Boston’s Own Zero Dark Thirty Shuts Down City

Again, this piece was originally published in the Huffington Post yesterday, Thursday April 25th. 


To be honest, I never thought they’d take him alive.

From roughly 6 a.m. on the morning of Friday, April 19, until almost 9 p.m. that evening, the ongoing story in Boston held me completely captivated. Late Thursday night into early the next morning the much needed breakthrough came in the all-out manhunt for the two brothers, Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, those allegedly responsible for the horrific bombings at last week’s Boston Marathon.

Waking up Friday morning I quickly caught up on what I’d missed throughout the night. Dave Portnoy’s (“El Pres” to his fans) recap on his popular Barstool Sports blog ran at 6:02 a.m. with the title, “If You Just Woke Up You Missed The Craziest Night In The History of Boston,” and provided a pretty accurate summation of those intense hours. Despite Barstool Sports’ raunchy reputation, Dave and his staff deserve credit for working tirelessly throughout the ordeal to provide objective, real-time reporting on the events by gathering intel from police radio frequencies and other sources. One such police radio broadcast has even become an Internet meme now. In the report, you can hear one officer mentioning to a superior, “Sir, just so you know, we’ve received reports that this channel is being broadcast on the internet,” followed by several warnings (that have taken on internet notoriety), “remember, we’re on an open channel, watch your mic.”

It wasn’t until Friday morning that I learned that the two suspects — heavily armed and possibly strapped with more explosives — had held up a 7/11 store in Kendall Square and eventually killed an MIT police officer. This deeply disturbing news hit close to home, as I’d often stopped by this 7/11 while working in Kendall Square during the past year. What’s more, I later learned that the two suspects were Cambridge residents who’d lived nearby my former apartment, the same one where my best friend still lives. Knowing that the FBI had found “explosives, synthetic powder and an unspecified number of pipe bombs” in this home really put into perspective that feeling of terror I and the rest of Boston felt when the government was forced to take unprecedented measures and shut down the entire city.

To call this situation in Boston “surreal” is almost an understatement: for those following intently via social media, traditional news, word of mouth, and especially via live police scanners, it was like watching a horror movie of which no one knew the ending and for which the consequences were dreadfully real. One anonymous blogger augmented his police radio webcast with a live message board where I and thousands of others shared the tension of Friday’s manhunt, listening to every detail unfold live. Several of us drew parallels between what was going on then and the recent film Zero Dark Thirty, referring to the Boston events as a sort of “Part 2” playing out right before our eyes.

My only respite from the coverage came during a job interview of all things. The person I met with, a middle-aged woman from Australia, and I spent the majority of our time discussing what unfolding events of that day Boston. What I remember most about our conversation was this woman’s honest and heartbreaking concern about having recently brought a child into the world, a world which has increasingly turned toward acts of violence as a means to express outrage or seemingly accomplish other agendas (still unclear in this case). Having emigrated from Australia to the United States as an adult, she’d never experienced in her childhood the horrendous acts of terror that have plagued us in the past decade and a half, not just in the United States but also throughout most of the rest of the world. With this woman’s own past experience being in such stark contrast to her and her child’s current reality, she understandably admitted an apprehension and hesitation about how to approach such events when her child becomes old enough to register them — and inevitably lives through something similar. Eventually our conversation turned to the question that was on everyone’s minds that day: “why” would two brothers resort to such violence against the innocent?

As the investigation now proceeds with the second brother, Dzhokhar, having been captured and taken into custody late Friday evening, the “why” remains at the forefront for nearly everyone, from the victims and their families affected by the bombings to the rest of the world tuning in from abroad. Though alive, Dzhokhar apparently suffered injuries severe enough to keep him in critical condition in Boston’s Beth Israel Hospital, ironically the same hospital where several bombing victims are still being treated. According to reports at the time of this writing, his wounds are so grave that he has not yet been able to speak (since this piece was originally written, he has apparently begun to answer some questions). Whether the responses he gives will ever satisfy our to need to know “why” this all happened remains to be seen. As similar incidents have shown in the past, no matter what we hear from Dzhokhar firsthand, we’ll never stop wondering if there were any signals that someone — a teacher, a relative, a friend — missed along the trail to the bombings. Was there any indication that these two young men, described by friends and family alike as “angels” and “kind,” could even be capable of carrying out such destruction? The brothers’ aunt has even started demanding evidence that her nephews are responsible for the bombings at all, despite their reported admission of it. Will the remaining brother appeal to religious conviction? To rampant racism directed at him during his schooling in the states? President Obama has repeatedly urged the American people not to jump to any conclusions or to make unsubstantiated claims of connections these two may or may not have had, but instead, to “relentlessly gather the facts.” His request came alongside a justification of the police’s controversial decision not to read Dzhokhar his Miranda rights upon his arrest.

However, even during such a short period of time, facts and rumors alike have poured in. Reporters on Friday and ever since have scrambled to fill in the missing pieces on these two. Will their YouTube channels, Twitter accounts and Facebook profiles help paint a picture of their motivations? Everyone remains on the edge of their seats waiting to know exactly what happened, what went wrong, and especially the “why” behind their acts. Unfortunately, only time can tell whether we will ever find the answers we so desperately seek.


Birthday Brunching at Q


On my second breakfast trip to Clement Street, my crew passed by Q Brunch, deciding that it was a little much for what they were looking for at the time (really just bagels and coffee). However, I looked over the menu and decided it was worth a visit.

Luckily on Sunday, my breakfast companion, who was in town to celebrate her birthday (a celebration she recounted as one of her best ever) was down to try it. Unlike some other birthday brunchers, who were downing Mimosa’s and Bloody Mary’s at 10am, we were past celebrating and onto recovering by that point.

After my less than stellar hash at Art’s, I was hesitant to try it at Q, but I wanted to give hash on the West Coast a second chance. I’m certainly glad that I did. Image

Rather than the hash that tasted more like extra salty and crispy potato strings the last time, what I was served instead contained a plentiful helping of large chunks of well-cooked corned beef. Also, the poached eggs were perfectly cooked (actually the first time my breakfast date had ever actually had poached eggs).

As usual, the breakfast potatoes weren’t really distinguishable from the hash; however, they mixed in nicely enough. Even though the hash wasn’t as crispy as I’ve come to enjoy, the meat was great and the potatoes were what I’ve gotten used to. Overall, I’d definitely give Q Brunch another go around. Image



                                                                                        My “friend” whom I met while hanging at my temporary home base coffee shop for writing and waiting, Velo Rouge Cafe, recommended that if I like movies, I should DEFINITELY check out the Kabuki Theater while in town. Image

This recommendation wasn’t a hard sell for me at all, particularly given the fact that I love movies and since I had already planned on seeing something on an afternoon when i didn’t have much else planned.

However, her main selling points, comfy seats and adult beverages didn’t hurt either. The seats were relatively comfortable, but I could understand more of their appeal when I noticed that the arm rest could be lifted and they could be converted into a love seat for two (a nice feature for a date I’d imagine). Also, I didn’t take advantage of the alcoholic offerings, as by the second to last day of my trip, I’d had about as much boozing as I could handle for the week. 

However, my overall experience was certainly great, particularly given the fact that I thoroughly enjoyed my film of choice, Zero Dark Thirty. 

A few nice added touches included conveniently located internal coffee shop and amusing asian movie posters in the restrooms. Image Speaking of the restrooms, my only slight complaint was that I had to wait for about 20 minutes outside the theater until they opened at 12:45pm (which seemed a little late to me) but the wait was certainly worse considering the fact that I really just needed to pee. 

It’s getting hard for me to keep track, but I imagine the prices were at least reasonable in comparison to theaters in most major cities, at about 9$ for a weekday matinee.






Welcome. About a year ago, I started my first blog (My Type of Place). I had always enjoyed writing and thought that starting a blog would motivate me to work on it more consistently. This idea worked for a time. It worked especially well when I attempted to use this blog to catapult myself into a new career and I even attempted to commercialize the idea inspiring my blog (you can read about it here). While the company never took off (it seemed to require a more sophisiticated search algorithm than I had initially anticipated; however, if there are any developers out there who find the idea interesting, and would like to collaborate on trying to get it off the ground, let me know as I now have some time on my hands and still think it is a really cool concept that could potentially have some success as a mobile app or website. Some people at American Express agree also, because they’ve tried to launch something somewhat similar- read about that here (Article)

Anyway, the reason I’ve come into some unexpected free time is that I was just laid off last week. This job, in a way, did stem from my interest in startups that grew out of the work I was doing on the blog about a year ago. However, while it was a really exciting and a tremendously valuable learning experience to enter a well-funded startup software company as employee number 12 and ride out the wave, seeing the company grow from sharing space in one of our VC backer’s offices, to nearly 40 employees, a dozen or so customers (half of which I sourced in the first year of business), and continuing to grow. Near the end, I had come to the decision that I didn’t want a future as a salesman, therefore making my role as an inside sales associate make much less sense.

In looking at it from some (though not much) distance, I’m understandably a little disappointed at being laid off (as who wouldn’t be), especially because I truly liked and respected most of the people I worked with there. However, at the moment, I think I’m most upset that now when I go to a certain burger place (which I happen to like quite a bit and is just around the corner from my apartment), I am of my first experience in getting laid off…

So how did this inspire me to start blogging again?

Well first, I now have some free time on my hands, at least in the interim, until I decide on the next step in my meandering early career and find the right position to move on to. Additionally, in my job search (probably a whole post to come on this later), I’ve focused initially on entry-level marketing positions. Not surprisingly, many of these positions either ask for links to my social media accounts, blogs, or other writing samples. If not, they at least ask for extended written responses in the initial applications.

In particular, when I applied to the Boston Startup School yesterday, and they asked for the link to any of my blogs, I couldn’t believe that the last entry to MTOP came on January 8th, 2012, just over a year ago.

The first idea for one of the topics of this blog came from one of the other questions in the application- “what are your goals for the coming week?” Immediately, I had one answer to the question, in that I had already decided to make an effort to get out and explore some new parts of Boston, starting with the North End. However, in thinking about my old blog, and my desire to get back into writing, I incorporated the idea that I would try to visit one new place/do something different each day and write a little something about it.

This task would give some structure to my return to writing (similar to how I pledged to write 5 pages a day in the first few months of taking a year off between my freshman and sophomore years of college, when I decided to write a screenplay and before my parents forced me to find a “real (read income-producing) job”). From there, I knew that I’d also been meaning to write about all of the movies I watch and have watched in the past. I certainly spend enough time doing this and have even started to do so a few times, but at least I keep coming back to it.