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Elvis Costello silently rocks downtown Haverhill

December 21st, 2010 by

Just in case you’ve ever wondered if any of the random assortment of junk in the windows of Haverhill TV and Appliance actually works, I captured this oddly hypnotic moment back in October, courtesy of their forever-for-sale console TV:

See? Works great! $79.95 worth of great, though? I’m not so sure. Somehow, I feel like that price is like 1980’s dollars converted to today’s dollars.

MIRTH WATCH 2010! Downtown Haverhill edition

December 20th, 2010 by

I was doing my routine skim of the Eagle Tribune about a week ago when I came across a real bummer of a comment on the latest installment of My Haverhill.

“I visited from FL last week. Where are the lights on downtown buildings? Where are the lights across Merrimack Street? How about on the fire station down by the river. Where’s the pride? Haverhill looks like a sad, washed up and run down city.”

As much as it stung, I agreed with the sentiment. At the time, the last time I had hung out downtown was during the Christmas Stroll, and the experience was definitely a mixed bag. On the one hand, I’d never seen so many people strolling around downtown at night before, which was pretty exciting! On the other hand, while there were quite a few activities planned and plenty of people trying to get into the spirit,  the streets were dimly lit and only a handful of storefronts (mainly just those participating in the event) were decorated for the season. The lamp posts were bare. Several groups of children approached us selling candy, but it was too dark to tell who or what the fundraiser was for. I went home feeling kind of sorry for Haverhill, and wondering what could be done to bring a little more holiday cheer to downtown.

I guess the Christmas Stroll was just a bit ahead of the holiday mirth curve, because since then I’ve noticed a surge in festive downtown window displays. In fact, tonight I took a jaunt through the snowy streets and what to my wondering eyes should appear? Christmas has arrived in Haverhill! Let’s take a look:

Trio of white trees at Art and Angles

Beautiful window boxes and tree at The Inside View

Tinsel tree at The Clip Joint

Jennie's Inc.

It should come as no surprise that my favorite windows of all belong to Jennie’s Inc. The whole storefront is packed with Christmas cheer, including lighted wreaths, trees, plastic Santas and one festive doe taxidermy- all ready for you to bring home for low, low prices. In fact, if you REALLY want to know what I want for Christmas…

Oh, yes please.

I’d be happy with either the reindeer head OR the accordion. I’m not picky!

I really hope that next year we can get our acts together and have the downtown fully spiffed by the Christmas Stroll. As that anonymous commenter proves, you never know who’s going to be passing through and we should always be sure our downtown is sending the right message* to visitors and potential future residents. And these downtown shopkeepers show us that together it only takes a bit of something special in each window to make a big impact overall.

*the message is “we’re awesome.”

Bradford Depot late night espionage

December 18th, 2010 by

Last night, passing through downtown on our way to check out Busy Arms at Kelley’s Pub, we noticed a freight train rolling over Washington hauling some unusual cargo. We were pretty excited to see such a shipment pass through town, so after watching it lope across the Merrimack from the Comeau Bridge, we caught up with it at the Bradford Depot where I managed to snap a few photos.

Hmmm...what could it be?

As it quietly chugged along in the dark a handful of staff emerged from Bradford Skateland, not only curious as to what all this stuff was, but why there was  some strange chick running up and down the platform trying to document it.

Figured it out yet?

In fact, one of the staffers flagged us down and with a stern face straight up asked if it was some sort of crazy top-secret rocketry and if I was engaged in espionage. (Geez- first UFOs and now secret agents?) Highly flattered, I confessed that I was actually not a spy, but a lover of alternative energy and we had spent the last fifteen minutes ogling a wind turbine.

Why don't we slap a couple of these up by the solar farm?

Meanwhile off it went creaking and clanking into the night, ready to bring clean energy to some lucky town down the line…

UFO sighting in Haverhill?

December 14th, 2010 by

Friend of the Feeve Bob Simonds passed on this hot tip via Twitter last week. Apparently word of Haverhill’s trendy restaurant district and reasonable home prices have spread to the outer reaches of the cosmos!

Of course there was no ACTUAL photo, so I Photoshopped this one.

On December 9th, an anonymous Haverhillian spotted a cluster of eerie lights hanging out  in the night sky for nearly an hour over the Shoe City, and posted all the details on UFO Clearinghouse. The stargazer had just stepped out for  his/her customary after dinner smoke and…

When I looked up, I noticed three blue/green lights almost in a vertical line. The middle light was slightly off to the right, creating a very thin triangle. They were oscillating as if to be twinkling stars. As I said, I know the normal stars I see every night, and these were not them. I also noticed three similar lights in a more pronounced triangle approximately 20-30 degrees to the left. They behaved the exact same way. They were not moving and did not appear to get closer or further away. I stood outside and watched them for about an hour before all 6 lights disappeared at the exact same time. They did not fade out or zoom off out of sight. They simply disappeared. As I said, I look to the sky every night to see if anything abnormal is there. This is the first time I have ever seen anything out of the ordinary. I’m very creeped out right now. To add to that, my TV signal just went out. Coincidence? Probably. Creepy given what I just saw? Absolutely.

So, what do you think? (other than the part about the television going out. Clearly that’s just Comcast as usual- doye!) Are you convinced “they’re out there,” or left wondering what was REALLY in that cigarette?

Personally, as much as I’d like to believe that aliens would make Haverhill their first stop, I’m skeptical. I have a hard enough time getting my earthling friends to come all the way out to the Merrimack Valley to visit me!

Busy Arms: Come for the music, stay for the moustaches

December 13th, 2010 by

I know, I know, I’ve been a terrible blogger. Sometimes life just gets in the way. But I’ve been promising myself I’d come back to the Feeve… In fact, just the other night I was driving through Ward Hill, when I made a wish on the North Star of Haverhill, twinkling  high atop the incinerator stack: “Bring me something really good to get me back in the blogging spirit!”

Meanwhile, on the other side of the river, Tom from the Haverhill band Busy Arms was minding his own business when a Haverhill Fever bumper sticker fluttered into his lap, and BAM! here we are again.

Busy Arms are two guys- Tom on guitar and vocals and Brad on drums- and after one half of the outfit got hit in the junk with that serendipitous sticker, they contacted me with a couple of tracks and some news about their upcoming show at Kelley’s on Friday, December 17th.

In  trying to sort out how to describe their sound the phrase “music made by boys with old-timey moustaches” sprung to mind, and believe me, being of the mopey indie rock persuasion this is just the sort of thing that turns my crank. The tracks they have up on ReverbNation are upbeat and quirky- distinct enough to be recognized as their own, but varied enough to hold interest, with the added bonus of appealing to a broad range of music-lovers- from folksy to gypsy.

I’m pretty psyched  to know a band like this exists in Haverhill, and even more thrilled that they found me just in time to sit down and answer a few questions before their gig. Enjoy!

Busy Arms practicing their interpretive mime skits.

HF: What is the story behind the band name “Busy Arms?”

BA: That information is classified, but we like to leave any interpretation of our name up to the listener, much like our actual music.

HF:  How did you guys come together?

BA: We have been friends for quite a few years. We were both orphans raised in the same catholic boarding house in the Czech Republic, and we were adopted by a pack of traveling gypsy wolves. It turned out that they were protestant cannibals so we had to flee. The only skills we had at that point were playing music and performing interpretive “tinman” mime skits, so we took the less dangerous route and decided to go to culinary school in America. That’s where we learned that we were better off just playing music. So we learned to play the drums and the guitar and we started recording our own records out of the kitchen. We’ve been delivering our savory delicatessen to basements and bar scenes all around New England ever since.

I appreciate the suspenders.

HF: You seem to have a pretty unique sound. How would you describe it?

BA: We really strive to make intricate and original music that incorporates chord changes and odd rhythms that you don’t normally hear in popular music. At the same time we try to make it approachable to the average person. It’s hard to pinpoint the kind of sound that we have, so we always ask people to listen and decide for themselves.

HF:  Who are some of your musical influences?

BA: We listen to so much music, but the things that influence us the most are musicians/bands that have gone out of their way to be different and create a new artistic expression through their music that has been relatively untapped at that point. Artists also change album to album, and some albums that have really inspired us are “Smile” by the Beach Boys, “Their Satanic Majesty’s Request” by the Rolling Stones, “Sung Tongs” & “Feels” by Animal Collective, “In the Aeroplane Over the Sea” by Neutral Milk Hotel, and “Bows & Arrows” by the Walkmen.

Getting Busy up in Newburyport

HF: Describe the music scene in Haverhill. Who else is out there that you like?

BA: Honestly, the scene has been stagnant for quite some time. We think Haverhill needs an artistic revival, and not just musically. Fortunately there are some really amazing musicians around here and there are some good acts just starting to pop up. We have been in the process of setting up multiple musical shows/art gallery showings in the coming months, and we’ve been assembling some top notch musicians from all around the area. Four Legged Faithful are a really good old-timey bluegrass band, we’re looking forward to playing with them on Dec 17th!

HF: Any thoughts on/hopes and dreams for Haverhill?

BA: Well like we said, we really want to see an expansion of artistic expression in the storefronts and on the streets of Haverhill. Haverhill isn’t the most aesthetically pleasing city, but it has potential and we want to help it out in any way we can. It’s our hometown so it will always hold a special little place for us.

Can't they just use all those arms for hugging?

HF: Okay- who would win in a fight – Goro from Mortal Kombat or Dr. Octopus? (get it…they have a lot of arms)

BA: We debated about this for a long time, and consulted many outside sources, and we’ve come up with the conclusion that it would probably be a draw. Doc Oc’s got the reach, but Goro has got huge muscles.

HF: What’s your favorite venue, in Haverhill or beyond?

BA: TT the Bear’s in cambridge is one of our favorite places to play. It’s like the best kept secret of the Middle East that is a lot more intimate and accommodating to local acts like us.

HF: Idle Arms are the Devil’s playthings – what do you do to keep yourselves…um, Busy?

BA: We play music. Lots and lots of music. Brad has a recording studio out of Haverhill, and Tom designs print and web work for artists and bands.

HF: Thanks for taking the time to chat. Hey, before you go…plans for the future- upcoming gigs? Albums?

BA: We’re playing in Haverhill (Bradford technically) on Dec 17th at Kelley’s Pub with a bunch of our friends for the “Support Local Folk” event. it’s a night of folk, country, and rock music and it’s going to be tons of fun. We have other shows around the area which you can check out at busyarms.com. We are also working on a new EP to follow up our May 2010 full length release, and you can get a free copy of some new music at any of our shows.


So there you have it, folks! Kelley’s Pub: December 17. If you want to catch a bit of their quirky gypsy old-timey folksy charm before then, head on over to the Busy Arms pages on Facebook and ReverbNation.

How Cosmic Got Her Falafel Back

August 23rd, 2010 by

Sure, sure, Haverhill’s been experiencing a few setbacks on the ol’ cool-ometer lately. But, all along I’ve clung to what shimmering bits of hope for this city’s future as a kick-ass place to live that I can- a chief one among them being the availability of a totally decent falafel. Naturally then, when Chris reported earlier this month that J.J.’s Kabob and Pizzaria had closed, I was pretty crushed.

Luckily, fate was quick to intervene and a couple weekends ago, between an epic business trip to California and a much-needed vacation sans Internet, I took note of something peculiar going on down Salem St.

Bradford Country Store: 558 Salem St.

Not only was the Bradford Country Store covered in signs proclaiming it under new management, but, um, well, it was night time (as in nearly after dark!) and the Bradford Country Store actually appeared to be OPEN.

This realization barely had a moment to crystallize in my mind when my husband casually mumbled “oh yeah, that place is open again,” and just like that Sunny D commercial from the 80’s, he rambled off a list of completely unappealing offerings before saying the most magical words I have heard come out of his mouth since “I do.”

“And, uhhhh, they’ve got falafel.”

I had to see for myself…immediately. My fellow Haverhillians, yea verily, I have been to the Bradford Country Store and I have tasted the falafel, and it is good!


A finer falafel I can’t imagine. Unlike J.J.’s, the Bradford Country Store offers up deep fried chick pea patties with no annoying crunchy bits inside! And the wrap had just the right amount of tahini sauce and plenty of fresh salad crammed inside. Heavenly!

I also took a sample bite of their kibbe and it was also pretty awesome, too. Now I can’t wait to try out their shawarma and fattoush. Their more conventional sandwiches sound great, too. “The Bradford” is roast beef piled high and topped with BBQ sauce, and while I’m not into the ingredients, it’s oddly satisfying to know there’s a sandwich named after my street.

bRADford has officially obtained a trifecta of good eats: Village Square, Bradford Country Store, and Evenfall could easily round out a gut-busting day of self-indulgent gorging, no trip across the bridge required!

R.I.P. Ice Cream

August 20th, 2010 by

It’s a very sad summer for the Shoe City.

First, Margot’s Gallery closes up – then J.J.’s (with their creamy, creamy hummus) – and now downtown mainstay England’s Microcreamery is shutting its doors after ten years.

Posted on the door

This one is probably the saddest of all! England’s is something other than a bar, salon, discount store, or barbershop in the downtown area.

Luckily, I grabbed a pint of their delicious apple ice cream the other day – but hurry down because flavors are moving fast!

The Farmers’ Market

August 10th, 2010 by

A couple weeks ago, the lady and I ventured out into the devastating summer heat to check out the second week of the Haverhill Farmers’ Market.

As you’ll remember, I’m a big fan of fresh, non-diseased vegetables and I was not let down by the market.

Main St. and Bailey Blvd.

These were very, very tasty onions.

Real good in veggie tacos, fyi

I was a little underwhelmed by the amount of tents, but the quality of the food from vendors such as Wally’s definitely met expectations. I highly recommend checking out the market while there is still a good amount of summer left.

The ubiquitous summer corn on the cob

Check out the official website to get the low-down on the upcoming musical acts and other festivities.

I prayed for delicious - and it worked!

Sweet Sweet Thing’s Baadasssss Storefront

August 9th, 2010 by

Certainly, some of you have noticed this delightful new storefront adjacent to The Tap downtown.

Washington Street

No word on when the grand opening date will be yet – but progress is definitely coming along nicely.

I like cake.

R.I.P. Falafel

August 8th, 2010 by

The past few weeks, the wife and I have tried to order a couple of falafel wraps but have been unable to get through to JJ’s Kabob and Pizzeria.

Well, it turns out that there might be a very good reason for that.

River Street

Apparently, JJ’s Kabob has gone out of business.

I feel as empty as this cooler

What a shame!

JJ’s was a little different than the other pizza joints in town with their delicious hummus, falafel, and german fries.

Where else can I find some falafel in the area?