Beantown: The Sucking

Posted: May 31, 2007 in Uncategorized

I’m finding I don’t really like Boston much these days.

Not because Boston is a bad town, mind you. With all kinds of interesting old architecture, cool little restaurants and shops, a lack of serious pretension, and more dead people per square acre than any other US city, it’s really pretty nice. I just don’t seem to have very good times here. My experiences in the Boston metro area seem to be limited to some kind of business trip limbo, with the tone initially set by the crappy little United terminal at Boston-Logan.

Not so much that it’s particularly dirty or ugly or inconvenient; those all take some effort on someone’s part, particularly the ugly bit, and all are generally to be expected of any airport. Being uncomfortable and inconvenienced is just an accepted part of air travel, like it’s generally accepted that if you go for a swim, there’s good odds you’ll get wet. Really, it’s the evident lack of effort put into this particular portion of this particular airport that makes entering or leaving Boston feel like the city as a whole just can’t be bothered with you. An almost finely calculated short-staffing of security, minimalistic shops, and a general feeling of being in coach before ever stepping on the plane exudes an air of indifference. If I were dating the city, the airport would be my signal to start collecting all my stuff from its place.

For a while, this indifferent greeting was followed immediately by the special kind of crazy that is The Big Dig. The Big Dig is a project that has been going on for years and cost Boston taxpayers quite a bit, both in money and sanity. In an attempt to alleviate traffic issues, an undoubtably bright and ambitious young city planner decided to try and relocate the major arterial freeways feeding Boston underground, thus returning some of the quiet colonial charm of the city. Unfortunately, things did not quite go as planned, and the major arteries of Boston were frequently clogged or severed, bleeding out in convoluted detours which gave very thorough driving tours of the backs of warehouses and assorted construction zones. By the time you reached a toll booth, you were glad to pay the fee just to get away from the city. And likely that young city planner was just glad you had exact change.

Commute aside, the majority of the times spent here in the past 6-7 months have been dominated by work life in a suburban commercial park. Work, meetings, work, drinks at the hotel bar, sleep, repeat. Chances to break out of the cycle do come on occasion, but they’re often fleeting and far between. Somehow being a tourist here is hard for me to pull off. The willingness to fight traffic and the improbability of available parking versus driving three blocks to the hotel is generally melted away after a day in the corporate machine. So my mental association has been gradually soured over time, like a lab rat being given electric shocks for choosing what looks like a perfectly good bit of cheese. The cheese is still nice and tasty, it just doesn’t seem alluring anymore.

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