Archive for the ‘Wellesley’ Category

Twice Favored by the MBTA

March 25th, 2011

Harrumphing aside, and despite what my sons might say, I am capable of praise as well. On this week’s zoom in and out of NYC, the Boston T met its skeds and delivered me on time to and from the farthest reaches of this city.

Cynicism would note that I have been reduced to cheering this lumbering, sputtering, bureaucratic service for doing its job. Indeed, there are many reasons why I prefer going by bicycle in the great wheel and on its spokes from Winchester to Wellesley to Stoughton. It takes less time for me to bike from the bottom of Hyde Park to Davis Square for example than to drive or depend on bus/trolley/subway combos. Of course, as a skinflint, I delight in it being far cheaper.

Ah, though on pre-dawn Wednesday, the scant and silly Fairmount commuter rail options worked perfectly and on Thursday night, the equally spare and precise hourly buses from Ashmont to home dovetailed exactly with the Red Line from South Station. Perfecto.

The grousing on Universal Hub of late for delayed, cancelled, vomit-splattered trains, and those with surly staff is understandable. We have a fair mass transit permeation here. So many of us are carless or choose not to pay for commuting, shopping and hitting shows and shops in parking, time and space seeking that we are virtually captive to the T.

Regular readers here and at Marry in Massachusetts know I eagerly await the Purple Line. We can skip or slide the half mile from the top of Fairmount Hill in the bottom left of Boston to the often dilator commuter rail. Its sked is plain silly, with only a few morning runs into town, no weekend service, and a mere two evening returns from South Station — 7:30 and 9:40 — totally in the wrong times to see a show or have a decent meal.

The new sked supposedly within a year will give some choices to the tens of thousands of largely middle class and poor, many of color, who are far from the Orange and Red Lines and who have heard and seen the rare commuter trains roll over and through their neighborhoods with no stations and no service. Also, there’s a fair chance the fare will finally drop from $4.25 to a subway $1.70/$2. That’s fair fare for areas in Boston when many farther stops North and West have long been the subway cost.

Enough carping. Let me note that the T did me right:

  • The 5:51 a.m. arrived at 5:51 at Fairmount and hummed me into South Station in plenty of time to bolt on Bolt for Manhattan.
  • As a bonus, three of us guys got driver Dan who looked and sounded like an off-season Santa, who named our ride the Ship of Good Cheer, who took pictures of us, and who was highly skilled even in the narrow chute of the Midtown tunnel.
  • On the return, traffic in the Bronx into Connecticut had us running behind. Many fretting teens with texting thumb tics whined into their iPhones as did the inane middle-aged guys, constantly updating their families at length about nothing of action — their exit or whether they had the right cell number to call in four hours when they arrived in Boston. Blah, blah, drone. These folk must also need nightlights.
  • We arrived at South Station at 8:33 p.m. and the hourly bus from Ashmont left for my house in 27 minutes. Miss it and the half-hour ride to within 100 feet of my front door would turn into three times that, either with a Red to Orange Line, then a 32 bus to Cleary Square and a 15 minute, mile-plus walk, or waiting for the Mattapan trolley and likely walking the two plus miles in the dark up the wet road. Worse can happen, but those are not what I would seek. The option would be the kill an hour in or near South Station and take the last Fairmount train.
  • Instead, I hustled like squirrel in front of a feral cat. I galumphed the many station stairs, skirted the Atlantic Avenue side, and careered three floors down to the outbound Red Line. Within three minutes, the Ashmont train arrived and made good time to its terminus.
  • Both the South Station platform and the bus shelter on the other end were full of passengers. My trip was fully orchestrated as though all awaited me.
  • The 24/27 bus was nearly full. It is an hourly show after all. I arrived at figurative curtain time, took a seat and enjoyed the brief play. Even the passengers getting on covered with huge snowflakes seemed cast in a musical about Boston in winter.

Praise to the T…and to fortuitous timing. I appreciated jolly Dan on the ride down as well. Mass transit and cheap buses worked wonderfully. May all of my and all of your commutes and special trips be so blessed.

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Black Womanhood Show Worth Extended Visit

October 26th, 2008

Go West. young aesthete — at least as far as Wellesley.  I’ve been to their past several main exhibits at the Davis Museum and heartily recommend the current Black Womanhood: Images, Icons and Ideologies of the African Body. Getting there and particularly hitting their sked is a bit of a pain, but worth it.

Factoids:

  • It runs another seven weeks, through December 14th.
  • Davis has idle homemaker’s hours —  Sunday, noon to 4; Monday, closed; Tuesday through Saturday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Wednesday evening until 8 p.m.
  • It’s tucked West of the town center, requires a quick eye to locate, but does have some free parking.
  • The museum is free.
  • The show came from Dartmouth, whose museum offers a flier on it here and here.
  • It is suitable for families. There are National Geographic level bare breasts, but nothing violent or lewd.

Don’t get too distracted by the little joke of a school for rich, white, American women hosting such a show. Like Davis’ other shows, this one is solid and worth the trip.

Its defects are few and forgivable. First, the organizers were cautious, overly so, in avoiding political commentary or even stating the obvious racism in many of the artifacts from colonial and later 20th Century periods. They seem to assume and probably accurately so that visitors can easily make those connections and draw those conclusions.

Second is something to take into account when you go. This is a scholarly show as well as highly visual. Whether it is a bride’s skirt she made to forecast her own life or posed stereotypes of erotic, exotic black women, the descriptive placards by nearly all objects are long, detailed and demanding.

I was glad to have read each description. They provided a perspective I did not have. For example, a number of the postcards and stills were an odd blend of dress, furniture, lighting and posing. The placards point how how the unelectrified sites required creating an outside studio, how the intended audiences needed to see Western couches and other furniture that the subjects did not possess or use, how various mixes of European and native costume served different marketing purposes, and how some women were posed in unnatural eroticism for the time as the other.

As I slogged down in the demands of the exhibit, I realized a good way to learn and enjoy. I suggest:

  • Start in the narrow room with the tribal artifacts and photos.
  • Pore over  the initiation objects, decorated vessels and then the images.
  • Read each description but do not spend too much time viewing the objects. The next description will drag you down.
  • Then do the same in the larger, well-lit room with the modern objects.
  • Loaded with the information, take a healthy break, like at the adjacent Collins Café (weekdays, until 2 p.m.)
  • Return to the exhibit to immerse yourself in the objects and images. Loaded with the contextual information, you can really enjoy those without interruption.

This is no oh-those-poor-ignorant-slave-women show. Instead, it provides art-based insight into the lives of African women in the 19th and 20th Centuries. It sets out examples of how they and their cultural groups viewed, dealt with and respected the women as powerful figures, brides and mothers. The respect for (or lack of it) for the African women’s bodies and beings  pervades the exhibit. It gently corrects numerous Western stereotypes.