Tag Archives: Providence

Wrong Reasons – Bury Your Problems (Album Review)

The Wrong Reasons are a band from Providence. Anyone who knows me knows that I have a very eclectic taste in music. It generally stays around the jam band scene, but I’m also a big fan of folky music, which naturally expands to bluegrass, slamgrass, rockabilly, country rock, alt-country, and alt-folk. I like most rock music and the Wrong Reasons rock. In short, the albums moves from some twang to rockabilly to folk to rock to garage band music. It reminds me a lot of the Violent Femmes. Providence has a very punk-ish gritty vibe. This album fits that notion of Providence quite well. I don’t know how the alt-country/twang scene got so big here being in southern New England where country types of music just aren’t that big except in the more remote regions, but it’s big in Providence.

Since I just got the album today, I can’t really say much about each individual track. If you like the Femmes, if you like alt-country, if you like twangy garage rock, this album is for you. The album is available at CD Baby (apparently, it’s temporarily out of stock, that’s how popular it is). None of the proceeds go to large corporations, there’s no copy protection, no DRM, it’s just a clean CD where the money goes to the band (and probably some to CD Baby for distribution). Buy this album today. You’ll like it. I promise.

Great Geek Dinner Tonight

I went to the Providence Geeks Geek Dinner tonight. There were 2 presentations (normally, there’s just 1). The first, and in my opinion the better (if only because it interested me more), was by Geeks co-founder, Jack Templin, regarding RI Nexus. It’s a new organization/website put together in collaboration with the RI Economic Development Corporation to help bring people, organizations, and companies involved with information technology and digital media (ITDM) together to build the ITDM sector in RI. I just registered on the site tonight when I got home and created my profile. It looks very promising, especially to recent college graduates who might want to either move to Providence or elsewhere in RI or stay here after graduation and work in the technology sector. I plan on informing all my student employees about it and urging them to check out the site and register as well, especially the ones who are majoring in engineering or computer science.

The second presentation (not to give too much attention to RI Nexus) was by Traction Software about their wiki/blog combo system. They went into a whole introduction to the company, but the interesting part of their presentation was the demonstration. The software is basically a content management system that brings blogging software together with a wiki to allow for quick and easy editing, linking, posting, etc. Having created this blog (though I did not do a whole lot, or any, PHP customization) and my other site in Drupal (again without any major customization short of installing plugins and themes), it was pretty interesting to me. I do plan on looking into it as it looks like it could be a pretty nifty web editing system.

I just want to thank the Providence Geeks for another great Geek Dinner and great presentations (and RI Nexus for the free pint glass). Check out both RI Nexus and Traction Software.

Update: RI Nexus Launched at Last Night’s Geek Dinner

Overnight On-Street Parking

Overnight on-street parking is a seemingly silly issue to be writing about. I mean, this shouldn’t even be something anyone would need to discuss. Unless, of course, you live in Providence. You see, Providence has this silly ordinance that says you cannot park overnight on the street between the hours of 1:00 am and 6:00 am. I don’t know the history of this silly 5 hour parking ban, but I do know some of the reasons the opposition gives for lifting the ban. I’ll list the reasons for opposition, followed by a constructive rebuttal. Continue reading Overnight On-Street Parking

Boston v. Providence… one man’s opinion

Ok, so somehow, the W Hotel/110 Westminster thread on UrbanPlanet has become a Providence v. Boston thread. It’s very unfortunate that this has happened. Since it’s off-topic for that thread, I’ll write about it here. Keep in mind that these are all entirely opinions and that I have never lived in Boston (though my fiancée used to and I have several friends who currently reside there, so I have spent a good amount of time there).

First of all, comparing Providence to Boston is comparing apples to oranges. Boston is 5-6 times the size of Providence. It’s a big city, while Providence is a small-medium sized city. Because of that, Boston has a lot more of everything. Also, when I’m referring to Boston, I’m also including Cambridge and Somerville (at least around Davis) because many people consider that “Boston”, even if it’s not Boston proper.

What I like about Boston… well, I’m not a huge fan of it, so this list is going to be relatively short. I like that it’s urban and most of it is walkable. I like that most of the neighborhoods are “full service” neighborhoods where you can either walk or take transit to everything you could ever need. I like that there is an extensive transit system, though I think it could be a lot better (hell, it stops running at midnight while the bars are open until 2, that’s just dumb for a city of its size). I like a lot of the architecture and the history. I like that it has a decent music scene. I think that’s it for what I like about it.

What I don’t like about Boston… traffic, traffic, traffic. Boston isn’t big enough or dense enough to warrant completely not needing a car, though many of the residents would lead you to believe otherwise. When visiting, it’s difficult to do so without getting there by car. The roads suck, the drivers suck, and the street layout really sucks. Yes, I know it’s old, but it seems like planning just didn’t happen then, like it did with New York. I don’t like the lack of diversity. I have never seen a city so large, yet so lacking in diversity… from the ethnic and racial breakdown to the types of people (walk through Harvard Square on any given day in the winter and 70% of the people will be wearing North Face jackets). I get bored there. I have never lived there, yet I feel like I’ve seen it all already.

Now onto Providence… Disclaimer though… I love Providence. Providence is a small, compact city with all the amenities of a big city (though transit could be a whole lot better, but see what I had to say about Boston’s transit) without the negative aspects (see Boston’s traffic issues). Providence has an awesome restaurant scene, probably the best in New England (yes, better than Boston’s). Providence has a great arts scene, though it tends to be more underground (which is part of the issue) and a great music scene (again more underground), yet many music venues have closed recently. Providence has tons of history, lots of great architecture, and a somewhat accessible city government (admittedly don’t know what Boston’s is like). Providence needs better transit, like cross town buses (I want to get from Federal Hill to Providence College without having to go to Kennedy Plaza). Providence’s government can also be more transparent than it is (though it’s not all that bad). Providence is a romantic city and gives me the same feelings I’ve gotten in cities like New York (which can also be very romantic at times). I have never felt that way in Boston, even after discovering the love of my life there.

I won’t get into the sports fans because… well… that’s just another issue that doesn’t need to be brought up (having grown up in southern CT, I am a New York sports fan and I’ve never heard “Red Sox Suck!” chanted at a concert or a Jets game, unlike what I’ve heard at concerts in the Boston area or Patriots games). But I’ll sum it up with this… Boston is a great city and an important city. Providence, however, has more to offer per capita and lacks all the things that make a big city annoying. Providence is not, never has been, and never will be Boston’s bastard child or suburb. While it was combined with Boston based on commuting data for the US Census, it still has its own metro area. I’ve heard Boston referred to as things like “the Hub of the Universe”. That’s just laughable. I’d like to see what New York, Chicago, LA, Paris, London, or Tokyo has to say about that. Of course, this is all based on personal preference, and only you can decide which is “better” for you. If you ask me, Providence wins hands down.

Now let’s just drop the whole Boston v. Providence debate until Providence has a population of 500k (which won’t happen unless the entire city of Providence turned into Manhattan).

The future of Eagle Square

I don’t really have a whole lot to report on the meeting.  It was actually what I worried it would become, more of a bitch-fest against “gentrification”, though that term was not used.  Here’s my notes and thoughts on the whole thing.

The city council was represented, as was Feldco (the developer that owns Eagle Square), the city (through the director of planning), and Shaws (though Supervalue, the company that owns Shaws, was not).  The councilwoman who represents that ward was very much upset with Shaws for pulling out of this and would like to work with the community, the developer, and Supervalue (who has full control over the lease of the property) to get something there that the people want.

Thus, the discussion tended to stay towards what we want to see there.  Different options were tossed around.  The councilwoman mentioned Trader Joe’s (which is a hot topic around here, but would be ideal).  Other thoughts were a flea market, though one does exist only about a block away, an indoor mini-amusement park (like something in, I think, Seekonk), though I don’t see that going over so well, an indoor open market similar to Reading Terminal in Philadelphia or some market in Boston (Hay Market or Quincy Market).  I am not sure about any of those because for it to succeed, it would have to draw people at least 6 days a week.  Most flea markets are only open on the weekends and a lot of these open markets in other cities only have limited hours, such as weekends only.  If whatever goes in this space is not open at least 6 days a week, the other stores in the complex will suffer.

Because Supervalue has full control, I have no doubt in my mind that whatever goes there will be something that benefits them as they will likely be taking a loss on the rent.  I do hope it will be something worthwhile.  I would like to see some sort of market, whether or not it’s a supermarket, I am still somewhat undecided.  I would like to be able to get my groceries closer to home, but if I can get fresher produce, baked goods, deli meats, and cheeses, that would be great too.

Eagle Square grocery store meeting

I’ll be at a meeting/session/thingy about the future of Eagle Square in Providence. I won’t go into too much of the history of it (in part because I am not very knowledgeable on that), but it used to be a series of old mill buildings in the Valley neighborhood on Atwells Ave. between Eagle St. and Valley St. Many of the buildings were torn down before the residents got the city to step in and the developer used the original buildings for the rest of the project, but a large parking lot, strip mall, and a big box space replaced the buildings that were demolished. It’s that big box space that this meeting is about.

The space was a Shaws supermarket, a decent one (at least by my standards). It had wide aisles, decent produce, and lots of ethnic foods (and it was rarely out of the items that I would be looking for, unlike the Shaws in North Providence). Earlier this summer, Shaws announced the closing of 2 under-performing stores in Providence – this one and the one on North Main St. I have never been to this store and seen it jam packed, but I always attributed that to the size and spaciousness of the store, as well as always having more than enough registers open (which many grocery stores don’t do). I have also never seen the store completely dead, unless I went later at night. Unfortunately, what’s done is done and the store officially closes at the end of this week. Unofficially, the store started closing 2 months ago when they started actually removing stock from the shelves rather than let it get bought out and simply not re-stock. I have been in the store twice since they started removing stock. The first time I realized I need not go back, the second time was to see if I could get any good deals (but they didn’t have any closeouts unfortunately).

This meeting tonight is about the future of that space and what the residents of the area would like to see there. Serving the surrounding neighborhood is a Price Rite in Olneyville Square. They might be cheaper, but they don’t have all the same stuff a regular supermarket has. One option that was mentioned was to split this space and put in a low price store (like Price Rite, Sav-A-Lot, Price Chopper, etc) and try to get a Trader Joe’s in the other spot (the store of Trader Joe’s moving to Providence is a long one and apparently they don’t want to be here without parking, which this space has plenty of). That would have the benefit of the good produce and items that Trader Joe’s has (at really good prices, much better than Whole Foods and many times even Shaws) and the low cost of the other store for the regular grocery items. I’ll report about the meeting later tonight after it takes place.

If you want to go (and if you live in the neighborhood or the city, I think you should try to go):

When: Tonight, August 29 at 7:00 pm

Where: Providence Public Safety Complex Auditorium (1st Floor), 325 Washington St.

Information posted to Urban Planet

Sidewalk dining…

This has been a pet peeve of mine for a while. I enjoy going out to eat, and on a nice summer night, there’s nothing like sitting outside while eating. That pleasure vanishes when your dining “room” has suddenly become someone else’s walkway. I live in Federal Hill about a block from Atwells Ave, the dining Mecca of Providence. The street is lined with restaurant after restaurant. The sidewalks on Atwells Ave are not the extra wide sidewalks found in super pedestrian cities like New York or Boston. They’re regular old Providence city sidewalks. If I had to guess at the width of them, I’d say about 6 feet or so from the building to the curb. The restaurants have decided that they need to attract tourists with their “outdoor dining”. Continue reading Sidewalk dining…

Tortilla Flats and Narragansett Bock Beer

Since I felt I needed some content, I figured I’d base my first content post on dinner tonight. We went to Tortilla Flats for dinner. The food there is alright, nothing special. I had a huge burrito (the Incredible Burrito). It was pretty standard Tex-Mex (I was there once before and ordered their Harvest Burrito, which was different, but also good. Continue reading Tortilla Flats and Narragansett Bock Beer