Our neighborhood is beginning its annual, seasonal, new year morphing, with a handful of businesses closing and a slate of new businesses opening. The keyword in 2013 appears to be pizza, with three new pizza joints either already open (Birroteca) or scheduled to open (Arthouse and Paulie Gee's Hampden).

I'll let the dust settle before highlighting a lot of what's going on and instead I'll begin this column with a parable, or, more accurately, an anecdotal warning. 

It was a typical Friday morning when I gathered up my emptied recycling bins, brought them inside, put them back in their usual locations and got about the business of my day. But as the day progressed, every so often I'd catch of whiff of something unpleasant.

I inspected my shoes. All clear. I'd eye those around me suspiciously and I'd try to sneak a sniff when they weren't paying attention, and they all checked out. 


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Finally, and I'm not sure why I did it, I checked the bottom of my recycling container, and there it was. My desire to participate in a civic good (recycling), as a result of what I'm hoping was a public worker's indifference (and not intentional), collided with a fellow Hampdenite's rude and lazy dog ownership skills and left me with a bin and a floor smeared in dog doo.

The moral to the story? Always check your recycling bin before bringing it back inside. 

Here are a few events that are sure to be as fun as they are nice-smelling.

On Sunday, Jan. 20, Sarah Jane Miller hosts the Town Square Open Mic at Minás Gallery and Boutique, 815 W. 36th St. The event with poetry, stand-up comedy, acoustic music, mime, magic and puppetry, starts at 4 p.m. and is free.

Also on Jan. 20, Joe Mulhollen and the Problematical Animals, Conversations With The Enemies, and Us And Only Us play the Golden West Cafe, 1105 W. 36th St., starting at 10 p.m.

Then, on Tuesday, Jan. 22, The Scotch Bonnets, The Forthrights and Thee Lexington Arrows play the Golden West at 10 p.m.

The Wine Source, 3601 Elm Ave., has a couple of tastings lined up for you to get your wine on. On Friday, Jan. 25 from 5-7 p.m., Rick Moshin of Moshin Vineyards in California will be presenting his wine. Moshin Vineyard uses sustainable farming, its philosophy is "minimally invasive", and it uses solar energy and gravity flow.

Then, on Saturday, Jan. 26, Kenny Likitprakong will be presenting his wine from Film Machine and Ghost Wines in California and discussing his hobo/poet aesthetic.