Sunday, January 25, 2009

"Go Back to the Suburbs and Die."

You can always tell which Red Line customers are going to go all the way to Alewife, get in their cars, and drive to their suburban fortresses. They carry trinkets and souvenirs from the most vacant and touristic attractions in Boston--Red Sox and Celtics paraphernalia, Loews Boston Common movie theater cups, tourist t-shirts, etc. As if the city were one giant mall whose homogeneity was just a T fare away (plus Alewife parking fee).

Last weekend I was in a bar in Quincy* when a secretary from the suburb of Abington, wherever that may be, tried to hit on me (or otherwise talked to me for some reason). She asked me where I lived. "Oh," she said. "There's some nice parts in Somerville, I guess." Like you would fucking know. For all these people, the city is the place they drive through or take the T under on their way to their own personal disneyland.

The suburban townies are all terrified of the city. They stick to the safest bets and pray that they don't get robbed on the T. When I see these people clutching their pathetic souvenirs, blocking the doors when they're on the train, and not letting people off the train while they're waiting to board, I think about robbing them.

The suburbanites remind me of the hollow, rich losers I went to Tufts with. Back then, a night out in Boston meant going to the Galleria, because going to a mall was all anyone knew how to do. I hate this culture of the suburbs, where everyone is above average and no one tries to do anything new. A land of people with eyes but no vision, people with big backyards but no curiosity, people with educations but no thirst for knowledge, a culture of lazy fucking idiots whose ignorance remains blissfully unchallenged.
The post title, one of the most memorable quotations that I've ever overheard, was uttered at a grindcore concert at a Providence loft called The Sickle in the spring of 2003.

*Note, 1/26. I was at the birthday party of a friend who lives in Quincy. I don't actually hang out there.

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Anonymous BostonGirl said...

Isn't Somerville a suburb of Boston?

3:36 PM  
Blogger Rob said...

Not really. Somerville--and Cambridge, Chelsea, Everett, Revere, Brookline, Quincy, etc.--is an "inner ring urban suburb" whose population density alone denotes it an urban area. While urban Boston has bizarre municipal boundaries, the notion that anything outside of Boston city limits has to be a suburb is absurd.

No offense to you, BG, but I think a lot of urban planning is influenced by suburban notions of what cities are supposed to be (glass and steel playgrounds with cushy white collar jobs and movie other words, malls). For a local example, consider, the Mass. Convention Center Authority's 2007 proposal on doubling the size of the Boston Common garage. One of the reasons expansion was necessary, they argued, was that a bigger garage would allow people to drive into downtown and then take the unbuilt Silver Line over to their office.

In suburban thinking, there are two worlds: downtown and home. The nether-region in between is nether city nor suburb, and what lies beyond (i.e. rural areas) doesn't matter as long as the grocery chains continue stocking eggs and milk.

4:55 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

dude get over yourself, to many you seem like a douchebag who thinks he is better than others.

You think your life is so much better? Living on the edge and what not.

What are you 12?

5:16 PM  
OpenID ron-newman said...

I live in Davis Square and frequently wear a Red Sox cap during baseball season. Does this make me somehow a bad or uncultured person?

5:33 PM  
Anonymous John said...

Anon, other than 2 year stint in rural RI, I've lived in Somerville the rest of my 37 years (and went to Tufts as well) and Rob is right on with his observations. The problem is everyone else thinks their life is so much better than those of us that CHOOSE to live in urban areas. And only a 12 year old would use dude and douchbag in the same sentance (and do it in an anonymous post).

5:34 PM  
Blogger boredom is a mindset said...

John's comment is made that much better by the fact he misspells sentence... especially considering there's spell check on these things.

6:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"A bar in Quincy," and you have the temerity to criticize them?

Quincy is a suburb. An ugly one. Far better to live in a fortress in Abington, I think.

-Carpundit, who lives in the actual city.

6:07 PM  
Anonymous John said...

Boredom, it's that Tuft's edumacation I done got!

7:08 PM  
Blogger geoff said...

You gotta know you'd get trolls posting against you the way you ripped them, BG - but right on. My favorite is when people ask me -- you actually live in dwntown crossing? yeah, f*khead -- we've been living here for 400's by you?

Love to know how many of the groped T-riders are actually from the city. Anyone (guy or girl) I know from here, charlestown or cambridge would beat the living sheet outta someone who touched their a*$ on the T w/o their consent.


7:11 PM  
Anonymous BostonGirl said...

Re: Somerville as a suburb - I know, I really just said that to get you riled up.

I actually agree with some of what you said about the mall cultures, etc. but maybe you'd be better off going to bars in the city.

And, sorry, but many people have never been to Somerville, and have only heard it referred to as Slumerville. (Don't yell at me, I didn't make that nickname up.)

7:20 PM  
Blogger Rob said...

That settles it. Next year, I'm making my friend from Quincy hold his birthday party in Somerville or Cambridge.

9:44 PM  
Blogger Richard said...

Just stay on your side of the river there Somerville and we won't have any problems.

1:22 PM  
Blogger Dan said...

Ah yes, if we could all be as gritty, hip, and as wordly as you, the world would be such a better place. Yeah, right.
Thanks for the entertainment. I always get a kick out of essays about the superiority of city dwellers over petty suburbanites. You sound as clueless as the Quincy bar chicks.

2:10 PM  
Blogger Rob said...

waaa waaa waaaaa.

I'm glad to see all the suburban closed-mindedness that I decried coming out from behind the picket fence. Someone on UniversalHub suggested that I was "unoriginal" because it was hip to criticize the suburbs 50 years ago. I think many of those criticisms hold up, and I have to wonder how (if) suburban geography limits the development of the mind. A child who grows up on a cul-de-sac and is trained to think that every one of life's necessities comes from a big box must have a fairly limited worldview. Maybe that's why study abroad programs are so popular at places like...Tufts.

I realize that most people don't like to have their ways of life challenged. That's very suburban of you. Just keep churning out closed-minded, city-fearing babies and everything will be fine.

3:00 PM  
Blogger N said...

"Slumerville"? Really? That slur was becoming obsolete when my family first moved there in 1989. Back in those days, my Dad used to say buying a home in Somerville "you get all the benefits of living in Cambridge at half the price." And by the way, Somerville is the most densely populated city in Massachusetts, so "suburb" also doesn't apply.
I feel for Rob- I live in Watertown and work out on I-495. All my co-workers live outside 495 or in New Hampshire. None of them have ever set foot in Somerville, and they only go to Boston maybe once a year. When I tell them I went to Davis Square for a movie, I might as well have said Mars. All their lunchtime conversations are dominated by visits to the Pheasant Lane Mall. Ug.

3:46 PM  
Blogger Dan said...

Speaking of close-minded, your perception of the burbs is the definition of close-minded.
I really don't care where you live, and I totally understand living in the city with all it has to offer. It's the disdain for people that choose to live otherwise that makes you look incredibly arrogant. I can't imagine what it's like working with you - "If you're not like me, you're a fucking asshole". Yup, great attitude.
FWIW, I can't remember the last time I was in a mall.

4:18 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I live in Boston. Where is Somerville and Quincy?

5:46 PM  

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