Upcoming Events


The Notes

The Notes 1200 576 Jason Stadtlander

“Sit down over here” Michael’s mother instructed him as they walked along the balcony of Symphony Hall.

His grandmother had bought him and his parents tickets to the symphony in an effort to help him to become more ‘cultured’. He was wanting no part of it though. He could watch the symphony on YouTube if he really wanted to. What was the point of coming here? The lights dimmed a little and Michael sat up a bit looking toward the stage. There were still people gently talking all around the hall. Then a group of musicians came out carrying instruments and sat down. A few tuned their instruments and remained still. Finally, a man came out and stood on the platform in the spotlight and held up his hand high in the air, then looked at all of the musicians and waved his hand, and simultaneously, they began playing the Theme from Jurassic Park as John Williams directed them in tempo. It sent a chill up the boy’s spine. He was instantly mesmerized. Michael watched the musicians playing, each individual but all part of a greater voice.

That was when Michael saw it.

The boy watched from the balcony as the little girl in the summer dress slowly inched closer and eventually sat next to the large amplified speaker sitting next to the stage. She had long auburn hair and fair skin, both a stark contrast to the pale blue dress she was wearing. The girl had been sitting three seats over from him before the concert began and although the boy had noticed her, he did not speak to her. He had no idea when she had gone downstairs. Now she slowly reached out and touched the speaker, the sounds of the orchestra pouring out of it as John Williams’s right hand swiped from left to right in the air while his left changed pages on his music stand less than fifty feet from her. She closed her eyes and placed her head on the side of the black box and was clearly moved as was the boy sitting a hundred feet away above her. A kettle drum bellowed and she smiled, eyes still closed as the orchestra neared the crescendo of Star Wars. The girl, so small next to the massive speaker, the boy couldn’t believe that the sound wasn’t too much for her to handle. He noticed a few people looking at her and briefly wondered if she was doing something against the rules.

The little girl’s smile was illuminated as if lit up by heaven. She had an ethereal beauty about her and an innocent discovery that he wasn’t completely sure he understood. The girl looked back and up at the balcony, seeing the boy looking down at her and smiled warmly, then pointed at the black box she was leaning on. The boy smiled and shrugged his shoulders, not understanding what she was trying to convey. He stared at her, his blue eyes locked on her brown eyes and for a moment, the room was empty, save the boy, the girl, and the music. For a fraction of time, it made sense to him and the moment passed. Then the girl looked to the boy’s right and moved her hands in front of her face, making gestures at the woman nearby.

The woman looked over at the boy and smiled, causing the boy to have a puzzled reaction, feeling like he was missing something that had transpired between the two of them. The woman leaned across the aisle and whispered to the boy, “She wants to know if you feel the music.”

He looked confused, “Feel the music?”

“My daughter is deaf, she’s never heard music before. This is the first time she has ever experienced a concert and is listening to the orchestra by feeling the vibrations in the speaker down there.”

The boy smiled and looked down at the girl who was eagerly anticipating his response. He nodded and delighted, she went back and put her arms and head down on the box, feeling it vibrate as the next piece in the Star Wars ensemble played out.

Suddenly, the concert was no longer interesting to the boy for the girl was so much more fascinating. She felt the music and she talked with her hands, from across the room. He yearned to understand more.

During the intermission, the girl came back up to her mother gesturing excitedly. The boy stepped across the aisle to the woman. “Why does she move her hands like that?”

“It’s how she talks. It’s called sign language.” The woman made a sign with her hand off of her forehead in a motion, “This means ‘hello’.”

The boy looked at the girl and gestured ‘hello’. The girl signed some more gestures, to which the woman translated. “Her name is Kasmira. She wants to know where you’re from.”

“We live in Chestnut Hill.” he replied, to which her mother translated, speaking aloud as she signed, “He lives in Chestnut Hill, not far from where we live in Cambridge.”

She nodded, “What’s your name?” her mother asked.

“Michael,” he replied, looking over at his own parents who were watching patiently.

The girl’s mother signed out the letters of his name.

“She would like to know if you want to come over for a play date this weekend.”

Michael looked toward his parents and his mother nodded. “Sure, sounds good. Just let me know your address.” his mother said.

Over the next several days, Michael spent over an hour each day watching how to sign on YouTube, he was amazed that there was an entire language that existed where you never had to say a single word out loud.

Saturday finally came and Michael and his parents stood on Kasmira’s step. The door opened and the little girl stood on the step and smiled at Michael. He made the sign for “Hello, thank you for inviting me.” She smiled and said in sign language, “You’re welcome. Would you like to play hide and seek?”

Confused he looked up at her mother who was standing behind her, “She wants to play hide and seek.” He nodded and ran in after her.

~ Check next week for the conclusion ~


Friday Food: Get Your Yummy Fries Here!

Friday Food: Get Your Yummy Fries Here! 150 150 Jason Stadtlander

I’m a fry guy – die hard in fact. I love my spuds. Maybe it’s the Irish half of me? I don’t know. I own a deep fryer at home and love making homemade steak fries, no batter, no extra stuff… just potatoes, canola oil and some sea salt. They melt in your mouth and have my boys begging for more.

Now, finding some good fries always seems to be a challenge I take on. I work in downtown Boston and I have a plethora of fast food, diners, restaurants and vendors all around me.  Now, you’d think it’d be super easy finding the perfect fry. The real question is; What makes the ‘perfect’ french fry?

Pick Apart The French Fries… err Pommes Frites

Before we discuss what makes the perfect fry, as all of you know I love etymology (the study of the origin of words).

Despite the name, French Fries do not come from France. The french actually call them “pommes frites” which literally means “fried potatoes”.

French Fries actually come from Belgium (which of course is near France) and can be traced back to the late 1600’s where villagers would slice and fry potatoes during the winter months.

The use of the actual name “French Fries” didn’t come about until the early 20th century (around 1920) when the term “french fried potatoes” were being used. We crazy Americans had to shorten it to french fries.

The Perfect French Fry

Of course the definition of ‘perfect’ is subjective, so perhaps we should call this, the Perfect French Fry according to Jason Stadtlander?

1. Natural cut potatoes – many manufactures ground up the potatoes and then press them into french fries (sacrilege!). Nope, they need to be cut up via a knife or fry press with the skins still on them.

2. Fresh, not frozen or par-fried – I’ve tried them all and par-frying (pre-frying) and frozen just don’t hold a candle to fresh cut potatoes.

3. Peanut Oil or Canola Oil – Peanut oil is very expensive but very flavorful. The downfall to peanut is, some people have allergies and it’s also high in saturated fat. Canola oil is definitely a little more expensive than vegetable oil but low in saturated fat and high in Omega 3. So out of the 14 odd regularly used oils, Canola gets my #1 vote.

4. No spices except sea salt – Too many places try and throw tons of various spices and they just don’t go. Sometimes a little cayenne pepper can be nice, but sea-salt is the perfect marriage to the potato.

5. 400° F (204° C) Temperature – Ideal french fries should be fried for 6-7 minutes at 400° F

Ketchup, Catsup… What ever…

The ultimate condiment with french fries. Although Europeans might argue that mayo is a better condiment. Personally, I like Ketchup, but I much more prefer malt vinegar. Especially on fresh fair fries – Yummy!

Where Does One Get The Perfect French Fry in Boston?

Well, I work in Government Center, so keep in mind, I’m localizing this to the Government Center, Beacon Hill, Downtown Crossing and MGH hospital areas. Strangely there aren’t very many places that even offer french fries because they are Italian or specialty restaurants.

The Bad:

A few places I’ve tried which just rank as terrible on my French-Fry-Ometer and should only be purchased in desperation are (in no particular order):
1. Burger King – Center Plaza
2. McDonalds – Downtown Crossing
3. New Chardon Cafe – New Chardon Street
4. Kinsale – You’d think an Irish place would be great at potatoes but they’re not.

The Great:

Here are a few of my favorites nearby (in no particular order):

1. B. Good – Decent fries, but too small of a size and only one size offered
2. Red Hat – One of the oldest taverns in Boston. Under new management and have great fries.
3. Five Guys – Always love Five Guys’ fries but really love that you get your money’s worth. They are always heaping over with fries.

The Best:

[fusion_builder_container hundred_percent=”yes” overflow=”visible”][fusion_builder_row][fusion_builder_column type=”1_1″ background_position=”left top” background_color=”” border_size=”” border_color=”” border_style=”solid” spacing=”yes” background_image=”” background_repeat=”no-repeat” padding=”” margin_top=”0px” margin_bottom=”0px” class=”” id=”” animation_type=”” animation_speed=”0.3″ animation_direction=”left” hide_on_mobile=”no” center_content=”no” min_height=”none”]


Walloon’s Food Truck – Every Thursday

My choice for the best fries goes to a food truck that can be found at the corner of Cambridge Street and New Chardon every Thursday lunch hour called Walloons. Fabulous fries, fresh cut with sea salt. They do have an interesting flavor which might be some paprika, I’ll have to ask next time. For those that like sweet potato fries (which I’m not partial to), they have those as well.

[/fusion_builder_column][fusion_builder_column type=”1_1″ background_position=”left top” background_color=”” border_size=”” border_color=”” border_style=”solid” spacing=”yes” background_image=”” background_repeat=”no-repeat” padding=”” margin_top=”0px” margin_bottom=”0px” class=”” id=”” animation_type=”” animation_speed=”0.3″ animation_direction=”left” hide_on_mobile=”no” center_content=”no” min_height=”none”]

Walloons French Fries

Walloons French Fries with a nice little pocket for Ketchup


New England Madness and the Wild World

New England Madness and the Wild World 150 150 Jason Stadtlander

For those of you who do not know me, I’ll the you a little secret about myself – I’m demophobic. It’s one of my only fears, that and of course the fears that comes along with being a parent; ketchup stains, malnutrition and the ability to live on ice cream alone.

Demophia is the fear of being in crowds or masses of people. With me, specifically it has to do with crowds in small places. I’m not claustrophobic by any means and I can stand before an audience of two thousand without a problem or go to a crowded county fair… But stick me on a crowded train, a crowded bus or even a crowded road with far too many cars and it’s all I can do to hold myself together.

New England Madness and the Wild WorldMost definitely NOT the ideal fear when living in historic New England. I love the history, I love the culture and I even love the people. What I do not love, is the quantity of people. On top of this, there is the ‘crowd’ mentality of Massachusetts. I can drive through New York City (and have many times) and never experience the types of drivers (and commuters) that we have in Massachusetts. There is a term we have here; “Massholes” and it is so apt.

You can have a guy (or woman) who is the nicest, kindest person you’ve ever met. They will bend over backwards to help their fellow man, but place them behind a steering wheel or force them onto an escalator on the ‘T’ (what we call our transit system here) and it’s like watching Dr. Jekyll turn into Mr. Hyde. They mutate as their eyebrows furrow, their shoulders turn inward and they cannot fight the beast within forcing their middle collection of phalanges to extend itself toward whatever human may be in their way. Add to that, a spew of expletives that can only be described as the opening of a rotting, putrid sewer ejecting profanity at an extraordinary rate of speed and you have a classic Masshole. Something that only coffee can help keep at bay.

To this day, I attempt to explain to my friends and family that live outside of New England the level of stress that I (and many of us) feel when commuting into Boston each day, but they just flat out don’t get it. There is no way to explain to those who don’t live here, the stress that is involved in traveling such a short distance. It is completely normal for my commute of fifteen miles to take between an hour to two hours.

Oh, baby, baby, it’s a wild world
It’s hard to get by just upon a smile
Oh, baby, baby, it’s a wild world
I’ll always remember you like a child, girl

~ Cat Stevens “Wild World”

Which moves us on to the final question that you are all asking yourself; “Why do you live there, if it’s such a pain?”

Ahhh… a question I have plagued myself with for nearly twenty years. I am a farm boy, despite the fact that I grew up in Columbus, Ohio, I spent nearly every weekend at our farm in Loudonville, Ohio and that is where my heart is, in the land, the soil, the trees and cicadas as I lay in the grass watching the clouds float by. Someday (soon perhaps) I will return to that peace that I yearn for so much. There are reasons that all of us have for sticking around here. My reasons are my children. They are in one of the best school systems in the country. There is theater, world class music, world class medicine, rich history and experiences that cannot be compared to anything else right here in our area. That doesn’t mean that my children can’t appreciate the love of nature and the farm. They go to my father’s farm several times a year and look forward to it regularly and there is an enormous weight that is lifted each time we drive out of the last “bury” in lower Connecticut.

Others in the area are here because they grew up here or because they fell in love here and lastly of course because the ocean is here. I too am drawn to the water, though my draw to water is more of the lake kind, being a mid-western transplant… but the ocean suits me fine – for now.

Until I can move however, I shall endure the commute from my micro-environment within my car, stay in my bubble on the train and shield myself from the massholes. Ahhh, coffee. What a wonderful invention.

Paul Revere’s Ride – by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Paul Revere’s Ride – by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow 150 150 Jason Stadtlander

I noticed that a lot of people have enjoyed my posting of the full “Lynn, Lynn City of Sin” poem, so I thought I might put up a few more poems over the next few days relating to Massachusetts. None are quite as colorful as the Lynn one, but here is the first:

[fusion_builder_container hundred_percent=”yes” overflow=”visible”][fusion_builder_row][fusion_builder_column type=”1_1″ background_position=”left top” background_color=”” border_size=”” border_color=”” border_style=”solid” spacing=”yes” background_image=”” background_repeat=”no-repeat” padding=”” margin_top=”0px” margin_bottom=”0px” class=”” id=”” animation_type=”” animation_speed=”0.3″ animation_direction=”left” hide_on_mobile=”no” center_content=”no” min_height=”none”]

Paul Revere

Paul Revere as painted by John Singleton Copley

Paul Revere’s Ride
 By Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
 (of Cambridge, Massachusetts 1860)

Listen, my children, and you shall hear
Of the midnight ride of Paul Revere,
On the eighteenth of April, in Seventy-five;
Hardly a man is now alive
Who remembers that famous day and year.

He said to his friend, “If the British march
By land or sea from the town to-night,
Hang a lantern aloft in the belfry arch
Of the North Church tower as a signal light,
One, if by land, and two, if by sea;
And I on the opposite shore will be,
Ready to ride and spread the alarm
Through every Middlesex village and farm,
For the country folk to be up and to arm.[/fusion_builder_column][/fusion_builder_row][/fusion_builder_container]

Cities: The Beautiful and The Ugly

Cities: The Beautiful and The Ugly 150 150 Jason Stadtlander

Being from the country and having lived in Columbus, Ohio, not one of the most beautiful cities in the world – especially in the 80’s, I always have had a dismal look on city life. However, having lived in Boston now for about fifteen years, I must admit, the city does have its beauty that others might not see.


The heartbeat of Boston

The city is a world completely created by man, nature pokes its head out here and there but overall, it’s a living breathing beast all it’s own. It has its own heartbeat that beats quite fast during the day and although it slows down at night, it doesn’t really stop like a small town does.

It’s not unusual to be in Boston (or any major city) and see pigeons, hawks and owls. The occasional bat is frequently seen as well as squirrels and raccoons. Nature is a funny thing, no matter how populace a place becomes, there are always signs of nature around.


Walking through the city early in the morning, there is a peace as the sunlight slowly filters through the buildings on the concrete and brick landscape. On rainy days you can sit by the window and watch as people walk by with their umbrellas and the  puddles fill up, creating streams along the pavement, gutters and sidewalks. Green grass takes on a brilliance that is seldom seen.

Boston draped in snow

In the winter as the snow falls, it brings a silence down upon the city like a blanket. Instead of echoing sirens, it is much easier to hear the birds, people talking and the wind blowing. Also, there is a strange beauty to it. Don’t get me wrong, I will always love the country more than the city – I have a strange fear of being around large masses of people, I’ve never liked it (demo-phobic?).

However the city definitely has its own beauty as well. There is also something innately solid to the society of a city. You do not just have a small group of people with a small group of talents. There are tremendous amounts of greatly talented people; from the musicians in the subways to the doctors in the hospital to the actors in the theater district. It is a true honor and privilege to see the culture of a city like Boston.


Beacon HillNothing is more fascinating to me than history, where we have come from, what existed long before I was around. Boston is steeped in a great history dating all the way back before Europeans came to the area. Walking through the brownstones on Beacon Hill you can really feel the history as everything has been so well preserved, gas lamps along the walkways and cobblestone streets. It is all part of the city’s memory and it’s a wonderful thing to explore.


The Night

Boston at nightNight life has a whole new meaning when it comes to the city. I went to the Museum of Science not long ago with my children and we stuck around all day until they closed at 5:00 pm. Well, in December, that basically means night has fallen of course, so we went up to the top floor of the parking garage – where incidentally; they have an observatory where you can see the stars, and we stood looking at the city. From our vantage point we could see trolleys going by on the elevated Green Line near the Museum, Bunker Hill bridge lit up and all of the buildings, it was a beautiful sight. We stood there for a long time, just enjoying the scene.

I think all in all, living in the city has helped me to appreciate the beauty despite the lack of greenery. Don’t get me wrong, there are still the ugly things, poverty, crime and in the dead of summer, sometimes the stench, but overall there is a life in the city that few country people might understand.

Back to top