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Everyone knows what's good about Boston. Even before we decided to attend Harvard, the avid tourists in our hometowns sought us out to tell us what they liked best about their vacation in Beantown. While I was still in junior high, my dentist found out that I wanted to go to Harvard. From that point on, every six months I had to listen to a story about touring Bunker Hill or walking the Freedom Trail. All while having my cavities filled.
But the "Boston as Elysium" attitude just isn't to be found in backwater farm communities. One of the foremost responsibilities of the Boston press is to remind residents about all of the good things that abound in the metro area. Every year, Boston magazine eagerly compiles "The Best of Boston" listings, praising everything from beer to magicians--255 winners in all (!) Thus, for the modest cover price of $2.95, Bostonians can forever evade mediocrity.
But does anyone know what's bad about Boston? Most Bostonians do complain, but about the wrong things. Ask a Boston resident to name one of the worst things about his or her city, and you will likely get one of two answers: the weather or the parking. While it's true that neither of these is the city's strong suit, there really isn't much that anyone can do about them. Why waste time griping about Acts of God or Government (approximately the same thing for Massachusetts residents)? It's much more fun to complain about the food, the shopping or the entertainment.
Why should Boston magazine get away with ignoring the ugly side of Boston just because they're petrified of libel or the loss of advertising revenue? I've looked long and hard to find the worst things about Boston, and Fifteen Minutes has the guts to print them. Here they are, in no particular order. THE CITY
The South End
It would have been too easy to choose someplacelike Roxbury. But no one would actually choose tovisit Roxbury, much less live there. Thus, thishaven for the recently yuppified garners "top"honors.
Besides the fact that it is surrounded on foursides by areas of questionable safety, the SouthEnd boasts the highest doggie-doo per sidewalkarea ratio of any other neighborhood in the city.While the numerous trendy restaurants are fun tolook at, the hero of the studentbudget-McDonald's-is nowhere to be seen. Evenworse, the whole area is only marginallyaccessible by T and on the orange line (Yuck!)
Boston City Hall
City Hall is surrounded by an unwelcomingwasteland of brick and concrete perfect forrollerblading, large demonstrations and publicfloggings.
The building itself looks like a top-heavyconcrete bunker. It is perhaps one of the onlystructures in Boston that could have been designedby David Koresh. Look closely and you might seeMayor Menino with a rifle in one of the upperwindows. When the revolution comes, City Hall willbe the last to fall.
The City has recently recognized this aestheticdisaster, and, as damage control, has beenbrainstorming ways to make the plaza prettier.Maybe they could route the third harbor tunnelthrough it.
The Christian Science Mother Church
While the tour of the stained glass inside thechurch is somewhat appealing artistically,constant proselytizing by members of the cult-likeand financially troubled church make this toursomething like that Traci Lords subplot on MelrosePlace. And who really cares about seeing theirstate-of-the-art day care center, anyways?
The Boston Tea Party Ship
Don't be fooled by its location. Just becauseit's on a boat doesn't make the museuminteresting. For $4.80 (the student rate) you canlearn everything you've always wanted to knowabout the pre-Revolutionary War tea trade. Plusyou get to throw a "crate of tea" overboard intothe harbor. Caution: don't touch the water.
Oh, and don't forget to have a complimentarycup of tea--you'll need it to stay awake.
WORST URBAN PLANNING
The parking garage being built on Boston Common
Here's the logic: Boston needs more parking,and being a large city, doesn't really need thatmuch park. Besides, trees are overrated. So let'sfell a few hundred of them and put a largeconcrete and steel parking garage right on theCommon. Maybe the trees will help to absorb thenoise and pollution. Isn't progress grand?
What were the planners thinking? "First, let'sput it across the harbor from the rest of Bostonso that everyone will have to take an undergroundtunnel to get to it. Then, let's make toll boothsto slow down the tunnel traffic. Then, let's makethe tunnel two lanes. Then let's make it so thatpeople who want to take the T to get there have tochange lines a lot and use shuttle buses. Finally,let's make it so that the planes approaching haveto fly over water until the last second so thatall the travelers will be terrified of a landingin choppy, hypothermia-inducing water."
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