Weekend Redux: What You Missed

Just because you spent all weekend in the virtual waiting room on RedSox.com doesn’t mean the world stopped moving. We round up the notable stories you missed.

1197295008 As we strolled the city streets, tossing our empty Starbucks cup into a trash can already stuffed like a pinata with them, we were overcome with holiday spirit, much like the daily papers. The Herald covered the Downtown Crossing happenings with a slightly Scrooge-like view. “Are You Kidding?” screamed the cover, referencing a story about animal activists’ objections to the petting zoo set up as a desperate ploy to lure shoppers.

“Downtown Crossing is probably the worst environment for farm animals that you could get,” said Helen Rayshick, 56, founder of the Massachusetts Animal Rights Coalition, which is holding weekly protests at the temporary weekend zoo. “It’s really bizarre.”

We saw the animals last weekend, and it was a pretty depressing sight. Some fluffy hens in a small circle of chicken wire with a handful of hay tossed in the middle. The kids heading to The Nutcracker seemed to like them, but if we want to see a goat, we’ll go to a fair.

In other Downtown Crossing news, it seems that businesses are skeptical of the city’s efforts to help them out. Only 20 businesses applied for a share of the much-ballyhooed $20,000 in grants to get shoppers interested in the area.

The Globe also brought us down, reminding us that toys could cause developmental delays in the children we love due to lead content. Several businesses are cashing in on parents’ fears by offering on-site lead testing and wooden blocks from Vermont.

Angela Litovchick is one shopper who has changed her mind about the bargains she used to find at dollar stores or mass merchants. . . . “I cannot afford to buy expensive USA made certified nontoxic toys and I do not want to buy cheap potentially toxic toys,” she said. “Previous years I was much quicker to just buy another small toy to make my kids happy. Now, I try to think what I can buy or do instead of toys and still keep them happy.”

What is the alternative gift the Litovchick children are getting? Cirque de Soleil tickets. Ugh, we’d risk brain damage from gnawing on a lead-tainted Dora the Explorer doll, thanks.

The paper brings back our holiday spirit with stories about two local musicians who wrote Christmas songs we’ve never heard before. We want to hear from the guy who wrote “Dominick the Donkey.” That’s our favorite novelty Christmas song since “Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer.” Unfortunately, Lou Monte is dead. Damn.
We cherish our time with the Sunday paper. We scamper down the stairs in our gross sweats, hoping nobody sees us and grab it in from the steps, then tear into it as we sip our coffee and eat breakfast. The Globe Spotlight team’s report on the prevalence of suicide in Massachusetts prisons got our Sunday off to a pretty miserable start.

Last year alone, seven inmates killed themselves, and another’s attempt left him brain dead; four have taken their lives so far this year. . . .

So common has it been to find a man with a makeshift noose around his neck that some correction officers have taken to carrying their own pocket tools to cut them down.

It was uncharacteristically salacious writing from the Globe, but it serves the piece well. Imagine our delight when we grabbed the Monday paper off our icy doorstep today and saw the second article in the series about a mentally retarded inmate who was neglected by the system. Seriously, guys, the icy rain is depressing enough.

Mayor Tom Menino continues to support the animal pens in Downtown Crossing, despite the outcry from some protesters. You know, after that story about prison suicides, we really don’t feel that bad for the chickens. At least they’re not in solitary while detoxing.

The ICA is a year old. The Globe didn’t get it any lead-laced toys, but instead ruminates on what the new facility means for the modern art scene in Boston. It’s conclusion? The ICA has dumbed down its exhibits, but is getting more people interested in modern art. We’ll call it a draw.

What does this quote reference?

“It was about 2000, 2001, when people started to go all-white,” he says. “Now it’s starting to swing back to colored.”

No, not race relations. The color of the holiday lights in Boston’s public spaces. Most people like the all-white look. We’d make some quip about how we still love the whites here, but that prison story bummed us out too much.