Thursday, January 08, 2009

Happy Birthday

Today the King would have been 74.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Fire, again..

Here's another, better article about the fire in my old neighborhood....

Boston 4-alarm fire destroys restaurants

By Jessica Fargen
Tuesday, January 6, 2009

One hundred Boston firefighters braved the freezing cold overnight to battle a fast-moving fire that caused $5 million in damage to six restaurants and a dry cleaning business near Fenway Park [map] and caused the evacuation of 130 people, according to the Boston Fire Department.

“It’s almost all the good restaurants in the neighborhood right here, all lined up. It’s just a shame, really,” said Peter Wick, 25, who lamented the loss of El Pelon, where his favorite menu item was the steak burrito. “It’s a little shocking. I hope they find out what happened.”

The fire broke out at 1:57 a.m. at Thornton’s Fenway Grill on Peterborough Street and quickly became a four-alarm inferno. Flames spread to Sorento’s Italian Gourmet, Umi Japanese Restaurant, Greek Isles, Rod-Dee Thai Cuisine II, El Pelon Taqueria and a dry cleaning business. The string of one-story businesses on the block from 84 to 98 Peterborough Street were completely, or nearly completely destroyed, MacDonald said.

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One hundred thirty people in 98 units, mostly elderly and disabled people, were evacuated from a five-story apartment building next door after heavy smoke filled the units, said Boston Fire spokesman Steve MacDonald. Residents were welcomed into the nearby William McKinley Preparatory High School, which was opened as a shelter.

Residents are only being allowed back inside their apartments to pick up medication and belongings because of concern over elevated levels of carbon monoxide inside, said John Hardiman, acting director of emergency management for the city. American Red Cross volunteers assisted residents this morning and a mobile shelter trailer will be arriving shortly, said Red Cross spokesman Patrick Baldwin.

People who rely on the eateries to make a living said they were just happy nobody was killed.

Tori MacMillon, 24, paused as she walked up Peterborough Street before 9 a.m. today and saw the charred shell of Thornton’s, where she started two weeks ago as a waitress. “As long as everybody’s OK. That’s all I’m worried about,” she said.

Added Jeff Zamiri, owner of Sorento’s: “Material things can be fixed. I’m just thankful nobody was hurt,” he said as he surveyed the damage.

The fire completely gutted Thornton’s, even burning away the sign, but Christmas garland could still be seen winded around a pillar in front. Holiday lights still hung from the awning at Umi and the bright blue Greek Isles sign was almost untouched. The inside of the restaurants appear to be a scorched mess.

Fire trucks remained on scene this morning and at one point firefighters doused the buildings with water after smoke started billowing from the roof.

MacDonald said 100 Boston firefighters battled the blaze, and two were injured when they slipped on ice.

MacDonald said the fire chief ordered firefighters to fight the blaze from the outside of the buildings once it was determined that no one was inside.

“The fire got up in the ceiling and traveled horizontally throughout the building, above the ceiling and below the roof,” MacDonald said, adding that roof air conditioning units were a hazard.

Part of Peterborough Street remained closed this morning.


I used to live about a 20 second walk from here and used to frequent these places quite often. I hope they are all able to re-build..
The article states that the fire was on Kilmarnock Street, but really It's Peterborough Street ...

Fire destroys 7 shops in Fenway
January 6, 2009

(George Rizer/Globe Staff)
By Andrew Ryan and John R. Ellement, Globe Staff, and Michele Richinick, Globe Correspondent

A four-alarm fire tore through a block of shops early this morning near Fenway Park, destroying six restaurants and a dry cleaner as it caused an estimated $5 million in damage.

Firefighters continued pouring water on the rubble seven hours after the blaze started just before 2 a.m. on Kilmarnock Street. It took more than 100 firefighters to battle the blaze, which also forced the evacuation of a block of brick apartment buildings that housed 130 people, some of whom were in wheelchairs.

No one was hurt in the blaze, but two firefighters slipped on ice while working to extinguish the flames, said Steve MacDonald, a spokesman for the Boston Fire Department.

"When firefighters arrived, they had heavy fire showing from the restaurant on the corner," Thornton's Fenway Grille, MacDonald said. "The fire spread, got in the ceiling, spread horizontal, and pretty much destroyed all seven stores."

All the businesses were closed when the fire started. When it was determined that no one was inside the block-long brick building, firefighters left the building because it appeared that the roof might give way. Crews continued fighting the flames from outside the building, dousing the fire with ladder pipes and tower units, MacDonald said.
Officials evacuated the apartment building because they detected high levels of carbon monoxide from the wafting smoke, MacDonald said. The residents were taken to William McKinley Preparatory High School on Peterborough Street, which also served as a shelter for firefighters seeking refuge from the 20-degree weather. The McKinley school was not damaged by the fire, but it will be closed today. All staff are required to report to the McKinley Middle School on St. Mary Street, according to the Boston Schools Department.

The restaurants destroyed by the blaze also included Greek Isles Restaurant, Rod-Dee Thai Cuisine II Fenway, El Pelon Taqueria, Umi Japanese Restaurant, Bon Cleaners, and Sorento's Italian Gourmet. The fire also inflicted minor damage on a two-story garage behind the row of shops, MacDonald said.

The cause of the fire is under investigation. Firefighters are expected to be on scene all day pouring water on hotspots.


Alfred Shaheen, garment industry pioneer, dies at 86

Shaheen revolutionized the garment industry in postwar Hawaii by designing, printing and producing aloha shirts and other ready-to-wear items under one roof.

By Claire Noland , January 4, 2009

Alfred Shaheen, a textile manufacturer who revolutionized the garment industry in postwar Hawaii by designing, printing and producing aloha shirts and other ready-to-wear items under one roof, has died. He was 86.

Shaheen died Dec. 22 of complications from diabetes in Torrance, where he had lived for the last five years, his daughter Camille Shaheen-Tunberg said.

After World War II, many servicemen and servicewomen returned to the United States from Asia and the Pacific islands with aloha shirts that had been made in Hawaii since the 1930s. Tourists began flocking to Hawaii in the 1950s as faster airplanes allowed for easier travel and the former U.S. territory became a state in 1959.

The tropical-print shirts for men and sundresses for women became standard and sometimes tacky souvenirs for travelers, but Shaheen raised the garments to the level of high fashion with artistic prints, high-grade materials and quality construction.

Even Elvis Presley wore a Shaheen-designed red aloha shirt featured on the album cover for the "Blue Hawaii" soundtrack in 1961.

Born into a family established in the textile business, Shaheen maintained high standards by controlling the process from start to finish at the factory he built in Honolulu.

He hired professional artists and silk-screened their designs on silk, rayon and cotton fabrics he imported to Hawaii. Then his seamstresses cut and pieced together garments that were sold at his own shops and other retail outlets in Hawaii or exported to the mainland and around the world.

"He was a genius," Dale Hope, art director for the Honolulu-based Kahala shirt maker and author of "The Aloha Shirt: Spirit of the Islands," told The Times. "He knew more about the inner workings of all of the elements of printing, the garment business and wholesaling and retailing and distribution. He was really a bright, sharp and smart man."

Linda Arthur, a professor of textiles and clothing at Washington State University who has written extensively about the Hawaiian fashion industry, said that "before Shaheen came along, there was no Hawaii garment industry. There were mom and pop stores but no real modern industry."

Shaheen was born Jan. 31, 1922, in New Jersey, where his father and grandfather owned textile mills and clothing stores. He moved to Compton with his family when his father decided to relocate. The elder Shaheen would travel to Guam to buy silk for the family's custom women's wear line, and after falling in love with Hawaii on stopovers, he moved the family again, this time to Honolulu in 1938.

Shaheen returned to California the next year to attend Whittier College, where he studied math and engineering and starred on the football team. After graduating in 1943, he joined the U.S. Army Air Forces and became a fighter pilot in Europe during World War II.

His cousin, another soldier, had been engaged to a woman named Amelia Ash in Olean, N.Y., but he died in the war. After the war, Shaheen wanted to meet the woman his cousin had told him about, so he went to meet her and wound up marrying her and bringing her back to Honolulu.

His parents operated a custom dress shop there, making bridal gowns and prom dresses from formal fabrics such as silks, chiffons and lace. But Shaheen wanted to branch out into ready-to-wear fashion.

He struck out on his own in 1948, opening Shaheen's of Honolulu with four seamstresses his mother had trained. In those days of relative isolation, clothing manufacturers in Hawaii had to store a year's worth of fabric to guard against the vagaries of shipping delays, strikes and other unforeseen factors. And they had to settle for whatever fabric the textile mill sent them.

Using equipment he built himself, Shaheen started a silk-screen printing plant in a rented Quonset hut in 1952. He put artists on salary to design patterns inspired by Polynesian and Asian cultures. Soon the company was printing more than 60,000 yards of fabric per month. Some of that fabric was used to make garments, and some was distributed in bolts to other businesses.

In 1956, to meet increasing demand, Shaheen expanded to a new, state-of-the-art factory that sprawled over 23,000 square feet. The company's focus remained on good design.

"I wanted a certain look that was different from everyone else's," Shaheen said in an interview for Hope's book. "I would not do hash prints or chop suey prints. I avoided bright or garish colors."

Most of the patterns featured three to five colors that laborers applied to silk screens by hand, saturating the fabric. Artists in the Shaheen studio had more than 1,000 dye colors to choose from, including innovative metallic shades, and they consulted rare books, libraries and museum collections. Sometimes Shaheen sent the designers on field trips to Tahiti and other exotic locales to soak up the culture for future work.

By 1959, according to company history, Shaheen employed 400 workers and grossed more than $4 million annually, dominating the local industry. The Hawaii garment industry overall had grown to roughly $15 million in sales from less than $1 million in 1947, according to the Honolulu Advertiser.

Shaheen sold men's shirts and shorts and women's dresses and sarongs in his own seven-store chain as well as to other retailers in the islands, on the mainland and across the world. Bullock's and the Broadway (both since closed) and other upscale department stores on the mainland carried the clothing, and some stores had special "East Meets West" boutiques dedicated to Shaheen's fashions.

Shaheen retired in 1988 and shut down the factory. He maintained homes in Honolulu and Los Angeles before relocating permanently to Torrance.

In addition to his daughter Camille, of Venice, he is survived by three other daughters, Susan Mulkern of Oahu, Cynthia Rose of Maui and Marianne Kishiyama of Culver City; a son, Alfred Shaheen II of La CaƱada Flintridge; five grandchildren; two great-grandchildren; and a sister, Joyce Bowman. His first marriage ended in divorce, as did a second.

Although the company is defunct, vintage Shaheen shirts can sell for $1,000 or more, said David Bailey of Bailey's Antiques and Aloha Shirts in Honolulu, a well-known emporium that stocks about 15,000 aloha shirts.

As Arthur, the textile professor explained, a Shaheen garment "is like a piece of moving art."

Saturday, January 03, 2009

Didn't even curl my hair!

I'm just going to say, if you get mildly electrocuted, your body doesn't actually shake at all. And also it hurts after, not really all that much during. The movies lie!

Mom, I am fine.

Here's to 2009... it's electrifying already!