October 20, 2011
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Oct. 21, 2011

Watch the segment that aired on Oct. 20 on WGBH's Greater Boston.

BOSTON — Six days a week, Jon Feinman can be found at the gym, teaching inner-city teens about the lesser known sport of Olympic weightlifting.

"Olympic lifts just involve a tremendous amount of technique and practice and patience and learning," he said. "And what we see with a lot of our students is that it teaches a lot of basic skills in terms of patience, hard work, dedication."

Feinman is the founder of Innercity Weightlifting, a program designed to get the city's most at-risk kids off the streets and into the gym. It launched two years ago with four students. Today, its membership tops 200. But, Feinman says, weightlifting is just the hook to get kids through the door. Once inside, it's all about mentoring.

"Hey, how's school going?" Feinman asked a young student in between reps.

Feinman and his team of 11 coaches and tutors are dedicated to rebuilding their students' lives, offering classes on personal training and in-house GED tutoring. And the two-year-old program is already seeing some real world successes.

"We have some kids who get back into school. There are two students this summer that have graduated from the Boston public school credit recovery program and now they're working full time jobs," said Feinman. "We've gotten three and hopefully four now, students into Year-Up where they get college credit, stipend and internship."

And Feinman added, there are a lot of success stories still in the making, like that of 23-year-old "Frank," who asked that we not use his real name. He dropped out of school in the ninth grade and has been in and out of jail ever since.

"My record, I've got gun charges, I've got attempted murder, robbery— basically violence, gun charges basically," Frank said.

Since joining Innercity Weightlifting, Frank said he's turned his life around, meeting with a tutor twice a week and studying to become a personal trainer.

"I come here for hope. It did change my life a lot because usually I would have been in the streets, running wild," said Frank.

Volunteer GED tutor Kelly Jeffers works with Frank twice a week and said he's made incredible progress since joining the program last year.

"He's been able to take the GED test one time already. He's passed a majority of the test and only has a couple more to pass," said Jeffers. "He has to take the remainder and we're hoping he's the first person from this program to get their GED through the tutoring we do here."

Jeffers is the program's one tutor and says out of all the programs out there looking for tutors, this is the one that caught his attention.

"The guys are really great. They all have amazing personalities. They're all very loud and boisterous and they really like to joke around, but they also seem very receptive to a lot of the lessons you're really teaching them, not just academic lessons, but the life lessons," said Jeffers.

The program has also helped to get 19-year-old "Breeze," who also did not want his real named used, off the streets and back into school. With the help of an Innercity Weightlifting tutor, he graduated from a technical school in August.

"I've got good coaches, good mentors. They're actually training me now for college, because I start college in January," Breeze said. "It keeps me out of trouble. I have somewhere, something to do."

As for Jon Feinman, he said the program's popularity and success is making it hard to meet demand. His biggest obstacle? The uncontrollable nature of the streets.

"My fear is that there's always going to be the streets around that are going to be trying to prevent what we're trying to accomplish," Feinman said. "But, we've seen change happen in some kids that people thought wasn't possible. And just those success stories alone are enough to keep us going."

Consignment Shopping To Stay Stylish In A Down Economy

By Jaclyn Cashman   |   Wednesday, October 19, 2011
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Oct. 19. 2011

Watch the segment that aired on Oct. 17 on WGBH's Greater Boston.

BOSTON — Most shoppers, even label lovers, agree that clothing doesn't give you a great return on your investment, only your sense of style.

To stay stylish in this rugged economy, people are turning more to secondhand clothing.

Sam Hollister is a realtor by trade, but her passion is finding great shopping deals. She found a consignment shop in her neighborhood a few years ago and boasts that 60 percent of her clothing is used. She says she turns over her collection by bartering.

Hollister said, "If I sell a 300-dollar dress I am probably only getting less than 100 dollars for it, but I use that credit to buy another dress so it is kind of like operating at zero, which is great."

The Closet on Newbury Street has been in business for 34 years. Kevin Kish started the business in his living room and explains how the process works today.

Kish said, "It is good to have an appointment. Once someone does that, we ask them to bring in their 15 best pieces. We price it for them and mail checks every month."

The question everyone wants to know is how much can they make.

Kish said, "The contract says we set the price, but we do listen to our consigners. We don't want them walking away or being upset with the clothing that we sell."

Generally, an article of clothing sells for half or a third of the original price. If the item doesn't sell in 30 days the price drops by 25 percent and 50 percent after 60 days.

Each consignment shop offers different deals. The Closet gives you half the sale price, while Second Time Around writes a check to the consigner for 40 percent of the profit.

Another option for the cost conscious shopper is to rent a dress for a Friday night party. A company out of Harvard Business School called Rent the Runway came up with the idea.

Rent the Runway allows women to rent designer dresses and accessories starting at $40 for dresses and $10 for accessories. Letitia Tandean is a BU Student and an RTR Rep.

Tandean said, "I know a lot of college students and I know we can't get a new dress every week. It is a way to expand your wardrobe without really expanding it."

Tandean doesn't get paid in dollars but credit toward a free rental.

Tandean said, "If we get girls to sign up we get dress credits and if we get a girl to rent a dress we get more credits."

RTR lets you rent the dresses for 4 or 8 days. You don't have to dryclean it once you are done — just pop it in a mailbox.

If you don't want to share the profit with a consignment shop, you can also try your luck with eBay. However, it is very important to post photos that really show off the clothing and provide a quality description. The better the photos you post, the greater the profit. You should share your eBay links on Facebook and Twitter to publicize what you are selling.

Paul Revere's Bell Is Born Again In Boston

By Cristina Quinn   |   Monday, October 17, 2011
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Oct. 17, 2011

BOSTON — Patriots young and old gathered in front of the Old South Meeting House in Downtown Boston Sunday afternoon to pay tribute to an old bronze bell. But it wasn't just any old bronze bell. This bell was made by Paul Revere and his foundry back in 1801, one of only 49 still believed to exist. And it was about to be hoisted up to the belfry of the Old South Meeting House, which has stood without a bell for 135 years.

Paul Revere's bronze bell before being hoisted up to the belfry of the Old South Meeting House in Boston. (Cristina Quinn/WGBH)

Boston Mayor Thomas Menino and members of the Old South Association saluted the bell's arrival with choruses, brass ensembles and a hand bell choir.

The mayor emphasized the historical significance of both the bell and its maker.

"Several hundred thousand people walk by here every day. It's part of maintaining our past for the future. It's very special," Menino said.

The bell spent over 160 years at the First Baptist Church in Westborough until the church closed in 2007. It seemed natural that such an important bell be placed in the meeting house where colonists began the Boston Tea Party.

But for some in the crowd, the Old South Meeting House has a personal and more recent connection. Christiana Fisher and James Peterson of Allston were married at the Old South Meeting House in April, when it was without a bell.

"We wanted a bell at the end of the ceremony, and so my mother arranged for everybody who attended to ring hand bells at the end of the ceremony, which was awesome, and now they're getting a bell, so we came back to check it out," Fisher said.

For others at the ceremony, it was just another day at work. Scott Brooks is the crane operator responsible for picking up the 879-pound bell and assuring its arrival in the belfry.

"I work around here all the time. I make a lot of picks, but this is kind of special. It's part of history and part of Boston," Brooks said.

The crowd watched in near silence as Brooks slowly lifted the bronze. By 2 p.m., Paul Revere's bell was in its new home, and in a few short weeks, the bell will chime at the top of every hour, just as it did for the colonists of Boston so many years ago.

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Jared Bowen Jared Bowen
Jared Bowen is WGBH’s Emmy Award-winning Executive Editor and Host for Arts. 

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