Happy Massachusetts Ave

springtime ant hole mandala by my 4-year-old

I can’t post any more negative news for a while. There are so many batshit insane things happening in the world that I need my own little corner of the universe (aka Central Square) to be warm and fuzzy. But seriously, there is some great stuff happening in Cambridge these days and I can’t wait to tell you about it. Some of the closed storefronts have found great new uses recently (many are still shuttered too), and I am a happy girl.

  • A few new vegetarian restaurants opening in Central Sq (one vegan)
  • A Pinkberry in Harvard Sq (I don’t care what it is, it sounds happy)
  • The Central Square library has reopened after a ridiculously long renovation.
  • Boomerangs is going to be opening up in Central Sq
  • Jeff Mangum is playing the Sanders Theater in September.

Cambridge is a wonderful place.

Jeff Mangum pen and ink drawing, won in a charity auction

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Thank you, Billy Ruane

Billy Ruane in front of the Middle East on Mass Ave, 1988

Stores, as vital as they are to the health and wealth of a city, are ultimately cold shadows compared to the people that make the streets hum and breathe.

 

We learned this the hard way when Boston music patron, impresario, wild dancer, and all around beloved friend Billy Ruane passed away last week at the age of 53.

While I did not know him personally (although many of my friends did), I am celebrating all that he brought to the city. I did not know it in my music days, but I had Billy to thank for bringing music to the Middle East, and helping to establish countless bands.

Thank you for making Mass Ave such a vibrant place, Billy. You will be missed.

Central Square Banksy mural removed

Before

After
So what do you do when you get a mural on the side of your building by a world-famous artist whose other murals have been valued at upwards of $600,000? You remove it of course!

In all fairness, I don’t know if it was Supercuts or the City of Cambridge who had it removed, but either way, bad move.

(Thanks JJ for the heads up)

Oriental Dynasty Furniture is closing

Another venerable member of the old Mass Ave furniture row is closing. This time it’s Oriental Dynasty Furniture, which sold new and used Asian furniture and home accessories. I sensed the end was coming a few months back when I saw the “Now taking consignments” sign in the window, followed by a permanent sale sign. That and almost every other furniture store on the block has closed (closely watching Bo Concept and Crate & Barrel now).

Please excuse the lame photo. I am now working full time far, far from Cambridge and can’t get over to photograph that often. Or post for that matter!

Have any tips or photos you would like me to post? Let me know: lotuspadyoga [at] gmail [dot] com

Rodney’s Bookstore is closing

This one is really depressing. I love Rodneys. I love it for so many reasons – not only do they have one of the biggest and best collections of used books in the area, they also have an amazing selection of new books, toys, posters, and most importantly, kids books. Rodneys is one of the few kid-friendly retail destinations left in the neighborhood. And it is a destination, about as much fun to go to as the park for my daughter.

Apparently, they will be open through the summer. Everything is 50% off. Come fall, Central Square will shed a collective tear.

UPDATE: Rodney’s is most definitely NOT closing. When asked why, the terse clerk responded that the “city stepped in.” He clearly did not want to discuss it,  so does anyone else have the story?

Empty Mass Ave in the Harvard Crimson

Our little blog got a mention in today’s Harvard Crimson, which we thought was pretty cool.

I was excited to hear that “many of the businesses whose closings are documented on Downey’s blog already have been or will soon be replaced.” Great news!

Apparently there are plans to demolish the old Bowl & Board and replace it with a new construction (wonder if it will include retail?), and certainly the old Adidas/Briggs & Briggs store seems to be getting some action. But I would love to know the plans for many of the others, including the old Alpha Omega store, and the row of empty storefronts that run from about Trowbridge Street to Dana Street (the old furniture row), ans especially the many large storefronts in Central Square.

Comment, HSBA?

Hollywood Express Central Square RIP

After I wrote my initial post on HE, I cancelled our Netflix and rejoined Hollywood Express. My timing was impeccable. They will be very, very missed.

Update: This location has merged with its sister at 1740 Massachusetts Ave.

[Thanks @hannanimal for the photo)