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Back Bay and Downtown Crossing are rebounding following a day of peaceful protests that devolved into vandalism and arrests

By Thomas Brennan

It is as if Boston’s Back Bay and Downtown Crossing lived through a week in just 24 hours when, earlier this week, the city saw a day of three peaceful marches to protest the death of a Minneapolis man while in police custody only to have the night end in vandalism and looting in Boston.

What followed, however, showed the city’s true spirit as residents, business owners, and other volunteers joined city crews to clean up from the protests and get ready as the second phase of the openings from the COVID-19 shutdowns takes place.

A day of peaceful protests in Boston was followed by a night of unrest in the Back Bay and Downtown Crossing. Thomas Brennan photo

The vandalism and chaos coming on the heels of the pandemic was a tough sequence for the business community to endure. “The thing is that most of the businesses on Newbury Street and Boylston Street really do support what the marchers and protesters were working for,” said a manager of the Back Bay boutique who asked not to be named in this article. “I don’t think one act of vandalism was caused by the marchers. That came later.”

It did.

The upheaval that started after Sunday’s initially well-organized and peaceful Black Lives Matter protests spread out to various areas of Downtown Crossing and the Back Bay after 9 p.m., not long after the 6:30 protest march had made its way from Roxbury to the State House on Beacon Hill.

Some businesses were boarded up before Sunday night’s vandalism and others were boarded up on Monday and Tuesday so that the stores could reopen. Photo by Thomas Brennan

Some businesses, including the Apple store on Boylston and some three dozen on Washington Avenue, had boarded up their locations prior to Sundays marches. When things opened up on Monday, it appeared that most of the damage had been vandalism such as smashed store windows and graffiti.

Crews, both volunteer and city of Boston employees, had picked up most of the garbage by mid-afternoon Monday, with a week of work scheduled from cleaning the monuments slated for Wednesday and Thursday and grass cutting on Thursday.

Crews were out throughout the weekend an into the first part of the week preparing for and cleaning up from the protest marches that turned violent. Photo by Thomas Brennan

By the end of the week, Governor Charlie Baker had sent members of the Massachusetts National Guard to the Back Bay, where they could be seen on Newbury and Boylston streets, to assist the city in keeping the peace while businesses worked for the second phase of the re-opening.

Even with the pandemic precautions, larges groups of people came out to assist and help out in the restoration of public areas. They were more than successful on various measures, and had accomplished a great deal of cleanup by Monday afternoon.

In regards to trash and litter, the common actually seemed more tidy than usual. The various taglines along the streets, sidewalks, buildings’ walls and windows were still present.

The cleanup from vandalism continued while crews also worked to get ready to reopen for the first wave of business. Photo by Tom Brennan

Some businesses turned the vandalism into a positive thing like the Back Bay real estate office that tapped an artist to paint a beautiful piece over some graffiti.  There are still positive signs of the revitalization of the city and strong signs of the city’s ongoing spirit for betterment.

The only real efforts on Monday to wash the graffiti were reserved for the painted inscriptions along the State House. Though most, such as ones along the bridge public gardens, were washed away by Tuesday. The city has put in a considerable effort to wipe away any vestige of the tags. It’s a large-scale endeavor, though Boston seems more than committed to see these painted words to be scrubbed away. Those they haven’t wiped out, they’ve seemingly covered to clean at a later date.

Windows are being boarded up at various ground level stores. Many were initially done to cover just the stores that were damaged or the graffiti tagged alongside the buildings. The CVS on Newbury experienced a large amount of graffiti and has boarded their windows. The cover precaution is being extended by various businesses and store widows that did and didn’t experience damage.

The CVS on Newbury Street was covered with graffiti and later boarded up. Photo by Tom Brennan

A fair share of affected businesses are still open, though open hours are far more limited now. The constant drone of helicopters and the arrival of military police has also added a contentious obstacle to the city’s and day-to-day functionality. The fact things are still running and adapting does provide some semblance of hope for businesses to still be reopening despite being boarded up or experiencing vandalism. Other businesses can follow suit. Although it might be a little less sunny with windows blocked out, there’s still the chance for citizens to return and support local businesses.

City crews and scores of volunteers worked hard to get Boston Common cleared of debris following Sunday night. Photo by Thomas Brennan

Various businesses were damaged, but broken glass can be cleaned up, paint can be washed away, wooden boards can be taken down. These are all things that are coverable or at the very least fixable within the long term. There are many deeper core issues to face within Boston before proper freedom and equality can be restored to every citizen who calls this city home.

City crews and volunteers helped get the Ugg store cleaned up after it had been looted on Sunday night. Photo by Thomas Brennan

Recently I had the opportunity to sit down in LA for a lively chat with the Massachusetts-based entrepreneur and level III Reiki Master Practitioner, Farah Andre. Reiki  healing has been practiced for decades on the West Coast but the East Coast has been slow to embrace it.

Farah is working to change that perception. A registered nurse with a Bachelors of Nursing degree from Labouré College, she is a believer and is in LA to talk to experts about the best ways to bring this practice to Boston. She touched on her background and shared some insights on her work encouraging people, especially from the black community, to adopt the benefits of Reiki to recognize and remedy core spiritual wounds which, when left untended to, affect their general wellness.

Check out our one on one interview with Farah Andre.

Reiki is a system of healing used for stress reduction and relaxation that also promotes healing on all levels; physical, mental, emotional and spiritual. The word Reiki is from a Japanese word meaning universal life force or energy.

According to Farah, Reiki is really about energy and meditation. It is an elevation cleansing of the body, mind, soul, cos, where everything is interconnected.

“It is about finding what your true life purpose is. It is about guiding you and letting go of things that no longer benefit you so you can prosper.”

She explains that Reiki is a stress reliever and excellent for achieving homeostasis for people suffering the effect of external stressors such as school, work or family. Many health issues like hypertension or high blood pressure, eczema, etc. are often a result of our body reacting to these external stressors.

Farah, who is part of the Black Nurses Rock New England, also talked about plans to partner with a number of NBA teams to see how Reiki can benefit the performance of basketball players in their game and practice sessions, especially for players who have suffered anxiety and panic attacks in the past.

Despite her accomplishments and list of achievements, Farah remains humble and grounded and a lot of fun to be with. She explains that she likes to keep it “quiet” even as she steadily climbs the ladder of success.

For now, Farah continues to support patients in healthcare settings while offering Reiki treatments through her woman and minority-owned business, Endless Konnections.

For more information on Reiki contact Farah at    


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Normcore, the idea of normal and hardcore fashion concepts colliding, has been floating around for a couple of seasons now but is still considered under the radar. If you haven’t heard of it, here’s what the NY Times has to say about this grungy yet light style.

1. A fashion movement, c. 2014, in which scruffy young urbanites swear off the tired street-style clichés of the last decade — skinny jeans, wallet chains, flannel shirts — in favor of a less-ironic (but still pretty ironic) embrace of bland, suburban anti-fashion attire. (See Jeans, mom. Sneakers, white.)

2. A sociocultural concept, c. 2013, having nothing to do with fashion, that concerns hipster types learning to get over themselves, sometimes even enough to enjoy mainstream pleasures like football along with the rest of the crowd.

3. An Internet meme that turned into a massive in-joke that the news media keeps falling for.

Christophe LamaireHugo Boss

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Opposites attract and, this year, hair-ology of the fashion world has pinned together polarized looks that have resulted in a passionate tango featuring low and sleek and messy and free. Said looks have intertwined through a few generations of hair styling but now, they’re hitting center stage (and runways) as a major role in fashion drama. Shall we dance?

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Fashion designers are taking the first steps towards making invisibility a reality…literally. “The Invisible Shoe,” created by Brazilian fashion designer Andreia Chaves…

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It’s not something you’ve never seen before, but there’s something new here that may tickle your fancy. Color and lines are two elements that have redefined the bomber and motorcycle jacket for spring 2013. From Paul Smith and Joseph Abuud to Balmain, designers in Paris for men’s fashion week presented their models strutting down the runway in delightfully colored, slim fitting jackets that were nothing less than stunning.

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I regretfully write this as I am thoroughly saddened that I have to. Something has crept into our society that could have tragic consequences. I am speaking of the unforgivable introduction of ‘meggings’ into street style or any style for that matter.

Never heard of that term? Break it down— Man. Leggings.

Meggings have been getting press recently because of celebs such as Justin Bieber, Lenny Kravitz, and Russell Brand have been spotted in these things. But I, and I would like to think the fashion industry, generally don’t really look to The Brand and The Biebs as trend inspiration. So we move on. Yes? No.

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With the weather getting so brisk, many of us would really like to leave home wrapped in our cozy comforters. Although wishful thoughts are always welcome, unfortunately, they don’t always come true. So, for the time being, a little super hero inspiration will suffice to combat winter chills. The on and off “cape” trend is very similar to when ponchos were the most day to day worn style. Women of all ages resort to this over the head cover up for not only a more classy and unique look but also to hide that sinful kangaroo pouch many of us suffer from with holiday pies come at us like super villans on a war path. There’s no better season than late fall for a cape to be paired with some skinnies and flats while on the go. Take advantage of this effortless look before the temperature says it’s too late.

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Less is more when it comes to fur intertwined with fashion, unless you’re Cruella de Vil or a nomad wandering Siberia – fur from head to toe just isn’t a good look, so read carefully fur lovers. A hint of fur can breathe life into a simple, monochromatic outfit adding a pop of color and texture  to your once plain Jane ensemble. The trick here is to know when an outfit is worthy of some fuzzy detail and what fur-accented piece works well with the rest of your look. I’ve seen so many fur-accented outfits that could look fabulous, that end up looking like a hot mess because of too much going on with the rest of the get up. Texture is key – since fur is highly texturized, its best to stick with materials that play down the idea of texture, for instance a fur vest with a silk blouse paired with cable-knit tights or dark skinnys and suede or cloth pumps. The fur vest is the shining star here, oozing with texture and UMPH while the silk blouse, cable-knit tights and skinnys shy away from the spotlight creating a perfect backdrop to display your fur. The same can be said with other accented fur clothing and accessories; for instance the Kenzo fall ’12 line (displayed above) mastered the idea – taking a peach colored jacket with a matte finish and adding an over-sized mink collar. Less is more people, and the proof is in the pudding – fur has never looked this good, sorry J.Lo time to put away those chinchilla jackets you got from P. Diddy.

Alice Kriemler-Schoch (The HBIC of what we know and love as Akris) has mastered the art of color blocking in for her fall ‘12 collection. Many know and associate color-blocking with the idea of highly contrasting colors in bold square like patterns (which in my opinion comes out rather heinous 90% of the time) – so why am I fussing over this trend I’m not a fan of? The Akris fall ’12 collection puts a spin on color-blocking I have yet to see – taking bold colors, with slightly darker or lighter shades of that same hue, and creating subtle yet fabulous color-blocking patterns.

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Gold and silver, like water and oil, aren’t meant to be mixed, or are they? We seem to have some type of love/hate relationship with these two metals. One minute silver is all the rave, and the following hour gold is. Why fight over which is better, I mean it’s not as if this is “Twilight”, there’s no Team Edward or Team Jacob, so why not just… love them both?

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Some trends have a way of falling out of style and then finding their way back into our hearts. Leather happens to be one of them, like a bad boyfriend we just can’t fully let them go. But it’s not just any old leather pants, they’re (drum roll please) none other than Jean Paul Gaultier leather leggings. I know what you’re thinking, Catwoman right? Well it may sound that way but don’t disapprove just yet.

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Black and white has always been fashion’s prized first born of iconic color palettes, consistently showered with praise and affection as a go-to look for men and women alike. Black and brown, on the other hand, is the unwanted stepchild in a family of picture perfect combinations that no one wants to even utter a whisper of its existence out of fear of committing a fashion faux pas.

But what most people forget is that some neglected stepchildren turn into Cinderella and this fall, Prince Charming of Textiles has arrived and rescued black and brown from the dungeon of everyday fashion rejects.

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