Saturday, October 10, 2009

The Illumadotti

Outsiders wonder why Dorchester thrives despite being one of Boston's most disrespected and seemingly neglected neighborhoods. It is true that Dorchester looks a bit down on its luck at first inspection. Yet people continue to move in, businesses make profits and no one who lives here has an unkind word to say about their situation. It's very different from other parts of Boston. Despite seeming to have cause for a litany of complaints, Dorchester is complacent. What unseen benefits do Dorchesterites enjoy?

Boston has a mayor and Dorchester is represented on the City Council. I believe we have Marty Walsh as our elected representative, though I may be mistaken. That's how relevant the chartered government is: a paper tiger. Boston's official, municipal government cleans the streets and staffs the fire stations, but whatever policies get set at City Hall have few tangible effects in Dorchester. There is a shadow government afoot in the Dot, one that spreads Dorchester's wealth and polices the mores and morals of its citizens more effectively than the Health Department or the BPD. Dorchestester's gears are greased, but no elected official has much to do with how things are run.

A cabal of unelected leaders meets fortnightly at a secret headquarters rumored to be at the summit of Mount Bowdoin. They sometimes gather in quorums at other locales according to a rotating schedule set by tradition to ensure they experience all of Dorchester in the round, keeping in touch with their surroundings, leaving no sidewalk untravelled.

No one knows for sure who the Illumadotti are, though anyone who spends time in Dorchester comes under their influence and experiences their effects. It isn't only Dorchester's street plan that is a tangled web, it is its social relationships and its commercial interactions. Some Illuminadotti are prominent businessmen, some are the American Legion adjutants. One heads a branch of the PTA, one is the vice chairman of a neighborhood crime watch, one is a pimp managing a bevy of employees. One hawks newspapers at a traffic intersection in the morning, one approves mortgages, another maps sewers and monitors their maintenance schedules. One is a local historian. One is a midget who has never graduated second grade, year after year, despite attending night classes and earning an associate's degree at Roxbury Community College.

Dorchester is woven through with invisible filaments and no one knows for sure who pulls the strings. The strings get pulled though and Dorchester dances. Good things happen in Dorchester for a reason. The Illuminadotti make sure of it.

I can't say that I know anything about this secret society. I am not a member and even if I were privy to all of its secrets, I wouldn't be the one to blow the lid off this benevolent conspiracy. Let me go on record: I know nothing. Good things happen in Dorchester without official explanation. They happen seamlessly to everyone's benefit. Few homes go without a Thanksgiving turkey and few households are destitute for long. How this happens is a mystery under the radar. Only the Illuminadotti know why what happens as it does.

There are few complaints, if any, in Dorchester, Mass.

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