In the wake of today’s horrific events in Boston…
…we are all Bostonians. This atrocity takes on an added level of outrage, sadness and disgust as it occurred on Patriots Day. On April 15, 2013 we are all Patriots. We are all Patriots fans today. Even New York Jets are.
Because Patriots Day actually has nothing to do with the NFL team, the New England Patriots. It’s a Revolutionary War Memorial Holiday.
I felt the need to re-publish an essay I wrote about the city of Boston and it’s similarities to Chicago in 2007. And to keep updated on the news coming out of Boston, here’s a good NESN sports reporter covering the Marathon to follow on Twitter.
Let’s get to the essay:
I once took an interactive quiz that verified what I assumed. It’s a personality test that answers what city is the perfect location for you.
I love Chicago, my home for most of my life; but if there were one place where I would choose to relocate, Boston would be at the top of the list.
The allure is multifaceted. Ironically, it wasn’t a visit to Boston but actually one to Orlando, Florida, that inspired this essay. I’ve been to Boston numerous times. But in Central Florida, I was astonished how at every theme park, there was much more Boston Red Sox and New England Patriots paraphernalia on display than all other teams combined. Additionally, a ton of New England themed sports bars/seafood restaurants dot the Central Florida landscape, including one in the town founded by Disney itself. I visited Celebration, FL, Disney’s Stepfordesque vision of Utopia. It reminded me of the Walgreens commercial set in a town called “Perfect.” It figures that the one sports bar in the “perfect” town would support all the Boston teams.
Pop Culture Dominance
My fascination with “America’s Athens” started in 2005 when the NFL Draft Webzine I wrote for reassigned me to columns on the nation’s highest profile team, the New England Patriots. This life long Bears fan (an essay on how that love became hate, and later detached indifference is coming during NFL Draft week, and believe me the Chicago Bears Media Relations Department will not like it when they see it. And they shouldn’t, that condescending cadre of morons are half the reason the Bears lost me for life) was first introduced to the Patriots as the comic foil in Super Bowl XX, the biggest sporting event in Chicago history. As I researched and wrote about the Patriots, the 2007 team went 16-0 and developed into a juggernaut comparable to the legendary ’85 Bears.
There are many people (mostly inebriated girls, probably wearing heavy beer goggles) who tell me that I look like Matt Damon. The 2007 Boston film he starred in, The Departed took home the Oscar for Best Picture. This movie may pass up Good Will Hunting, another film of Damon’s set in Boston, as my favorite. Then there is the theme from The Departed, “I’m shipping Up to Boston” by the Dropkick Murphys, also one of the Boston Red Sox’s theme songs.
Sports dominance by Boston teams in the 2000s has only one parallel in my lifetime. Around 1993, three bands from Seattle: Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Soundgarden, were so popular nationally that everyone who wanted to be hip claimed they were from Seattle. All bandwagon MLB, NBA and NFL fans looking to adopt a team in the 2000s, and didn’t have a team for any legitimate reason went Boston.
2008 was the year of the “Celtic Punk” genre (Dropkick Murphys, Flogging Molly, The Tossers) like ska (Mighty Mighty Bosstones, Reel Big Fish Save Ferris) was in ’97 or swing music (Squirrel Nut Zippers, Brian Setzer, Cherry Poppin’ Daddies) in ’98.
Beantown & Second City Similarities
Like Wrigleyville, the streets surrounding Fenway Park have a plethora of sports bars. The oldest stadium in baseball, Fenway is just like Wrigley Field, one of very few MLB parks located in a real city neighborhood. After two World Series titles in four years, the Boston Red Sox bandwagon grew at a “wicked fast” rate. However, the genuine breed of Sox fan is better depicted by the historical ethnography Now I can Die in Peace written by my media role model Bill Simmons. I blogged about my visit to Fenway experience and I as told it was a ‘Wicked Pissah’ of a read.
Boston fans share our passion for the home teams. My polarizing Halloween costume of Patriots head coach Bill Belichick is one of the best outfits I’ve ever had. In the years I had it my social media profile pic, Patriots fans from all over cyberspace rallied out.
Boston seems to value education and intelligence more than ‘The Chi.’ Cambridge, with M.I.T. and Harvard, is nicknamed ‘The Left Bank of Boston’ and attracts many visitors, tourists and locals alike. The University of Chicago and Northwestern, two schools in the same top tier, are located in parts of the city that very few people glamorize, let alone frequent. (Yeah I know NU borders Chicago, it’s not in the city limits, but close enough so deal with it) I know girls from the U of C. who proudly wore t-shirts reading: “University of Chicago: where fun goes to die.” Really. I’ve spoken with people who’ve lived in both cities, and they seem to think that intellectuals are usually treated better in Boston.
Politically Blue Streak
If you watched the 2004 presidential election on television, you might recall Illinois being the first “blue state” on the electoral map. With Haymarket Square, Upton Sinclair, the Weather Underground and the Daley Dynasty’s Democratic dominance, Chicago has a political tradition bluer than a Smurf. Boston has similar socially progressive values. From the days of the Massachusetts Bay Colony to the Same Sex Marriage amendment, they’ve been way ahead of the rest of the country on sociopolitical issues. Massachusetts was the first state to outlaw slavery in 1783, almost a hundred years before the Emancipation Proclamation. It’s also home to America’s ultimate dissidents, our most glorified “left-wing” of freedom fighters- the patriots who started the revolution in the 1770s.
Overall, home really isn’t about your mailing address, or where your teams play or what region produces your favorite entertainment products. It’s more about the state of mind than the actual state. Home is the place where you can be surrounded by the people who share your interests, values, and ideals.
On April 15, 2013, Patriots Day, we are all Patriots.
We are all Bostonians.
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