Boston Uncovered

ACS And Local Vendors Paint Harvard Square Pink Next Week

The American Cancer Society’s Making Strides Against Breast Cancer of Boston team will paint Harvard Square pink to raise awareness on June 21.

four women sitting on giant pink inflatable chair

Local vendors and the American Cancer Society join forces next week to paint Harvard Square pink. The annual awareness event will take place at the heart of Harvard Square in Brattle Park this year.

Find the traveling 8-foot-tall inflatable pink chair, yoga, live music, and pink-themed food and beverage from local vendors for purchase. Surrounding buildings will be lit pink, so the whole block will appear pink.

There will be 14 participating vendors in total! Cambridge Savings Bank will further the pink illusion with pink lights of its own, Playa Bowls will donate $1 of every pink bowl to Strides, and at Mint Julep, any purchase of $100 or more will receive a pink leather cosmetic pouch (in-store on June 21).

Join the Making Strides Against Breast Cancer of Boston team in raising funds and bringing awareness to Breast Cancer on June 21.

Brattle Plaza, Harvard Square

Friday, June 21 from 6-9 PM


Charlie’s Kitchen in Harvard Square gets new management

Its current owner told the Licensing Commission that new management doesn’t plan to change much about the Cambridge institution.

Charlie’s Kitchen in Harvard Square is getting new management, and potentially new owners that reportedly have plans to bring the Cambridge institution “into today’s time,” said current co-owner Paul Overgaag. 

The news broke at a License Commission meeting last Thursday, when Overgaag told the body that David Toraji Oshima and Derek Luangrath — both with industry experience at places like Cafe Sushi and who recently turned the former R.F. O’Sullivan & Son into The Cornerstone — would take over as operators with the board’s approval and eventually as owners. 

“After 28 years, the interest from the Overgaag brothers to run got less and less,” Overgaag said. “We couldn’t keep up with the new times and the new ways things are being done.”


Boston Calling 2024 review: The best and worst moments of the festival

A three-day recap of the best and worst of Boston Calling 2024, from the scintillating sets to the overwhelming Sunday crowds.

Chappell Roan performs at Boston Calling.
Chappell Roan performs at Boston Calling. Ben Stas for The Boston Globe

Leading up to Boston Calling 2024, which took over the Harvard Athletic Complex Memorial Day weekend, I was nagged by a persistent question: Who, exactly, is Boston Calling for in 2024?

The answer has undoubtedly evolved since the festival first dazzled audiences on a cold, rainy weekend at City Hall Plaza 11 years ago. That first edition, headlined by festival curator Aaron Dessner’s band The National, featured almost 100 percent bands that fell somewhere on the indie rock spectrum — a reflection of festival co-founders Brian Appel and Mike Snow’s origins at independent radio station WFNX and defunct alt-weekly the Boston Phoenix .

But times and tastes change, and Boston Calling has changed along with them. What was once indie becomes mainstream, what was mainstream becomes retro, and what didn’t exist until six months ago is the hottest thing on the planet.

Dessner, a force in the indie rock world, has worked extensively as a producer for Taylor Swift, the most popular pop star of this generation — and quite possibly any generation, if she keeps breaking records. And since moving to Harvard Athletic Complex in 2017, Boston Calling has grown in capacity and ambition, landing stadium-level talents like Metallica in 2022 and Swift collaborator Ed Sheeran this year.

Change can be a good thing. Stars revered by Gen Z and Gen Alpha like Reneé Rapp and Chappell Roan were some of the highlights of Boston Calling 2024, and Megan Thee Stallion delivered arguably the most high-powered rap set at the festival since Travis Scott in 2019.

That’s not to say the festival has abandoned its roots, either. Young The Giant, who played the very first Boston Calling, were back again this year. So too was Frank Turner, who played the May 2014 festival, and the Killers, who didn’t play Boston Calling until 2018, but would have easily fit in the rock-heavy early lineups.

The answer, then, to the question of who Boston Calling is for? It’s for everyone.

It has always been for high schoolers and college kids who go with 10 of their best friends to see their favorite artists. It’s also for twenty- and thirty-somethings who now make enough money to pay festival prices to see their favorite bands from high school or college for a weekend.

Most of all, it’s for music lovers of any age who possess an open mind and an adventurous spirit. I had only a vague awareness of Chappell Roan’s music heading into the weekend, but by the end of her set on Sunday, I was a convert. Similarly, one of my college-aged coworkers was unfamiliar with Trey Anastasio, but came away impressed by the Phish guitarist and his Classic Tab band’s jam-heavy Saturday night performance. 

In honor of my colleague Chad Finn, whose unconventional reviews are a must-read after every Patriots game, here’s my unconventional review of Boston Calling 2024.



Renee Rapp performs on the first day of Boston Calling.
“I Hate Boston” singer Renee Rapp performs on the first day of Boston Calling. – Erin Clark/Globe Staff

Who Friday was for: Ed Sheeran and Reneé Rapp fans.

For the first few hours on Friday, you could easily move around the festival grounds. Then came time for Reneé Rapp’s 5:55 set, and suddenly the crowd swelled, with young fans filling the Green Stage area to support the “Mean Girls” star.

Beyond typical festival fashion, the most common accessory was an Ed Sheeran merchandise. The English singer-songwriter has consistently filled Gillette Stadium, and the T-shirts from previous editions of the Math tours made it look like a physics conference.

Best Set: Reneé Rapp

Rapp made her apologies for the song “I Hate Boston” early and often. The Broadway singer turned pop star first clarified that the track was about a “trying time” she had in the city with some exes. When she got to the lyrics “As far as I’m concerned, they should just burn the whole city down,” she quickly added, “That’s not true anymore!” Not that her fans needed convincing, 

Local Act to Watch: The Wolff Sisters

The Wolff Sisters weren’t part of Saturday’s country-influenced lineup, but the Americana/roots rock trio from Hyde Park would have fit right in. Check out their latest single “Hurricane,” or their most popular song “Down by the Lake” for a taste.

Gratuitous Brand Activation of the Day: Dunkin’

For the second year in a row, Dunkin’s two-story lounge was the hit of the festival. Two separate lines – one for the ground floor, one for the balcony — were each longer than the queues for every other concession, as fans waited for free coffee, gift cards, temporary tattoos, and other Dunkin’ goodness.


Tyler Childers performs at Boston Calling on Saturday. – Erin Clark/Globe Staff

Who Saturday was for: Country fans and jam banders

Leading up to the festival’s first-ever country headliner, Tyler Childers, Saturday’s lineup had country or country-adjacent acts on every stage. 

Walking to the Blue Stage for a 5:50 set from The Red Clay Strays, there was a noticeable change in the crowd’s aesthetic from Friday. Fans in Luke Bryan T-shirts and American flag cowboy hats lined up for the ferris wheel. A couple in matching Bass Pro Shop tank tops edged toward the front of the stage. Two guys in Alabama Crimson Tide shirts spit chewing tobacco into (hopefully) empty Miller Lite cans. For a day, Boston Calling had gone country.

Not that Red Clay Strays frontman Brandon Coleman saw it that way: He considers the Mobile, Ala. group to be rock ‘n roll. (Perhaps he’s onto something, as the group will be opening for the Rolling Stones at Gillette Stadium later this week.)

The other distinct demo at Saturday’s shows were jam band fans, who gathered en masse for a set from Phish lead guitarist Trey Anastasio on the Red Stage. Grateful Dead tees, gray dreads, and barefoot dance circles made for a festive atmosphere.

Best Set: Khruangbin

On the Green Stage, Khruangbin played a mesmerizing, largely instrumental set of groovy tunes, with one track melding into another. The repeated chorus of “Time (You and I)” — “That’s life / If we had more time, we could live forever” — felt like a zen koan mantra, putting the the swaying crowd under the trio’s spell.

Local Act to Watch: Paper Lady

My favorite local discovery of the weekend was Paper Lady, a five-piece indie band formed in 2019 by a group of Berklee students. Singer Alli Raina showcased haunting, otherworldly vocals with a cover of Jefferson Airplane’s “White Rabbit” and on “Violet,” the powerful closing track on the band’s 2023 EP “Traveling Exploding Star.”

Gratuitous Brand Activation of the Day: Red Bull

In terms of paying respect to the festival’s Harvard confines, Red Bull deserves some kudos for reviving Out of Town News to hand out free energy drinks to the music-loving masses.


The Killers perform at Boston Calling 2024.
The Killers perform at Boston Calling 2024. – Chris Phelps

Who Sunday was for: Based on the crowd size, all 650,706 residents of the city of Boston.

I’ve been to every single Boston Calling, and I’ve never seen the festival more crowded than it was on Sunday, which was the only day that sold out. The number I heard from a few different festival sources was 40,000 people (compared to only 16,000 on Saturday), but it felt like even more than that.

Part of the reason the grounds felt so oppressively crowded was that almost all of those 40,000 people were already in place to see Chappell Roan on the Green Stage at 4:05 p.m. The festival has a history of putting up-and-coming acts in a midday slot, which is a cool way to let fans say they saw a future headliner “before they got big.” Noah Kahan, who is set to perform multiple sold-out dates at Fenway Park this summer, played at around the same time last year, for example.

But the consequence of Sunday’s schedule was almost no one left the area surrounding the Green and Red Stages for seven consecutive hours. There was a brief surge for concessions after Roan finished her set, but by the time Megan Thee Stallion walked onto the Green Stage at 6:25, many people were essentially stuck in place.

Logistics that worked seamlessly on Friday and Saturday were suddenly overrun. Staff began handing out $5 waters freely to the crowds, but the number of overheated concertgoers who needed medical assistance – which is something that happens at every outdoor music festival, to be clear – spiked.

Meanwhile, I swung by the Blue Stage on the opposite end of the grounds a few times, and despite great bands like Blondshell and Alvvays playing, there was never more than a few hundred people there.

The performances throughout Sunday were some of the best all weekend, but as comments on Boston Calling’s social media accounts (and on our Instagram as well) showed, the crowds were a problem.

On Tuesday, Boston Calling organizers issued a statement promising to continue working to “create a better environment for everyone.”

“We deeply appreciate the audience, staff, and performers who make Boston Calling possible, and want to acknowledge feedback from Sunday,” organizers posted on Instagram. “While attendee count was several thousand below the official capacity rating of the site, we never want anyone to feel uncomfortable or unsafe at the show.

“The safety and well-being of our fans, artists, guests and staff is paramount,” the statement continued. “We will to continue to work with public officials and our operations team to improve the experience, layout, and ultimately create a better environment for everyone.”

Gratuitous brand activation of the day: Liquid Death

In honor of all the free water they handed out on a day when it was sorely needed, it’s got to be Liquid Death, which had a macabre country club full of skulls, grim reapers, and a casket full of new flavored waters.

Local Act to Watch: Fleshwater

After being unable to negotiate the crowd to see the start of Hozier, I encountered the heaviest music of the weekend from Fleshwater, a hardcore band part of the broader nu-gaze movement.

Best Set: The Killers

You could argue the real answer is Chappell Roan (and you can read my colleague Heather Alterisio’s recap of her performance), but letting my extreme millennial bias show, I have to pick The Killers.

Brandon Flowers and co. are old pros at this point, having played the exact same stage in 2018 and currently touring on the back of a greatest hits album. Songs like “All These Things That I’ve Done,” “Jenny Was a Friend of Mine,” and “Somebody Told Me” had the crowd singing along to every word. 

Ever the showman, Flowers waited until the very end to deliver the band’s biggest hits, finishing with “When You Were Young,” then coming back for an encore of “Human” and “Mr. Brightside.”

The Crimson

Younger Siblings: Here’s Where in Harvard Square is Actually Cool

Yeah, your sibling is graduating from Harvard. Big whoop. They’re taking photos, hanging out with friends, hogging your parents… but what is there for you to do? Well, you’re in luck, because I have a Bostonian fifteen-year-old sister and have been secretly observing where she and the other Teens like to hang out in Harvard Square. Sneak away to one of these spots and luxuriate in your youthful coolness.

Gong Cha

This is arguably the best boba in the square, both for taste and coolness. Get “half sugar” if you really want to flex on the haters.

The Attic

Ok, this place is pretty expensive for a thrift store. But if you like thrifting, you can kill about forty-five minutes here. They have an extensive sweater collection if you’re shocked by how cold it is here, even in May.

Taiyaki NYC

The ice cream is both excellent …

The Crimson

Dear Parents: Here’s Where You Should Hang Out in Harvard Square

Hello Harvard parents and welcome to the thing your child reads in lecture instead of paying attention our quirky student life blog. Have you been abandoned by your child even though you came all the way to Cambridge to see them? Here’s some places you should visit in the Square while your soon-to-be college graduate is busy taking graduation photos or catching up with their freshmen year best friends.

Harvard Art Museums

Out of all the places on this list, this may be the one you can tell your kid about rather than the other way around. This museum is free to the public, very aesthetic for family pictures, and has five levels of exhibits to explore. I have no idea how many hours it might take you to go through all of this art, but it’s definitely a way to kill time and make your camera roll look more cultured. The cafe is definitely more popular among Harvard students, so be sure to grab a vanilla cardamom latte on your way out!

The River / The Quad

If your student lives at The River, go visit The Quad or vice versa.

The Charles River is beautiful in the summer and your student probably has sent you pictures they took standing on Weeks Bridge or on Memorial Drive. You may even be able to recreate pictures you have been sent by your kid, and show them you can take better photos than they can. You can make them jealous of the free time they gave you by choosing not to spend them with you.

And Elizabeth Warren lives near the Quad, so maybe you’ll see her taking a stroll around the Cambridge Commons. The area also has a myriad of restaurants, a Starbucks, and an ice cream place which are all much more peaceful than any location within Harvard Square. If you want a break from the city atmosphere of the Square, head to the Quad for a more suburban environment.

The Arts Fuse

Design Review: A Singular Art Nouveau Shopfront in Harvard Square

Made 100 years before the current marketing phrase went abuzz, 1304 Massachusetts Avenue is an enticing example of a true immersive retail experience.

Art Nouveau façade of 1304 Massachusetts Avenue, Harvard Square. Photo: Mark Favermann

Located across the street from Harvard Yard at 1304 Massachusetts Avenue in Harvard Square in Cambridge, Massachusetts is one  of the most distinctively Art Nouveau storefronts to be found anywhere in the United States. Its visually appealing character and personality are gloriously magnetic.

For sophisticated consumers in the post-Covid-19 world, online shopping has become a habit. In response, retailers and designers have increasingly taken to transforming retail environments; they are no longer mere product displays, but spaces that creatively tell stories, even offer experiences that might become powerful memories. The 1304 Massachusetts Avenue storefront was ahead of this beautifying game well over a century ago.

To be fair, Harvard Square in the City of Cambridge has fostered a charming commercial showplace via a wonderful array of colorful storefronts and quirky projecting signs. The scale and qualitative visual mixture of what’s been done is impressive. Still, the storefront, now in the hands of the Felix Shoe Repair, stands out.

Art Nouveau is characterized by its use of a long and sinuous organic line. Its visual “flow” was meant to correspond to musical movement. A self-conscious attempt to create a “modern” look — free of the imitative historicism that had dominated much of 19th-century art and design — the style was most often used in architecture, interior design, jewelry, glass objects, and illustration. The emphasis on refinement was a cultural reaction to the excesses of the industrial revolution’s twin accomplishments — technological triumphs and deplorable social conditions. In England, influential social critic and artist/designer William Morris was a vocal proponent of Art Nouveau. He and his followers viewed aesthetic and social problems as inseparable, insisting that artists should create work that was both beautiful and practical.

As a design motif, the style peaked around 1890, falling out of favor at the beginning of World War I in 1914. Countries interpreted Art Nouveau in divergent ways — the flowery French style became the most universally prevalent. Much later, the latter influenced what became Psychedelic Art in the ’60s and early ’70s. Though Art Nouveau buildings are now rare in the United States, numerous examples of buildings, houses, and apartments still stand in Paris, Brussels, Prague, Glasgow, Turin, and Riga.

The Crimson

Clover to Keep All Cambridge Locations Open After Surviving Bankruptcy

All of Clover Food Lab’s locations will stay open following a corporate restructuring after the company declared bankruptcy in November, Clover CEO Julia Wrin Piper said Friday.

The locally sourced vegetarian fast food chain, which has multiple Cambridge locations — including one on Massachusetts Avenue in Harvard Square and another inside Harvard’s Science Center — struggled to adapt to the post-Covid-19 environment and the shift toward remote or part-remote work, Piper said in an interview with The Crimson.

In its November filing, the company also cited a drop in investment funding just as they were attempting to expand, which left them spread thin.

Piper said the company took advantage of Subchapter V, a relatively new addition to federal bankruptcy law, which offers businesses with lighter debt such as Clover more license to negotiate restructuring with their creditors.

Piper took over as CEO of the company last fall, replacing Ayr Muir, an MIT and Harvard Business School alum who founded the business as a food truck 16 years ago.

After going through the bankruptcy process, the chain emerged with 13 of its 15 former locations still running. “That’s almost unheard of — most businesses have to substantially scale down” when they declare bankruptcy, Piper said, listing amenable landlords and financial transparency as factors in their stability.

Boston Restaurants

Luxor Cafe Plans to Replace Roust in Cambridge’s Harvard Square

A new coffee shop may be replacing a cafe in Cambridge, and the space had previously been the flagship location of a local group of sandwich/coffee shops.

According to an article in Cambridge Day, Luxor Cafe is looking to open in Harvard Square, taking over the space on Mt Auburn Street that has been home to Roust, and which had previously been home to a location of Darwin’s. The post mentions that Abdelrahman Hassan–who would run the new spot–wishes to have a concept similar to Roust though with additions to the menu and expanded hours, while also telling the licensing commission that “I’m trying to kind of return back to what Darwin was….The way it is right now, it’s a smaller operation. [Valentin Terteliu Hefco] has done amazing at Roust. I’m just trying to extend it out a little bit.”

Roust first opened in early 2023, a short time after all four locations of Darwin’s in Cambridge closed.

The address for the proposed Luxor Cafe (and Roust) is 148 Mt Auburn Street, Cambridge, MA, 02138.


Mark Zuckerberg’s 40th birthday party included a replica of his favorite Cambridge pizzeria

Mark Zuckerberg and his family at his 40th birthday party, which included a replica of Pinocchio's Pizza in Harvard Square.

Mark Zuckerberg and his family at his 40th birthday party, which included a replica of Pinocchio’s Pizza in Harvard Square.© Mark Zuckerberg/Instagram

Mark Zuckerberg took a trip down memory lane for his 40th birthday, thanks to his wife, Priscilla Chan.

In a post to Instagram, Zuckerberg showed how Chan surprised the Facebook founder with replicas of “places I lived in the early days” for his 40th birthday bash.

Along with sharing photos of his faux childhood bedroom (“where I learned to code”) and his Harvard dorm room (“where I launched Facebook”), Zuckerberg’s party also had an impressively realistic-looking replica of Pinocchio’s Pizza in Harvard Square, where Zuckerberg said he “basically lived in college.”

The Boston Globe

Union dispute bubbles up at Harvard Book Store

The labor dispute comes just two months after management canceled the planned second location in the Prudential Center.

Unionized staff at the Harvard Book Store have filed an unfair labor charge against the owners of the Cambridge institutionand launched a public campaign for higher pay, just two months after the business scrapped plans for a second location in the Prudential Center.

It’s the latest in a growing wave of union activism at colleges, coffee shops, and other small businesses around Greater Boston as workers push for higher pay and protections after the pandemic.

The roughly 30 workers at the store — which sits across the street from Harvard’s brick-walled Yard, but is not affiliated with the university — allege that management, and Book Store owner John Henry, have refused to bargain with them in good faith and disclose financial information about spending on the store’s abandoned Back Bay expansion. (Henry also owns The Boston Globe.)

In an e-mail to the Globe, part-owner Jeff Mayersohn disputes those claims, saying the workers are paid well above industry standards — indeed nearly all the store’s gross profits are spent on pay — and that the company has shared all documents it has with the union. The scuttled Back Bay store, he said, was being funded separately and had no impact on worker pay.

The National Labor Relations Board has not yet assessed the complaint, which a fairly common tactic used by unions in labor disputes.

Three Book Store employees told the Globe that management in recent bargaining sessions declined to institute raises for union workers — all of whom make below $20 an hour — beyond annual cost-of-living raises in their contract. They requested a $22.50 hourly wage floor, and were denied. (Minimum wage in Massachusetts is $15 an hour.)

“We have asked how HBS could afford two years of rent on an empty 29,000 square foot retail space, but cannot afford to pay us a living wage,” the Harvard Book Store Union wrote in an ongoing petition. “We are still waiting for answers. We are still waiting for a living wage.”

In an e-mail Thursday, Mayersohn added that the Book Store is suffering “operating losses” as-is, which are “entirely subsidized by ownership.” Workers negotiated a new contract in 2022 which included annual 50-cent-per-hour raises, and currently earn “50 percent more than the industry benchmark (as a percentage of store revenue).”

“Most other bookstores would be forced to close their doors at this point,” he wrote, noting that the store already shared available financial information with the union.

The Pru location, Mayersohn wrote, was an effort to balance the books, to leverage the business’ existing infrastructure to bring in more sales and reduce losses. He and Henry said in February that they were not opening the Prudential location because of “considerable” economic challenges after the pandemic.

“It was an attempt to make the business sustainable,” he wrote. “Once we realized that this particular project was not going to accomplish this goal, we canceled it.”

Henry first bought into the Harvard Book Store in December 2021. His arrival was soon followed by the living wage campaign, the Book Store union’s first public effort since it launched and affiliated with the United Auto Workers in 1993.

Rachel Schneck, an 11-year employee at the Book Store, saidshe and many other workers there believed the Prudential location would usher in higher wages and improved conditions for employees — the fulfillment of the Henrys’ promise to support and invest in the Book Store after several financially challenging years.

They said that they began hiring for jobs, expanding web services, and planning the design of the upcoming Pru storefront for over a year, while maintaining operations at the Massachusetts Avenue location. In the meantime, the size of the staff shrunk considerably and wages increased only slightly.

“The Book Store is a cultural center, an icon of Boston and Cambridge,” Schneck said. “The people who run it want to stay and build their careers, and the store suffers when we can’t maintain that level of staffing and expertise.”