September 18, 2012

11 Things You Should Know About Living In Boston

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What is the issue?

1. It’s pronounced Woo-ster (Worcester) and Gloss-ter (Gloucester).

There are a ton of these cities in Boston and you better get them right. Things are not always pronounced intuitively. If you mess this up, you will get laughed at.

In related news, that accent is real. It is so, so real. But you gotta respect it. Those people are true Bostonians, and at this point, for me, even the most grating version of that accent makes me warm and nostalgic. I have had many boyfriends (and one girlfriend) who spoke that way. That being said, if you tell me to “pahk the cah” and you’re being cute, I will stab you in the neck.

2. The T closes at 12:30 a.m. Bars close at 2 a.m.

Kind of appalling, but the trains, which are various colored lines called “the T” or the “MBTA” stop before the bars close. Also this ain’t New York. This city sleeps. If you want to stay out later than 12:30, be prepared to cab it or sleep over. If you want to party past 2? That’s what houses in Allston are for. Similarly…

3. Give Allston a chance.

This place is generally regarded as a craphole, but I lived in Allston for years and I loved it. You know the Austin, TX saying “Keep Austin Weird?” I once saw graffiti on a wall that said “Keep Allston Shitty.”

The rent there is cheap. (I had a huge house with two other people for less than $1,500.) The bars are great. (Check out Model Cafe and the Silhouette.) And the house parties do not stop. (They really don’t.) Allston also has nice thrift stores, good restaurants (Sunset Grill and Tap has over 400 types of beer! Bagel Rising is delicious and hipster!), and fun music venues. Actually, don’t go to Allston. Keep it for the dedicated, proud few.

4. Sports is not a joke.

Not. A. Joke. There’s liking a sports franchise and then there is pure, bone-deep, familial dedication which knows no bounds and will be defended with violence if need be. Boston sports riots make other more political riots look like ticker tape parades. People regularly die in Boston sports riots. They. Die.

I’ve had numerous friends who will stop on the street and yell “Yankees suck!” at strangers wearing New York hats and shirts. They’ll literally be in the middle of talking about puppies or rainbows and then they’ll turn, vitriol spewing from their gnarled mouths, yell “Yankees suck!” with a vengeance and then turn back pleasantly to the conversation at hand. That’s how innate this stuff is.

5. Somehow people are super liberal and still super racist.

Boston is one of those weird cities with, it feels like, two faces. One face is the one that supported marriage equality and is home to one of the biggest gay pride parades. The other is WICKED racist. Southie doesn’t let gay people march in the St. Patrick’s Day Parade. Every so often there’s a hullabaloo where the cops arrested a black person in Cambridge only to find out he’s a Harvard professor. The neighborhoods can be very racially divided.

It’s a hard thing to talk about and one of the biggest criticisms of the city. Boston walks a tough line. It’s almost like most people are saying, “Well, sure. Everyone deserves equal rights, I just don’t want to be there when they exercise them.”

One time I was listening to a podcast with friends and the Indian comedian being interviewed started to talk about Boston. We paused the clip and bet on what kind of racist thing probably happened to him there. Lo and behold: He was called a racial slur on the street. We were joking about it, but the serious legacy of busing and segregation lingers.

6. There’s a pretty good arts scene for museums, music and comedy. Take advantage of it.

Shows at the Middle East! Shows at the Comedy Studio! Shows at Improv Asylum or Improv Boston! Art shows at the MFA or the ICA! So much good stuff has come out of Boston. Did you know Louie C.K. and Steven Wright and David Cross and Bill Burr started in Boston? Craig Finn of The Hold Steady went to Boston College. The Modern Lovers, Dropkick Murphys, Passion Pit, New Kids on The Block, Magnetic Fields. You get the picture.

Boston’s a creative place, but without all the glitz and schmaltz of New York or LA. Take advantage of what you can see while it’s still here!

7. Dunkin Mothereffin’ Donuts.

Get out with your Starbucks. Get out!

8. Everything is historical.

Take a walk around Boston and you’ll see that almost every place you go had some important part in American history. There’s the Freedom Trail, where you can take a guided tour of all those places, but mostly that’s unnecessary. Just meander about downtown and you’ll see all the patriotic graves and homes you could ever want to see.

You might even stumble onto some accidentally in a drunken haze one night. That place you just peed? Sam Adam’s grave. Cut it out.

9. Upper Crust is not the best pizza.

Anyone who tells you this is a liar. A LIAR. The best pizza is either Bravo Pizza in Allston (for drunk munchies) or Santarpio’s in East Boston (for sheer delicious perfection). At the latter, get the vodka sauce pizza. You will love it so much you will go back to Upper Crust and spit on their stoop.

10. The Fens is where gay prostitution happens. Now you know.

It’s like the Elephant Graveyard. You are never to go there, Simba.

11. Boston is a series of neighborhoods, all with distinct personalities.

One of the best things about Boston is how unique each area is. The neighborhoods are like a diverse groups of friends and the people that live in them are so specific to those places. There’s deep neighborhood pride, on top of devotion and love for the entire city of Boston. There’s neighborhoods plucked straight from The Town or The Departed right next to the academic elitism that is Harvard University right next to the drunken bacchanalia that is Boston University or Comm Ave.

Someone who lives in Jamaica Plain will not hesitate to tell you the best bars in Jamaica Plain. A girl in Davis Square will tell you you have to get coffee at Diesel because it’s the best. A guy in Dorchester knows every inch of his block and every neighbor he’s had for his entire life.

The biggest, most pervasive trait about Boston is the pride of the people who live there. They love Boston and they live Boston. Go in ready to bathe in that pride — and you know, maybe in Dunkin’ Donuts iced coffee too. TC Mark

image – US National Archives

Karen Noble

Karen is an overthinker who loves the Boston Celtics, crime noir and breakfast for dinner. Contact her at …

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