Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Better a day in the Dot

Even when it seems nothing is happening in Dorchester, the neighborhood is simmering with activity. Pacts get made and broken, and vendettas get settled with lawless flourish but newspapers are delivered every morning without incident and the majority of good citizens in this part of Boston go about their daily business unmolested and even undisturbed. It is hard to ruffle a Dorchesterite. They are as jaded as they are contented.

Norfolk Street wends its way from Codman Square to Blue Hill Avenue in Mattpan crossing some rough terrain. It's no Parisian boulevard but it's ours. It isn't neccesarily scenic but it has its delights to entice the eye. Just after New England Avenue is a string of murals depicting machinery that would make Man Ray and Max Ernst salivate with Dada-ist envy. Teams in homespun uniforms play cricket and soccer (known as futball in this part of town) on the fields of the Walker Playground and crowds gather to cheer.

It's a sort of bombed-out, forlorn, urban landscape, the kind of place Englishmen would visit in 19th century Italy in order to write love poems amid the ruins of a grander time. The people who live here live operatic lives full of drama about which tidy burghers can only romanticize. The reality doesn't quite measure up to the dream but no one who lives here complains overly much. It's a good life when you make the most of what you have and give thanks for small blessings.

Most natives and quite a few transplants say, "Better a day in Dorchester than a lifetime on Commonwealth Avenue." They're right. They would soon be bored in the Back Bay. Dorchester may not be the choicest cut of meat, but its got the sizzle of the best filet mignon.

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