Sunday, July 25, 2004


I mean convention.

I live a few miles west of Boston and I work in a community hospital northwest of the city, right at the spot where a major interstate is going to shut down for security purposes at 4 pm each of the convention days. The hospital is right at the last open exit, and there have been nightmarish predictions of a whole interstateful of rush-hour traffic sluicing into an already congested small city center. There's been a general apocalyptic logistical fret afoot, and I'm sure some would like to retreat to a convent for the next four days rather than face the traffic mess.

I like having the convention in town. It represents the possibility of the end of the four year nightmare of the Bush administration. It represents the possibility of hav
ing a president who is intelligent, articulate, well- educated, capable of subtle analysis and nuanced thought, who has a long career in public service, and who has demonstrated both physical and moral courage. Instead of a snide mendacious frat boy Jesus-mongering puppet.


I'm sorry to relate that Boston has its own Bushian "free speech zone," a Gitmo-like pen make from chain-link and netting under a grody, rusting chunk of highway not yet demolished by the Big Dig. It's for protesters, and it's nowhere near the Convention Center and the delegates. It even flooded with water during yesterday's rainstorm. It's become a cliche to complain that the whole country is supposed to be a free speech zone.

I ran afoul of the law today myself, driving back from the Watertown limb of the Riverwalk where I'd been taking photos. I stopped in front of a small cinderblock building that has always visually intrigued me. It contains several businesses, including a restaurant supply warehouse that opens to the public a few days a week. The storefront is the antithesis of slick, even crude, and what's been catching my eye is a large, multipaned square window painted checkerboard red and black, the central pane partially smashed out, and the word G L A S S W A R E crudely stenciled in black paint above it. So today I stopped and took a picture of it.

As I started to pull out of the parking lot, a cruiser pulled up beside me and the officer gestured for me to stop. Oh oh. I was just a few blocks from the Raytheon skyboxes. What if I'd been caught shooting those ?

I rolled down my window as the young officer approached my car. He apologized politely. Said he'd noticed me take a picture. Asked me would I mind telling him what I was doing. Well, yes, I did sort of mind, but I kept that part to myself. I told him how I thought the checkerboard, broken window and the stenciled sign were interesting so I'd stopped to take a photo.

"That's what I thought," he said, and apologized again.

I suppose I do fit the profile of an anarchist, with my graying hair, wire- rimmed glasses, Hawaiian shirt, paint-stained blue jeans and vegan, black Chuck Taylor low cut All-Stars. I was listening to Ralph Vaughn Williams, too.

Does it get any more subversive than that ?

No comments: