Saturday, February 16, 2008

Keep Your Eye on the Dot

You’ll keep your eye on the Dot if you’re wise. You’ll keep your eyes peeled and your senses honed sharp, open to opportunities. Plenty strike it rich in Dorchester, Mass. and plenty more get by without complaint or hardship. Yes, Dorchester, the biggest borough in Boston, the place where boys become men and girls become women. This is an adult neighborhood, brawny and beautiful, where neighbors work together to overcome obstacles. This is the thick of the city. It is dense with webs woven in convoluted patterns that overlap the streets’ twists and turns.

Tightly knit in a many-colored fabric of clapboards and accents and values and styles that transcend familial backgrounds, Dorchester is where life gets lived to its fullest potential with more bangs than whimpers. From Upham’s Corner to Fields Corner, from Lower Mills to Andrew Square, from Mattapan to Peabody Square to Neponset Circle to Meetinghouse Hill to Savin Hill; Dorchester’s weft morphs its pattern while keeping true to its underpinning. Stitched together, linked one block to the next, one kitchen per purl, embroidered knots perfectly placed by whim and design, Dorchester is a tapestry best felt with fingertips and seen with one’s own sight rather than described. It is a figure of more than eight and more than eight thousand.

I shared coffee and chocolate with a woman in Adams Village and she walked me to the bus stop to make sure I would get to Columbia Point in one piece. I passed up Dot Avenue past Caritas Christi and check cashing parlors, though Ashmont, through Codman Square then up Mount Bowdoin along Geneva Street. The American flag hung suspended over the shore of Dorchester Bay where Boston fronts its harbor and the wider Atlantic beyond. Everything was still but the wind and the traffic on the streets.

I make my home in Dorchester. I am one of the toughs, made of sinew, muscle and nerve. I am one of the many who make up the whole.

It takes more than a village to raise a grown person to the heights of greatness. It takes a whole, living city. Dorchester is the most robust organ in one of the most vibrant municipal bodies on the face of the globe. Boston births the American spirit. It is the cradle of liberty. It is a beacon that attracts by dint of historical gravitas and by the open-ended promises of its progressive schematic.

In an anatomical atlas of Boston proper, Dorchester occupies the place of spleen and gut and bladders. There is room for waste in Dorchester and there is room for gall, but most of all there is room to work to get things done and make a good life for oneself, one’s family and one’s fellow travelers.

Dorchester is the Dot, the bull’s eye, the sweet spot, the G spot, the soft spot, the tender trap, the hole in the net, the X on the treasure map, the end of many journeys, the ellipsis that ends an unfinished sentence. If you can’t be happy in Dorchester, you can’t be happy in Boston. If you can’t be happy in Boston, you can’t be happy anywhere. You had better aim lower if you can’t keep your eye on the prize.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

The Ninja 250

If you don’t ride a motorcycle and have never been tempted to, you will probably think this is boring. If you do ride a motorcycle, you will dismiss what follows as the work of a neophyte, a newcomer, a beginning rider. You are mistaken. If you don’t ride a motorcycle, I will clue you in: in riders’ circles, the bigger the bike: the better. Little bikes don’t get much respect. If you don’t ride a motorcycle, I trust you have enough spirit in yourself to thrill to the idea of what it is like to ride unencumbered, free as a bird, alone on the open road. If you do ride a motorcycle, I ask you to read closely and feel the same sensations this author does on the road. Anyone on a bike is better than everyone in a car.

A Poet Reviews Riding the 2007 Ninja 250.

Kawasaki is rolling out a new and supposedly improved model of its cultish Ninja 250. No technical details are discussed below and neither is the new bike. This is about the thrill and contentment that comes from riding a compact and power-packed motorcycle. We trust the engineers haven’t fiddled too much with the past models’ details. The small engine size categorizes the Little Ninja as an entry-level bike, but it is a bike that will carry you throughout your riding career. It is kind. It has pep. It has style. It is reliable. It is the best deal for the money, and it is a steady companion for those who choose to make its acquaintance….

When Life lets you down, your best friend is the Little Ninja. 250cc of comfortable power between your legs makes for a smooth ride able to handle whatever comes your way. The wind blows away cares and the hum of the engine drowns out complaints. The Little Ninja won’t force you to smile. You’ll do that naturally. Cares float away on any ride that unrolls under the Little Ninja’s wheels. In a pinch, the light Little Ninja will whisk you to safety and peace.

The Little Ninja loves to rev. The more revolutions per minute: the better. The faster and longer the twinned tires turn: the better. The more miles traveled, the longer the hours, the more sights passed, the higher the whine: the less the complaints. Life is good on the Little Ninja. Rider and machine are perfectly matched. No motorcycle compares to the Little Ninja. It welcomes all riders and it exceeds all expectations. The Little Ninja never disappoints. It thrills and it comforts in equal degrees.

Name your poison: straight, boring stretches of smoothly featureless highway, tight turns followed by tighter turns, city traffic, suburban rush hour, potholes, broken pavement, rutted, sun-baked mud, farm vehicles in the road, farm animals in the road, wild animals darting across the road, or distracted drivers on cell phones in SUVs. The Little Ninja has the strength of just enough horses that have been eating their vitamins and turning their octane into energy. These horses are sturdy and stalwart as Clydesdales but much more nimble. The Little Ninja purrs like a kitten even at full throttle. Whatever the situation, the Little Ninja is happy to deliver on spec and on time and under budget at around 70 miles per gallon. It performs as it is supposed to and then it does a little bit more.

Do you want comfort with just enough speed? Do you want just enough power and just enough torque? Do you want to look good and feel good? If you have something to prove, the Little Ninja won’t sit well between your thighs. If you have somewhere to go, the Little Ninja will take you there and back again, and back again, and back again.

The Little Ninja doesn’t recognize limits. The Little Ninja enjoys extremes and pushing past where other people think it should stop. Its engine revs like it should have an ejector seat, while it swallows obstacles like an old gentleman sipping smooth, old scotch. When you meet the Little Ninja, you make friends quickly. Master and servant accommodate each other like sides of a coin or a card. There are no gambles, only controlled chances and choices. When you ride a Ninja of any size you expect a sporting chance. When you ride the Little Ninja, you make your own fate while you sail closer to journey’s end.

Some people supplement their testosterone levels with added, irrelevant horsepower. Other people are content being in control, just getting by. The Little Ninja puts you in charge of the tachometer needle. It isn’t what you own that matters. It is how you deploy your talents for the biggest return that counts in a crunch come Doomsday. The Little Ninja’s engine hums the perfect soundtrack for any adventure. The road unravels, the miles slip by, the cloudscapes unfurl overhead, and the gas tank rarely needs to be topped off. The Little Ninja starts and idles until called into service; then it responds like a soldier. There is a job to be done. The Little Ninja answers the call of the mission at hand and the call of the open road.

When the open road beckons, the Little Ninja will take you over the horizon.


Related Posts with Thumbnails