Monkey and I spent the past weekend visiting our friends from the Long Haul Project in Boston. I was not only looking forward to spending time with our “new” friends but never having been to Boston made me look forward to the impending travel even more. The fact that our excursion would occur over the July 4th weekend made it even more exciting. After all, Boston (and its environs) is the epicenter of the Revolutionary War.
Now, some of you that are close to me, and even those of you who are not particularly close to me, but just happen to be around when I am in a sufficiently grumpy mood, might be a bit confused here, thinking, “Boston? I thought ATR hated Boston.” No. You misunderstand me. Let me clear that up. I do hate Boston…the band. I do not hate Boston, the city.
And, of course, now those of you not familiar with my hatred of Boston are curious to know why I hate said band (again: NOT the city). Well, it’s more than a feeling, I will tell you that. It’s a difficult loathing to describe, or even justify, but there is something about the style that they managed to carefully develop and hew to forever that just doesn’t sit well with me. Their sound is so clean, so clear, so “wah-wah without the wah,” if you will. It just always seemed so produced. And the pitch of the late Brad Delp’s voice was like Cartman’s “brown noise”—it just does bad things to me inside.
However, I stress, once again, that the city of Boston, despite its very, very close ties to the band Boston, is the object of no animosity on my part. Now that we have cleared that up, let’s move on.
There are many things that I expected to see in Boston, the famous Liberty Bell, the Washington Monument, a host of Celtics jerseys. Strangely enough, beside the jerseys, none of that other “patriotic” stuff was there. Our hosts calmly explained to me that those things are located in other cities, I think one of them was Atlanta, I don’t remember, but I still enjoyed some of the patriotic sites that we did see, like a bronze sculpture of ducks (which was being sorely abused by an army of three year-olds) and a veritable host of soldiers in His Majesty’s Dragoons, or something. I was confused; really, I thought we won the war. Apparently, nobody in Boston was told. Does that make Tom Scholz and Brad Delp the founders of a British band? Do they have more in common with The Who and Pink Floyd than .38 Special (WARNING: link plays "music") and Toto? But, I digress.
What I loved about our trip, aside from the company (both the expected and unexpected kind), was that we enjoyed such a range of experiences. We went to some lovely restaurants, where Monkey and I enjoyed plenty of (but not exclusively) seafood. We miss our seafood out here in the middle of the giant North American continent. We sometimes brave a fish dinner, but not often. It just isn’t the same as having it on the coast. For instance, at our first dinner, at a groovy South End place called the Beehive (where I had my recent smooth jazz experience corrected by the trio that played while we ate), I had a scallop dish that was so fresh and tasty that I nearly cried. It was so nice to have that kind of dining experience.
We also enjoyed Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts (for free—hooray for Friday!) and an exquisite sculpture garden, the de Cordova, where my highlight was Steven Seigel’s “Big with Rift,” which consists of newspaper and whatever happens to come along and grow on it. I give it no justice in the description, but I told Monkey that if I lived nearby, I would visit that piece everyday.
A visit to nearby Walden Pond was also part of the itinerary. The weather held just long enough for us to make our way around the shore to see the site of Thoreau's cabin, to watch a young man release a pretty big fish, and to overhear snippets of every conversation being had. Water is quite a carrier of sound!
While we did experience a wide range of historical, cultural, and gustatory delights, we did not enjoy any musicals. I believe someone did propose we try to get tickets to West Side Story, which was playing nearby. Lucky for everyone, we decided not to.
On the fourth, we headed to the venerable Fenway Park to watch the Red Sox play the Toronto Blue Jays. There were a number of Blue Jay fans there. I think they came south from Canada, although it is possible they are simply part of the Boston population that still thinks they are British subjects. I don’t know what Canada’s status is vis a vis the Crown, but I think they are still more closely aligned than Boston is supposed to be. At any rate, the result of the ball game was favorable to the home crowd (the Red Sox lost—God Save the Queen).
After the game, we had another great dinner near MIT (I think my arctic char raised my IQ five to ten points), and then walked to a nearby bridge to watch the fireworks over the harbor. The evening’s show was great, despite the occasional T train that blocked our view momentarily. It did confuse me, however, when one of the nearby spectators told his son that the fireworks were to signal the Queen that all was still well in her most loyal of colonies. I thought to correct this historical misunderstanding, but the child’s beaming face in the glow of the rosettes and showers of flaming metal through which he waved his Union Jack was so precious, I thought, “Who am I to interfere?”
We walked home along with a mass of people who literally filled the streets. It made me wish we could just get rid of cars altogether, so that everyday bikes and shoes could ride and wander wherever they desired without fear of being run down, backed into, or blasted in the face with exhaust. This is a dream that may never be realized, but, even as it was suggested that this is what the zombie apocalypse might look like, I continued in my reverie undaunted.
And what did this fabulous trip to Boston leave me with? What is my final thought? I have learned that I love Boston, the city, far more than I hate Boston, the band. Rock on!