The past few months have seen many highs, and just as many lows, for the people of Boston. For every great moment, there has been a terrible one. For each evening spent in revelry, there has been a morning after spent woefully shaking our heads.
First, there were the Red…
No, wait – not really. Actually, first there was John Kerry. Somehow, he had survived the nasty in-fighting of the primary season and made it to the national candidacy. Better still, we got to celebrate that great moment here in Boston with our own riot-free DNC. Sure, they kept the dissenters in a cage and Mayor Menino faced down yet another police strike, but in the end our very own liberal Massachusetts liberal liberal Democrat made it into the race.
Perhaps ‘liberal’ is too strong a word. Or, perhaps facing an opponent so far to the right made him weak, forced him to the center, stripped him of the Massachusetts on his liberal lunch-ticket. Who can say, really?
Then, there were the Red…
Well, not yet. Actually, there were the Patriots. God it feels good to call our hometown team Patriots, and to remind ourselves of the origins of our Democracy, and how much this ideology has weathered over the years. It gives hope that our country may find its way back to a true voice of the people, devoid of religious or financial pressures influencing the decisions that affect millions of lives.
But I’m preaching.
The Patriots have only lost one game in the last twenty-three. That’s an amazing feat, something to be proud of – like, say, being the state that produced JFK, John Kerry, Mike Dukakis, Bobby Kennedy, and so many more great figures.
Why, you are probably asking, are the Pats before the Sox? Wasn’t there some curse broken, some great 86-year-old need fulfilled in the guts of Bostonians?
Sure. But the Pats started their winning streak a long time ago, before a Super Bowl win, before breaking an NFL record, and eleven games of Baseball cannot top two Super Bowl wins in three years, nor a full season of games without a loss.
But that’s not the point.
Ok, there were some good Red Sox moments.
First, they faced down the Yankees (also affectionately known as the Evil Empire) to win the ALCS and claim their place as “The Second Most Expensive Team In Baseball” – a title seemed almost ‘underdog’-ish as they faced Jeter, A-Rod and the crew but later felt garish and overstated as they beat the hell out of that other team (was it the Cardinals?) to win the actual prize: The World Series.
Great. Things burn in Kenmore Square. A girl dies at the hands of the police force sent specifically to protect the young girls of the world from riotous drunken fans. Perhaps the most illustrative moment came as Curt Shilling, a man who has devoted his whole life to playing a game, asked the fans to please ‘grow up’.
Why are these words of encouragement for Boston? What does any of this have to do with the mandate of Big RED and Shiny?
It is a great time to be from Massachusetts. Remember when you met ‘that guy’ from New York, with his cocky attitude and endless name-dropping? Well, he can’t claim to be from Boston. Our arts scene may be small, but it’s thriving and energetic. Our politics may lean to the left, but George Bush has never hurled the phrase “New York Liberal” as an insult.
For the last few months, Massachusetts has been at the center of it all, the place where politics and sports and culture collide to create something new and amazing in this country. We can be proud of Boston and its old-fashioned ways (if you consider the sheer gall of The Boston Tea-Party ‘old fashioned’). And most importantly, as artists, we live in the heart of social change in America, and as mirrors of our culture we stand ready to become the voices that define, document and declare the continuing face of Democracy. To be in Boston in 2004 is much the same as being in Boston in 1774 – the whole world has been watching and waiting.
And at the end of the day, should we all start feeling too complacent and ready to act the part of sore-winners, there is always a case for conjuring a Cam Neely or Larry Bird curse that needs to be broken some 86 years away. Hope comes from strange places, but for these past months we can find satisfaction in having been the center of attention. Before it fades, lets be sure to make it mean something.