Tuesday, September 08, 2009

A poetaster

We came across this less than lovely line of poetic commentary: "...Dot smells like urine, diesel, sour milk, and ass. But if you want to romanticize that, great." Needless to say, some would disagree.

I live in Dorchester and I enjoy it. My neighbors are friendly, the locale is convenient, affordable and, really, lovely. My street does not smell like urine, diesel fuel, sour milk, or any one's fundament. If these articles are romantic, so be it. I am a romantic along the lines of the moods depicted by my favorite painter, Caspar David Friedrich. He painted the picture at the top of this editorial and I like to think of it as a portrait of Whalehead King standing at the summit of Dorchester Heights, in South Boston, looking toward the Blue Hills out yonder but studying the lay of the land in between.

Dorchester smells of urine and diesel and sour milk and sour opinions in some alleyways. It also smells of blood, neglect, burnt gunpowder, overflowing dumpsters, rats' nests, and barrels of toxic chemicals. When the breeze blows off Dorchester Bay and rattles the leaves into a murmuring sussurus and garden flowers' full heads bob and weave their perfume through the air, that is also Dorchester's scent. There are more back gardens than there are back alleys.

When kitchen stoves are lit en masse, pots and pans exhale steam through fly screens and whole blocks smell like pasta fagiole or corned beef and cabbage or homemade pho or ginger or chili or basil or fennel. Is that romantic? No. That's dinner. As I travel from one three-decker lined canyon to the next, I am treated to an olfactory symphony that tickles my nose, my tastebuds, my appetite and my appreciation for my surroundings. That's Dorchester. I know. I experience it every day.

Poverty is relative. Money may not slosh around Dorchester, but people buy and sell as well as haggle. The typical Dorchesterite's lifestyle isn't that of the rich and famous but neither is it of the down and out. People get by. They make do. They earn their paychecks and they pay the rent on time. You won't find many fancy cars in Dorchester but you'll find serviceable vehicles. You won't find much trash. Parks and lawns tend to be well maintained and both types of property, public and private, are respected.

If you think you know Dorchester, you may know a part of it. It takes many hours over many weeks and many years to appreciate every aspect Dorchester offers and hides. Dorchester is uglier than you think in some spots but overall, Dorchester is more beautiful than you imagine.

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