The Skinny: February

FIZZLING

Sales of the Red Sox’s much-hyped new road uniforms. The gray and navy duds, introduced with great fanfare at the height of the holiday shopping season, met a "lukewarm response" at the Official Red Sox Team Store, says manager Tim Pettit. "It just wasn’t a high-enough-volume sale," he says, noting that the new roadies sold no better than the ones they replaced. "The bread and butter is still the traditional navy blue hat with the B."

For all the recent hullabaloo over updated Sox logos and uniforms, Pettit says, the surest way to boost merchandise sales is to sign an exciting new player. "A Mark Teixeira signing would have been much more impactful for us than just a jersey change," he says. With Teixeira now dressing in pinstripes, here’s hoping the local nine isn’t left with the same lament come season’s end. -Jason Schwartz

ZOOMING

More than a half-million feathered interlopers, at speeds as high as 80 miles per hour, over Nantucket’s Madaket beach. Swooping down from the Canadian Arctic, the swarms of long-tailed ducks show up around November and then begin to disappear in February. Islanders can’t say how long the birds have been making the annual trip—perhaps that’s because nobody has ever gotten as all-aflutter over them as E. Vernon Laux, the ornithologist and NPR contributor who moved to Nantucket two years ago. Since then, he’s been tracking the ducks and recruiting fellow watchers from around the globe with promises of a sight that, he says, "happens nowhere else in the world!"

This season, the locals also caught on. "At first, you’re standing there figuring you need your eyes checked," says Michael Hite, a longtime island homeowner. "But then a line of black dots, like little grains of pepper, appears. And then another. And another. It sounds like a freight train coming through." Crowds now regularly gather on desolate winter beaches to witness the spectacle. It’s practically the new de rigueur Nantucket pastime (a recent outing saw a few naturalists braving the elements with long-stemmed glasses of white wine).

In December, Laux assisted the Massachusetts Audubon Society and the U.S. Geological Survey in attaching transmitters to a dozen ducks to record their daily routines and determine where most go when they leave at the end of this month. "I don’t know anyone who gets more excited about birds than me," Laux says. Among his neighbors, that may be changing.  -Alyssa Giacobbe

ABANDONED

A half-century of teetotaling tradition, by Harvard Square’s Club Passim. The folk venue has long been a launching pad for singer-songwriters—from Bob Dylan to Tracy Chapman—but in 50 years of existence, it’s never had a license to serve alcohol. In November, however, it secured the green light from the Cambridge License Commission to offer beer and wine, with final approval from the state expected this month.

Club Passim initially shunned serving liquor because Bob Donlin, the owner (with his wife) until 1995, preferred a more sober atmosphere. (Though, as local writer and performer Scott Alarik notes, the original beatnik patrons were "imbibing other substances" anyway.) Today it’s run by a nonprofit board, whose members, according to executive director Dan Hogan, have "overwhelmingly requested" the license. With the club feeling the effects of the recession, he says, the need for suds-fueled additional revenue has become critical.

Longtime Passim performer Ellis Paul welcomes the change, finding that dry audiences are "almost overly respectful." But is there a risk that patrons may now get too rowdy? "I don’t think we’ll need a folk bouncer," he says.
-Noah Schaffer