The appellation given to city counsillor Brian McLaughlin, who had a tough year. First he's given cash by developer Harold Brown. Then he keeps it in his bedroom for months, taking the envelope out every now and then to look at it. Then he's given more cash. Then he speaks with the FBI. Then he's reelected. Then the FBI goes public with his role. The n Brown is indicted. Then McLaughlin's brother is arrested in an Irish Republican Army gunrunning scheme. No wonder Brian McLaughlin feels like weeping.
They aren't just a whole lot cooler than 'FNX, 'BCN, and all the other top-40 alterna-drivel, these college stations aren't even allowed to broadcast commercials. From M.I.T. and Boston College respectively, these kids pump out a wild array of shows, often with scary bands like Neutral Milk Hotel and Slits.
The 17th and 21st centuries merge seamlessly in this part-museum, part-gallery that sits inside a Colonial-era landmark. Three times each season, Sparrow House holds free shows featuring American artists such as oil painter Marlee Brewster Brockmann and pastel artist Anne Heywood; available year-round are unique handicrafts—ceramic bowls, silver jewelry, polished wooden utensils—by contemporary American craftsmen. 42 Summer St., Plymouth, MA 2360, sparrowhouse.com.
There's a reason Cheryl Richards is our go-to wedding photographer (and frequent Best of Boston winner): She manages to be both unobtrusive and friendly as she preserves your memories in her signature photojournalistic style. You'll treasure her snapshots because, after all those long months of planning, the only things that last (other than the marriage, we hope) are the photographs. 224 Clarendon St., Boston, MA cherylrichards.com/.
You can't call yourself a Bostonian until you've whiled away a Sunday morning nibbling a sticky bun at Flour. Regulars know to arrive early, before the hopeful hordes of sugar babies queue up for owner Joanne Chang's homemade Oreo cookies and berry bread pudding. Daily specials keep the counter lineup feeling fresh and for those after-dinner cravings, the South End location sells sweets until 9 p.m. 12 Farnsworth Street, Boston, MA 2210, flourbakery.com.
Making house calls in a black Hummer (license plate: 'ANIMAL') roomy enough to house a small petting zoo, Dr. Tedaldi pulls up to his patients' homes with examining table, medical kit, and biscuit bribes at the ready. Believe us: Never having to haul out the carrier or spike the water with sedatives makes annual checkups and shots almost pleasant. vetcall.com.
Ever wonder how Brahmin blondes maintain their flaxen hair? It isn't nature they have to thank: They frequent G Spa, where veteran stylist Jeffrey Lyle works his magic. Tucked into a tiny two-chair area, Lyle confers with his trainees—'she's a 6 mixed with 11 and 13'—to customize your ideal color. His easy attitude and careful attention to detail (he pens directions on your take-home products) give clients cause to call him both an artiste and a friend. 35 Newbury St., Boston, MA 2116, gspa.biz.
On the second floor of a restored gray-shingled Edgartown Colonial lies an unlikely retreat. Bouclé may not be posh, but it has a gracious staff and ample charm in creaky floorboards, not to mention an extensive list of fairly priced services. Expect relaxing deep facials and cosmopolitan haircuts, as well as long-lasting manicures from the new nail care cottage in the backyard. Bumble and Bumble take-home treatments and flirty silk hair accessories for sale make leaving Bouclé with a shopping bag or two under the arm almost as much fun as walking in. 12 N. Water St., Edgartown, MA 2539, bouclespa.com.
Some people think B&Bs exist only in the country. This nine-room Beacon Hill inn proves otherwise. Its antique furniture, fireplaces, and four-poster beds impart old-world class, while DSL Internet, cable television, and whirlpool tubs offer modern comforts. Tall, narrow doors heighten the charm of the cavernous rooms, named after local luminaries like Louisa May Alcott and Oliver Wendell Holmes. 94 Charles St., Boston, MA .
Clean home, meet clean conscience. When you summon the grime busters of Somerville-based EcoClean, they come bearing only the greenest equipment and supplies: environmentally friendly microfiber cloths, nontoxic cleansers, and HEPA-filter vacuums. And that, along with an endless reserve of elbow grease, is all they need to quickly transform your unkempt abode into a model of good housekeeping. ecocleanboston.com.
With some limo companies, it's hard to know exactly who will be holding a sign for you at Logan—or what kind of wheels you'll be cruising in. (Jaguar or jalopy?) To get rid of the guesswork, book with Commonwealth, which puts only its own employees behind the wheels of its shiny black Town Cars, Benzes, vans, and hybrids. These career chauffeurs show up on time (even tracking flight status if you're delayed) and crisply uniformed. 250 Everett St., Boston, MA 2134, .
Just because it's not the biggest doesn't mean it's not the best. Anyone who shells out $1,000 for skis, boots, poles, and the attendant paraphernalia might want to come back for adjustments or advice—and at Bob Smith you can. The helpful salespeople won't give you the hard sell, but will listen attentively when you describe your skiing needs and what type of skier you are. 9 Spring Lane, Boston, MA .
Although the Globe Corner Bookstore no longer shares space with the home of Anne Hutchinson at Downtown Crossing, the remaining Cambridge and Boston stores will ably meet your escapist needs. Their comprehensive selection of travel books and mas can aid the adventurous on an exploration of everything from the Freedom Trail to the White Mountains to rural Mongolia. They also offer a decent selection of antique maps if there's a cartophile on your gift list. 28 Church St., Cambridge, MA .
The Barn's motto is It's Hard to Find a Better Buy in Shoes. We'd add that it's hard to find The Barn, hidden as it is behind a Citgo station off Washington Street. But when you do, you've found the Holy Grail: high-quality children's shoes, from little Keds to soccer cleats, experienced fitters, and discount prices. Also, lots of sports gear—bike helmets, lacrosse sticks, and backpacks. Adults will appreciate the grownups' selection of athletic shoes as well. 25 Kempton Place, Newton, MA .
A good sharp knife makes the difference between sawing through cooking chores and slicing through them. Don't get sucked into the manufacturer's preselected set of top quality knives. Kitchen Arts discounts all the top brands (up to 30 percent off three or more knives). Best prices around for Wusthof, the BMW of cutlery. Knowledgeable salespeople help you assemble your at-home arsenal. 161 Newbury St., Boston, MA .