This week’s adventures take a slight turn as Long and I parted company over the weekend. She had a concert to do, and I was charged with flying to Boston to facilitate getting my godson Max ensconced in a music camp hosted at the New England Conservatory. I was sorry to miss Long’s gig, and I was equally sorry she couldn’t come with me as though we have both visited this fabulous Massachusetts town we have not done so together. Should we ever have the chance to make such a trip I know I will have to be on my toes. Long is a voice professional by trade with a self professed weakness for Southie accents. I am fairly certain without a strict eye and careful chaperoning she would wind up betrothed to a toothless bus driver within moments of arriving in town.
I love Boston for a number of reasons. It is beautiful and compact, and has all the amenities of a big city with the accessibility of a small town. You can walk everywhere, and their old-but-effecient transit system will deliver you anywhere more far flung. As there are over 35 colleges in the greater Boston area (including gold standard institutions like Harvard. MIT, Boston University & Berklee College of Music) the place has a youthful intelligence that steeps the culture.
My schedule was pretty loose. Max was arriving at 5:00 on Saturday and needed to be checked in at this school by 11:00 Sunday morning. I flew in early Saturday and out late on Sunday so had plenty of time to play on my own. Having been there before I knew where I wanted to hit first. In the first 30 minutes I was parked at a table at James Hook eating a lobster roll and double stuffed scallop. I love this place – it it a family run joint that has been around since 1925. They sell fresh caught seafood and shell fish from a trailer in a parking lot under an underpass, and their prepared food counter features fantastic food. Nothing fancy, just the basics, but authentic and delicious.
In the second 30 minute interval I was cruising for shoes at DSW and scored a great pair of sandals for $20 from the clearance racks.
In the third 30 minute instalment I was at Nordstrom Rack where I resisted the urge to buy a pair of United Nude boots (regularly $450 USD, marked down to $75). Rarely have I shown such restraint.
I checked in to the Colonnade Hotel and went to check out their delightful rooftop pool, which was absolutely packed so I sat in the sun for a bit before heading back to the airport to pick up my charge.
This is Max.
He is 17, the son of my high school friend Anny and her husband Don. He lives in Beverly Hills and is a very talented bass player. About to enter his last year in high school he is currently considering his college options. I have known him since he was about 10 and it has been fascinating to watch his story arc develop. Max and I get along very well, largely because of our common love for music (which has been my career for my entire adult life and seems to be his future) and also because as I have had very little exposure to kids I do not treat him like a child, and he doesn’t treat me like an adult. After we met at the airport we spent some time walking around Boston, had a nice dinner at Bistro du Midi on Boston Common and talked in to the night about our lives. He is an astute person – aware of his own limitations, eager for new experiences and understanding the the next few years are going to expand and shape him in ways he can only begin to understand. I think he was excited to get a feel for the city and we walked around after breakfast as well before I dropped him at the school.
After releasing Max to the gods of higher jazz education I wandered up to the Museum of Fine Arts.
I was in the line for tickets, primed and ready to go when I had second thoughts. It was a spectacular day, I had visited the museum on my last visit, and I thought my time could be better spent frankly doing bugger all and checking out the city.
I turned on my heel and meandered over to Newbury Street via Bodega which is without a doubt the coolest shoe store I have ever been in. The outside looks like a normal corner grocery, the inside is tiny and grotty and you gain entrance to the store itself by passing through a sliding door disguised as a pop machine. The store itself is staffed entirely by people who look like the band members of LMFAO and oft times there are DJs spinning in the store on weekends.
Again, I resisted the urge to add to my shoe collection and headed out, pausing for sustenance and window-shopping. I eventually found myself a spot under a tree by the pond in the Boston Public Garden where I read my book and watched the world go by.
After a few leisurely hours exploring the downtown I grabbed a single seat at the bar at Neptune Oyster for a final meal and stuffed myself to bursting on clam chowder and lobster and chorizo tacos. I should really have had one or the other but wanted to try everything I could before I flew home.
It was a fantastic weekend. I got to visit a city I like very much, I bought shoes, I stuffed myself with fine food and I got to reconnect with Max who has become a thoughtful intelligent man (albeit absolutely independently from any influence that I may have had, though I plan on taking credit for it anyway).