Friday, April 07, 2006

Fenway follies

From the shameless self promotion file comes this info on the musical I’m co-writing, THE 60’s PROJECT. See you in Connecticut this summer.

http://www.goodspeed.org/shows/sixtiesproject.htm

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Further shameless self promotion: For you new to this blog, I've been writing goofy travelogues to those in my address book for the last eight/nine years. I share them occasionally here because hopefully they're entertaining, they allow me to take some days off, and most important, I'd like to scare up a book deal.

Today I decided on my 2004 trip to Boston. There’s a big section about Fenway Park and since the Red Sox home opener is only days away I thought how perfect! (Actually, I was looking for any flimsy tie-in to post it…and this one actually sorta kinda sounds legit.) Enjoy what I fantasize will someday become Chapter 15.

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Back from Boston and our son, Matt’s graduation from Tufts. He finished Summa Cum Laude (Latin for “I need a job”), which is astounding...considering he's in a frat. My wife, daughter, parents, and wife's sister's family all converged for this. (My daughter, Annie, was only half there. The night before we left was also her high school grad night. She went right from that to the airport. Like you, she's learning all the things we did on this trip through this travelogue.)

With so many universities in Boston the town was packed. It's a preview of the Democratic National Convention in July except these people spend money.

We decided instead of taking two carry on's we'd free up some precious overhead compartment space and check in one bag. American Airlines thanked us by charging us an extra $25 because the bag weighed six pounds too much. My parents were in first class. We were in coach. But they had to sit through an episode of YES, DEAR just like we did so what's the point of first class?

Checked into the Charles Hotel in Cambridge. Very deluxe. Quilts on display everywhere. Except on the beds. We reserved a suite but discovered there was no door between the bedroom and sitting room (which sort of defeats the purpose). So they sent up a screen from the banquet hall and a rollaway bed for Annie both of which took up the entire room. Instead of a suite in Cambridge we had an efficiency in Tokyo.

Hooked up with the graduate and headed straight for Fenway Park to catch a Red Sox game. If you've never been to Fenway imagine the Vatican but they can sell beer. It is a baseball cathedral. I'll be doing some work for NESN this season (the New England Sports Network) so I was able to get four spectacular seats between first and home, lower level, not behind a post. The only two drawbacks to the park -- Fenway Franks are the worst hot dogs on the planet and the seats and rows are very tiny. And since everyone in Boston looks like Norm Peterson of CHEERS you see these people just wedged into these chairs. Standing for the National Anthem requires the jaws of life. It was a very exciting game. The Red Sox beat the Blue Jays and Annie, after you fell asleep, they scored five runs in the eighth inning.

A Fenway tradition is everyone singing "Sweet Caroline" in the middle of the 8th inning. I don't know why. 32,000 drunk New Englanders singing Neil Diamond. Annie, you were lucky.

Walked to the T (subway) after the game past all the guys selling anti-Yankee and pro-Boston t-shirts. "Hey, anyone can have a bad century", "Posada is a Little Bitch", "Jeter Sucks A Rod", "A Rod is an A Hole", "Wake Up the Bambino and I'll drill a few into his Ass -- Pedro Martinez", etc. Boy, let another team beat you for the championship 26 times and you never let it go.

There is a block long banner along the highway near Fenway that says: IS YOUR NEIGHBOR'S GUN LOCKED? ASK! I'm not sure the point of that other than to scare to hell out of me. I wonder if you can see it from the Freedom Trail. I hope you can.

Woke up the next morning. The temperature had gone from 70 to 40. It would stay in the 40's and 50's, raw, overcast, and rainy the rest of the weekend. Meanwhile (and this is true), a few hundred miles south in New York it was 80 degrees and sunny. You can print your "I hate A Rod" t-shirts all you want -- New York IS better!

The big front page story in the Boston Globe was Red Sox centerfielder, Johnny Damon, shaving his beard. On page three we learned that Senator Kerry would be in town all weekend. It's bad enough Kerry has to follow Triumph, the insult comic dog puppet on the TONIGHT SHOW, but he takes a back seat to Johnny Damon in his own "crib"?

Went out to Somerville (near Tufts) for a brunch at Matt's girlfriend's. It was like the Dean Stockwell apartment scene in BLUE VELVET. Back to Cambridge for lunch with my parents and Debby's sister's family. Nine people including a three year old and a waiter who screwed up every single order. Fortunately I was sitting next to my mom. It's true what they say, no one can comfort you like your mommy. She gave me four Ativans.

Why does the inside of every Boston taxicab smell like fruitcake?

Sunday was the big day. The Tufts commencement ceremony was lovely even though we all froze our asses off. I couldn't see the stage but I could see my breath. It's practically June!!

I do love all the pomp and circumstance. Especially the big processional into this hundred year old quad surrounded by stately brick buildings, dignitaries and school officials standing on stage looking like the Dutch Masters. Every parent with a camcorder recording jiggly partially blocked shots of mortarboards going by, and students in caps and gowns marching in talking on cellphones.

Honorary Degrees were given to Neil Armstrong and Tracy Chapman. The girl who sang the National Anthem was awful. Why didn’t they have Tracy Chapman do it? Or even Neil Armstrong?

The commencement speaker was Walter Isaacson, a renowned journalist who wrote a book on Benjamin Franklin. The universities all try to one-up each other with their commencement speaker. Harvard's was Jesus Christ.

Next the various schools split off for the actual awarding of diplomas. The school of Engineering held their ceremony in the school gym. Annie noted the irony that not one of these engineers probably ever set foot in this gym in their entire four year stint. Neil Armstrong spoke, which was pretty cool. I was disappointed he didn't wear his helmet. He gave a "Go Nerds!" speech then left. First diplomas were awarded to PHD candidates. As they received their certificate the names of their theses were read off. Catchy titles like: "Micro-organism DNA research using Laplacian transistors for use in signal process for audio applications". In other words: these were the dateless.

Debby's family headed back to New York. My parents also went to Gotham for a visit. They asked me what shows to see. I recommended Neil Sedaka singing Yiddish favorites June 3rd at Carnegie Hall or the Blue Man Group.

All in all this was a memorable experience. And I'm sure Annie's graduation from Northwestern in four years will be just as fabulous. And hopefully warmer.

"Sweet Caroline....good times never felt so good...."

2 comments:

Chesher Cat said...

I went to Boston for one day just so I could go to Fenway. Pure magic. Then stayed overnight at the Buckminster Hotel. I swear those walls did talk.

Your 60s project sound interesting. I'm doing something similar in book form. It's 70s but some of the people in it were from the 60s. Check my blog if you have time.

Anonymous said...

Gotta love Medford.


- A