The Piano has Left the Building/What I Will and Won’t Miss

The piano movers came yes­ter­day and took the piano. I put up the sequence of pic­tures I took on Flickr. So one more piece of our life is no longer in Lilac Court. I wish I’d played it more, but I’m glad that it’s going to stay in the fam­i­ly, so I won’t miss it quite as much.

Speak­ing of miss­ing things, I’ve start­ed to think about the things I’ll miss from here (besides friends, of course). Here are the things I’ll miss, the things I’ll be glad to leave behind, and the things I real­ly won’t care either way:

Things I’ll Miss

  1. The Red Sox - now that they are ‘win­ners’. Still, the whole sil­ly ‘curse’ thing was fun, but if I real­ly missed that, I’d move to Chica­go. I also liked the Patri­ots, although it’s hard for me to get all weepy about foot­ball. I will miss Super­Bowl Sun­day at my friend Andy’s house. It became an annu­al culi­nary and social event that we reg­u­lars looked for­ward to. Thanks, Andy.
  2. Cod. What a won­der­ful, tasty fish, so mild and com­fort­ing when baked with herb bread crumbs, but­ter and lemon. On the oth­er hand, from all the over-fish­ing that’s going on, I may not be the only one who’s going to be miss­ing this fish in the near future. While we’re talk­ing food here, I’ll also miss Emma’s Piz­za, a piz­za par­lor famous from glow­ing write­ups in Newsweek and Zagat, which had to good sense to relo­cate to a near­by cor­ner. Piz­za most peo­ple would dri­ve hours for, and I got to walk home with it before it got cold and wash it down from Micro­brew­ery beer, also from across the street. It rarely gets bet­ter than that.
  3. Speak­ing of food, I will also miss all the fab­u­lous Ice Cream, includ­ing Toscanini’s , Christi­na’s, Emack and Bolios, Steve’s, JP Licks, the White Moun­tain Cream­ery and all of the oth­er incred­i­ble dairy con­fec­tionar­ies we have here. Some have called Boston the Ice Cream cap­i­tal of the coun­try, maybe even the world. They’re right.
  4. Hay­mar­ket. I love farm­ers’ mar­kets and this one was so authen­tic and cheap, it’s the way some fam­i­lies make ends meet. Where else could you get a bushel of peach­es for $2.50 ? Nev­er mind that you had to throw out a third of them because they weren’t so good.
  5. Har­vard Davis Square. Har­vard Square used to be a place to hang out and just peo­ple-watch, as well as go to nice book­stores. There’s only one book­store left (of the same name), and my favorite was Wordsworth (ask some­one who’s been here a while and they’ll prob­a­bly shed a tear as well). Har­vard has now become pret­ty much a shop­ping mall and clus­ter of banks. What Har­vard Square used to be like is now, Davis Square (small, inde­pen­dent book stores, cafés, restau­rants, and the Somerville The­atre). Much livelier.
  6. Liv­ing in the Intel­lec­tu­al Capi­tol of North Amer­i­ca. No oth­er city, any­where, has as many col­leges as Cam­bridge, MA. Yes­ter­day was Har­vard Grad­u­a­tion. Every­where you looked you saw peo­ple in caps and gowns, flow­ers, hap­py par­ents, and lost dri­vers with out-of-town license plates. The week before it was MIT. Those are the big ones, and there are many small­er ones, many of which, on their own, could be the cen­ter­piece of a Uni­ver­si­ty town.
  7. Memo­r­i­al Dri­ve. Noth­ing more beau­ti­ful than a Sun­day in the late Sum­mer or Fall walk­ing along the Charles Riv­er. In the evening we’d take bread crusts to feed the ducks. Sad­ly, pol­lu­tion has since has caused them to leave.
  8. Speak­ing of Fall, the Fall col­ors were some­thing to ooh and ah about every year. I love that sea­son, and late Sep­tem­ber was always a treat.
  9. Being close to Ver­mont. The thing that prob­a­bly makes me the sad­dest about leav­ing the US is leav­ing Ver­mont, one of the coun­try’s sav­ing graces. I’ll also miss Tan­gle­wood and Dublin, New Hamp­shire. Where I got my music fix each sum­mer vis­it­ing The Walden School, a fan­tas­tic sum­mer pro­gram I attend­ed as a stu­dent eons ago, and taught as a fac­ul­ty mem­ber not much more recent than that.

Things I’ll be Glad to Leave Behind

  1. Logan Air­port. They should nev­er be for­giv­en for let­ting the ter­ror­ists on not one but two planes on 9/11. I would­n’t be so hard on them, but for the fact that it was lat­er revealed that the head of secu­ri­ty for the air­port at the time had got­ten that cushy job by being the Gov­er­nor’s chauf­feur. Favors for fam­i­ly and friends put the whole coun­try at risk. On a more triv­ial lev­el, the place is still filthy, ugly, dif­fi­cult to get around in, dif­fi­cult to land on, and an all-around dis­grace. The best thing they can do is to shut the whole thing down. Build an air­port off-shore on an arti­fi­cial island like the Chi­nese did (hey, why not anoth­er Big Dig!) I’m going to be thrilled not to have to return home via Logan. It’s a pity so many do.
  2. Repub­li­can Gov­er­nors. Now admit­ted­ly, I did vote for William Weld, but that was because the only alter­na­tive was a mani­ac named John Sil­ber, who was so dis­agree­able that I would have vot­ed in Ghengis Kahn over him. (Well, almost). Unfor­tu­nate­ly, after Weld (who was stopped in mid-career by none oth­er than that Nean­derthal, Jesse Helms), there have been a suc­ces­sion of GOP gov­er­nors in Mass­a­chu­setts (Cel­lu­ci and now Rom­ney), and each one has been just as bad
  3. Liv­ing in a User-Hos­tile City. Boston has an atti­tude: Sig­nage is for sissies; you should just know where you are, so don’t both­er ask­ing for direc­tions. That includes roads as well as the T (sub­way). If you’re with lug­gage and come in via AMTRAK at South Sta­tion, you’ll nev­er be able to find an ele­va­tor. Take if from me, I could­n’t, and I’ve lived here near­ly 20 years! I also prob­a­bly don’t need to men­tion that Boston dri­vers are known through­out the coun­try for being the among the most aggres­sive and rude. I sus­pect that I’ve picked up some of the dri­ving style and will have to work to tone it down.
  4. The Win­ters. In fact, the weath­er in gen­er­al is far from pleas­ant. Not only were win­ters very cold and snowy, but sum­mers were not that com­fort­able either. Boston also seems to lack any kind of a Spring, tem­per­a­ture-wise. You go from too cold to too hot in a day. I wish we could have got­ten more than 1 or 2 days of 72°F/22°C per year. It’s cur­rent­ly a steamy 79°F/26°C, and it’s only June!
  5. Gov­ern­ment Cen­ter. Well, no one likes that place. It is tru­ly one of most unat­trac­tive build­ings ever built. Every­body in Boston knows it’s hor­ri­ble, but in all the years I’ve lived here, not a soul has been able to get any con­cen­sus on what to do about it. What a waste of space and a lost opportunity!

Where I Won’t Care Either Way

  1. The Big Dig. It nev­er affect­ed us, and now that it’s done, depend­ing on who you ask, it was either a mar­vel of engi­neer­ing or a shame­ful piece of polit­i­cal pork (or both). I think it’s just a big tun­nel. And although the Bunker Hill/Leonard Zakim bridge is pret­ty, we’ve actu­al­ly nev­er dri­ven on it. Big Deal. What real­ly needs help are the roads above ground. The pot­holes out­num­ber the pigeons.
  2. Liv­ing Amongst Colo­nial His­to­ry. While I did once par­tic­i­pate in what I’d like to think was an impor­tant dig­i­tal media project around the Boston Free­dom Trail some years ago, I have to say that I’ve just had it with the city’s attempt to turn itself into Ye Olde Yan­kee Theme Parke. As the local gov­ern­ment and builders pre­serve one of the ugli­est build­ings in the city (the old City Jail) as part of a Med­ical Cen­ter build­ing project just across the riv­er, I’ve come to the real­iza­tion that too much rev­er­ence of the past can be almost as bad as not enough.
  3. The Boston Accent. Sure, it’s easy to make fun of, and I can cer­tain­ly do a ver­sion of it, but hav­ing that Boston ‘pahk your cahr’ sound nei­ther enhances nor detracts from peo­ples’ impres­sion of you. At worst you sound like an idiot. At best, (as Jon Stew­art of the Dai­ly Show has some­times said) you sound like May­or Quim­by from The Simp­sons. Who knows, I might get all teary-eyed when I hear one years from now, but thanks to the fact that NPR’s Car Talk is heard every­where from Con­stan­tino­ple to Tim­buk­tu, I don’t think that will happen.
  4. The Kennedys. Pam saw Ted Kennedy once at the air­port. I stood next to Bill Weld and Michael Dukakis (at dif­fer­ent times) on the T, but nev­er a Kennedy.
  5. The North End. This small Ital­ian neigh­bor­hood was sup­posed to be famous for great food. Frankly, I was dis­ap­point­ed more often than not. The sand­wich­es at Il Pani­no could be very good though.

Those are the lists I could think up in these last few days. There will be more that I dis­cov­er, and Ali­son Rose (who has left some nice com­ments here) has a run­ning appre­ci­a­tion in her blog of things New Eng­land, Every­thing’s SFNE. Here’s to only remem­ber­ing the good things, which mem­o­ry always does for us.