Forecast: April

| Boston Magazine |

TRANSPORTATION
04/01 PAPER OR PLASTIC? HUB CABS NOW TAKE BOTH
Befitting a tech hotbed, all Boston taxis will finally start accepting credit cards, a mandate drivers have long resisted, claiming it will mean fewer tips. Corresponding with the upgrade, a quarter of the city’s cabs are also
being outfitted with interactive media screens. Left unchanged: the charmingly worn-in upholstery and frequent, mystifying lack of legroom that customers have come to love.


JURISPRUDENCE
04/01 OBAMA’S UNWELCOMED AUNT PRESSES HER CASE IN COURT
The president’s Kenyan aunt, Zeituni Onyango, made for a bit of an October surprise when it was revealed that she’d been living illegally in Southie after an immigration judge denied her asylum claim in 2004. Today she’ll try again, this time with some interested observers, including conservative activists (who’ve filed requests for her arrest) and one very powerful nephew.

HEALTHCARE
04/01 HOSPITAL WORKERS CHOOSE BETWEEN RAISES, JOBS

When Beth Israel Deaconess announced it was on pace to lose $20 million this year, it was proof that the recession is hurting even the thought-to-be-impervious healthcare sector. CEO Paul Levy slashed executive pay and has told employees they might forestall layoffs if they choose to forgo the raises they’re all due to receive today.  

SALES 04/04–04/05
The Boston Design Center opens its designers-only sanctuary to the public for deals of as much as 70 percent off. Pick up something for the house, if you still have one.

$10 admission, bostondesign.com.

ENVIRONMENTALISM
04/05 CITY HALL GETS AN EARFUL OF GREEN PROPOSALS

Ever in the market for ideas to claim as his own, Mayor Menino joins a panel at the Down2Earth sustainable-living expo, where four contest finalists will pitch eco-friendly projects they hope the city might embrace.

Hynes Convention Center, 900 Boylston St., Boston, d2eboston.com.

COMEDY
04/06 JAY LENO COMES HOME TO SAY THANKS

Back when the Andover-bred Leno was getting started, it was Lennie Sogoloff who gave him his first standup gig, a $25-a-week job at Lennie’s on the Turnpike in West Peabody. Some 37 years later, Jay’s returning to the North Shore to lend Lennie a hand, playing a fundraiser at Salem State College in honor of Sogoloff’s late wife.

O’Keefe Center, Canal Street, Salem, salemstate.edu/series.

 

CONSIDER THIS
Questions you’ll have reason to ask this month

How many enemies is the mayor about to make? Looking to close a $131 million budget gap, Mayor Menino has predicted hundreds of city layoffs after he submits his budget this month. Not unrelated: This month is also when mayoral candidates can make it official by filing their campaign papers.

Can Patrick’s commission solve this insurance crisis? You’ll recall that outrage over the cost of health insurance reached a crescendo recently, fed by the Globe‘s investigations into how plum deals were jacking up prices. Well, last summer, before the current cries for reform, the governor signed a law creating a commission of policy experts and healthcare types who were charged with finding solutions. Given the acrimony (and attention) that’s since been added to the topic, expectations will be understandably high as that commission winds down its meetings this month.   

Just how big is the market for premium spin classes? Unwilling to yield to this pesky depression, the era of the über-gym marches forward with the opening of the new Equinox on Franklin Street in Post Office Square. The foray into the Financial District gives Equinox a beachhead on the turf of the swank Sports Club/LA. -GEOFFREY GAGNON


LITERATURE
04/09 MATTHEW PEARL DROPS A DICKENS THRILLER

The bestselling Cantabrigian who rendered historical Boston in his novel The Dante Club reads from his new mystery, The Last Dickens, which imagines a Beantown publisher, circa 1870, caught up in the murderous hunt for the manuscript of Dickens’s final, unfinished book.  

Brookline Booksmith, 279 Harvard St., Brookline, brooklinebooksmith.com.

 

CONCERTS 04/17
Bret and Jemaine of HBO’s Flight of the Conchords take their folk parody on the road. Murray would be proud.

Agganis Arena, 925 Commonwealth Ave., Boston, agganisarena.com.

 

 

RITES
04/18 SWAN BOATS
WEIGH ANCHOR TODAY

Marking at once the arrival of spring and the onset of the tourism crush, those daffy swan boats make their maiden voyage of 2009. This will be owner Paul Paget‘s 40th year at the helm of the iconic operation. He’s only the fourth in a line of Pagets to run the boats since they began floating in the Public Garden in 1877.  

swanboats.com.

 

MARATHONS 04/20
Our annual reminder that the best sporting events require only towing cars, not flipping them over and setting them on fire.
[For tips for Boston runners, click here.]

 

BUSINESS
04/20 LOCAL BIOTECHS FACE BANISHMENT TO THE ECONOMIC WILDERNESS

As financial markets have cratered, companies on the tech-heavy NASDAQ exchange have taken a unique hit—these are, after all, hardly the days for risky tech investments, sayeth conventional wisdom. Now, a few local biotechs face the prospect of getting booted from the exchange as rules requiring their share prices stay above a dollar, relaxed in October, go back into effect today. Without a turnaround, firms like Lexington’s NitroMed and Waltham’s Altus could suffer the dreaded delisting, a fate that would make their chances of recovery even tougher as they lose visibility and easy access to what investors are left. (Lexington’s Epix earned a special extension and now has until May to prove it should stay up on the board.)

Not making things any easier is the uncertainty over how healthcare reform might impact the drug business. Though the science-friendly Obama administration has been a boon to companies in fields like stem-cell research, other biotechs are sweating the president’s push to fund access to cheaper, generic versions of their expensive drugs. In the two weeks after Obama announced his plan in February, shares in Cambridge’s tiny Idenix fell 33 percent. Even Kendall Square behemoth Genzyme, which is in no danger of getting delisted, slid 22 percent.

 

MY AGENDA
Robert Pinsky
Boston University professor, former poet laureate   

Illustration by Antony Hare

One of America’s best-known poets, Pinsky releases his latest anthology, Essential Pleasures, during a very busy National Poetry Month.

On 4/7, I’ll be at the First Parish Church Meetinghouse in Cambridge with a lot of friends reading poems aloud. They’re not poets, but folks from all walks of life, which is the idea behind this project. It’ll be the first time I’m ever at a reading with the secretary of agriculture [Tom Vilsack]. [Harvard English professor] Stephen Greenblatt, [Rialto chef] Jody Adams—I think even the Car Talk guys will be there. [Recitation Celebration, harvard.com]

My wife and I make frequent visits to the excellent East Coast Grill in Inman Square, right around the corner from where we live. I’m teaching a poetry seminar in the M.F.A. program at BU, so I’ll sometimes have students over to the apartment for makeup sessions when I have to miss a class.

I’m also blogging this month about the pleasure of reciting poems. A while ago, Newsweek published an article saying that poetry is dead. But I still maintain that poetry’s chances for the future are much, much, better than Newsweek‘s. [poemsoutloud.net] AS TOLD TO BRIGID SWEENEY

PERFORMANCES
04/23 BOSTON BALLET REPRISES A FAN FAVORITE

Boston Ballet‘s take on the story of Sleeping Beauty as imagined by Charles Perrault (shame on you for thinking Disney!) may not be as haunting as the company’s more contemporary works, but the family-friendly show, set to Tchaikovsky, earned stunning reviews when it premiered in 2005.

19 Clarendon St., Boston, bostonballet.org.

 

EXAMINATIONS 04/25
Ever dream of guarding a road crew? The state civil service exam for law enforcement jobs is held today.

mass.gov/civilservice.

 

ATTRACTIONS
04/25 IF YOU ATTEND ONLY ONE SHEEPSHEARING FESTIVAL THIS YEAR…

Fast becoming a New England tradition, the Sheepshearing Festival on the grounds of the historic Governor Gore mansion (the so-called Monticello of the North) begs a little explanation for the uninitiated: The outdoor fair features the farm animals who live on the estate, as well as music, food, wagon rides, and herding-dog demonstrations.

52 Gore St., Waltham, goreplace.org.

REGATTAS
04/27 FAN PIER GETS A MASSIVE MAKEOVER

Known in nautical circles as the "Everest of sailing," the Volvo Ocean Race is a nine-month, round-the-world spectacle that makes its North American stop at Fan Pier. That’s where sponsor Puma will position massive shipping containers to build a full-service race village (shown below) with retail space, a bar, and spectator seating. The boats are expected to arrive today from Rio de Janeiro, and depart on 5/16 for Ireland.

volvooceanrace.org.

 

LECTURES
04/29 LEWIS LAPHAM CONFRONTS THE FUTURE OF MEDIA

This high-minded man of letters visits the Boston Athenaeum to chat about the evolving information landscape. The long-serving editor of Harper’s (who now helms the immodestly titled Lapham’s Quarterly) is a fitting choice for such a lecture: He’s a venerable print icon who’s got a new radio show as well as plans for a blog.

10 1/2 Beacon St., Boston, bostonathenaeum.org.

BEST PARTS
The high points of this month’s cultural highlights

POETRY
Completed just weeks before his death, JOHN UPDIKE‘s last collection, Endpoint and Other Poems, arrives on 4/5. In perhaps its most poignant passage, the author writes of mortality, offering a bleak (if incorrect) prediction of the public reaction to his death: "The wide response will be, I know, / ‘I thought he died a while ago.’ / For life’s a shabby subterfuge, / And death is real, and dark, and huge. / The shock of it will register / Nowhere but where it will occur."

ART The biennial BOSTON CYBERARTS FESTIVAL kicks off 4/24 at venues across the city. The coolest exhibit should be the virtual-reality installation of a three-dimensional Berlin Wall (shown above) at the Goethe-Institut Boston in the Back Bay.

JAZZ When Miles Davis recruited Chelsea-born keys player CHICK COREA and guitarist JOHN MCLAUGHLIN to join him in 1969, both were mere twentysomethings on the brink. Reunited for the first time since their years with Miles, they come to the Berklee Performance Center on 4/30 as giants of the jazz-fusion scene. The high point to keep your ear cocked for: when their collective talents are showcased on a stripped-down, guitar-and-piano-only cover of Thelonious Monk’s "’Round Midnight."

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