Sunday, June 29, 2008

I went to Forest Hills Cemetary today and found Eugene O'Neill's grave after much searching with help of the complimentary map provided at the entrance gate. This map wasn't drawn by any cartographer. It was made with some help from a software program to make it look professional but America's only playwright Nobel Laureate's tombstone was nowhere near where it was indicated on the map. Any relation to actual topography should be assumed to be fictional.

After an hour spent crisscrossing the terrain to the right of Cupressus Avenue, I got the idea that the map is full of indications rather than exact directions. I found e.e. cummings resting place in a thrice. Good thing I had figured out that the map doesn't take landscape into consideration because this poet's final resting place is not really off Cherry Avenue unless a pilgrim wants to take an eight foot drop down a puddingstone wall.

Marks for the cemetary: top notch. Marks for famous writers' tombstones: so-so. It is all funded by private money of course so you can't fault a family who wants to commemorate on the cheap.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Bad Weather

With winter over, one would think I'd stop complaining about the weather. I was very happy when the heat wave hit a few weeks ago. It is a memory now. Though the temperatures are pleasant enough, I have a bone to pick with Mother Nature's gamemanship in Boston.

I ride a motorcycle to and from work now that winter is through. I enjoyed taking the T when the streets were slippery but, frankly, it takes to long and it isn't as exhilerating as weaving through traffic to get stuck at the next red light. Don't get me kvetching about school buses, which are a subject for another rant. I am told that school ends in a week or two, so it will be postponed until September.

During my lunch break for the past two weeks it has been pleasantly sunny. I take of my jacket, roll up my sleeves and stroll around Mission Hill. I stop in a park and soak up some sunshine, wishing I could spend the whole afternoon doing just that. I look forward to watching the clock tick closer to quitting time.

Every day for the past two weeks, the sky has been overcast by the time I leave work. Some days it rains just as I get a quarter mile from home, and it's not a long commute. Most days it's just about ten degrees cooler than at noon. Today, I looked out the office window and saw that thunderheads were rolling in. The bottom of the cloud cover was like soiled cotton heavy with moisture. When I left the office, the wind was peeling the leaves back from the trees. Oh happy day!

It hasn't rained yet, though I have witnessed lightening striking over Dorchester Bay. The wind has died down and it may not rain at all, though some thunder just rolled overhead. Even if it doesn't rain, I have the feeling I am being gypped. I am from Connecticut, a stone's throw away in global terms, so you would think I'd be used to this kind of weather. No. I am from New London, Conn., a city where the sun always shines and every frown is turned upside down. My Seasonal Affective Disorder may last all year.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

T Police

We were at JFk/UMASS/Columbia/Boston Expo Center station today waiting for one of the trains headed inbound to come in. A T officer walked into the lobby and stopped two potential poassengers, telling them she had seen them slip through the gates without paying thier fair fare. She said, "You need to pay your fare."

The two alleged malfesciants stared at her dumbly. "What do you mean?" the male asked, his twin shopping bags hanging as slackly from his hands as his jaw hung off his face. The T officer said, "I say you walk through without paying. You need to go back and use your ticket or your pass." The female of the duo just stared, open-mouthed. She may not have understood what was happening or she may have been mute. Her companion made up for her silence, repeating again, "What do you mean?"

The bell rang indicating that the inbound train from Ashmont was arriving. The T officer, an slightly built though big-hipped woman stood her ground. She said, "You have to go back through the gate and pay." My companion and I went to the platform and boarded the 10:47 bound to Andrew Square. I scanned the concrete and didn't see the fare jumpers along the length of it. I can only assume they were cajoled to go back through the turnstyles to purchase a Charlie ticket. This officer deserves a commendation, especially when considering the latest news of officers not being bothered with petty fare theft.

I am happy to be a scofflaw when no one is harmed. I park my motorcycle in gray jurisdictions. When it comes to the T, though, everyone should pay their way. I don't complain when I have been caught in a parking violation and people who junp fares shouldn't complain when they are caught in the act. There is no point to playing dumb. We all know we have to pay to keep the trains running. I am glad this T officer had the guts and chutzpah to enforce the letter of the law.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Taking the Bus on The Red Line!!

We arrived at Downtown Crossing en route to JFK/UMASS and the station was full, shoulder to shoulder from the platform's edge to the exit stairs. The announcement came that train service was closed due to a fire at South Station and buses would take passengers to thier destinations. The announcement didn't say where the buses would be but my companion and I are quick on our feet and we hightailed to the light of day. There was no sign of a bus on Winter Street.

We decided to head to Park Street where there were already buses headed toward Kendall/MIT for some regularly scheduled bridge maintenance. Unfortunately, this was just as the Gay Pride Parade was ending and Park Street was crowded and clotted with celebrants as well as disgruntled T passengers who had been disgorged from that station. We could see this from the corner of Macy's. We conferred and decided South Station would be better equipped for a speedy, less congested escape from downtown.

We got to South Station and there was a crowd but no buses. I went to the turnstyles and was told the buses would be directly upstairs. They weren't, so we went into the station to see if we could cadge a ride on a regularly scheduled bus headed down Dot Ave. There were no schedules in sight and no indication where that bus may be found, if it indeed exists. We headed back to the crowd across from South Station's main entrance. There were four buses there by now and we got on board number four.

All in all, it was a speedy trip from South Station through South Boston to Andrew Square and then JFK/UMASS. One woman even ate a cup of ice cream while straphanging for the full T experience. When she got off at Andrew, some wag commented that at least she hadn't been eating pork lo mein. It was very speedy and the MBTA performed admirably. I am sure this dispatch of little inconvenience will be in the minority, but as usual, I think the MBTA did a good job, all things considered. It was a lovely day to walk back to the Dot, but I didn't have to. Dare I say the bus driver looked like a halibut?

Friday, June 13, 2008

Boycott Legal Sea Foods!??!

I ate at Legal Sea Foods across from the New England Aquarium two weeks ago. It wasn't my choice. It was a good meal at a very reasonable price considering the level of service our party recieved. I didn't see any trolley conductors in attendance, but they may have been out of uniform.

I think this whole 'fresh fish' advertising in poor taste. I thought it so when it was on taxi cabs. I thought it was so on the sides of trains. I wouldn't get bent out of shape about it if I were an MBTA concutor, but I don't deal with the public on a daily basis and get harrassed over the course of my day. Many digs make for thin skins. Of course, you choose the profession you pursue and being a union grunt makes you more prone to take slights to your looks more personally. You can't be criticized for the job you do, so any other kind of insult is magnified. It is a tempest in a styrofoam coffee cup.

I don't think a boycott will dent Legal Sea Foods' business. I don't think tourists take the T except as an adventure, in which case the delays are something to tell the folks back home about. This bit of much ado about little will entertain the folks at home about life in the 'big city.'

Legal Sea Foods will be laughing all the way to the bank. The conductors will have egg on their faces. Being a conductor on the B line isn't really a transferable skill. We think the conductors protest too much. This has nothing to do with a death in the family or with disrespect. It has to do with making money.

Friday, June 06, 2008

Ghost Rat

I was walking down Sydney Street in Dorchester, Mass. It is the street that runs between the JFK/UMASS station and the Savin Hill station on the Red Line. The street runs parallell to the subway tracks. While I was on the sidewalk I saw a white rat in the middle of the street.

I saw a white rat, but I didn't see it. It wasn't an albino rat. It was transluscent, like the see-through ghost fish that are housed in pet store aquariums that sell for three bucks an inch-long fish. I stared at the rat and I could see through it. It ran in front of a car and I could see the tire needed rotating. It ran in front of a discarded soda bottle and I could read the bottle held twelve ounces. The rat paused in front of someone's shoe and I saw thier laces needed tying.

Old Man Herlihy sat on his front stoop. He coughed up a lungful of phlegm. "Auuugh, huawwwk, kaff, kaff," he coughed. I asked him if he had seen the white rat. He said, "That's the ghost rat. It's been here since before I was a boy. You'll get used to him. Some nights, the ghost rat shows up and someone on the street dies. Some nights, the ghost rat shows up and someone wins a sratch ticket. Some nights, nothing happens at all. Those are most nights."


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