The intersection of Brookline Avenue and Lansdowne Street, in the hours before, during, and after a Red Sox game, is not unlike a trading floor on pre-crash Wall Street: it’s chaotic, teeming with people, and everyone’s trying to make a buck. Scalpers aggressively push tickets; vendors hawk T-shirts, programs, and meat products. For a pedestrian weaving through swarms of such in-your-face salesmen and pulsating, beer-fueled Fenway faithful, it can be overwhelming.
Curious, then — suspicious, even — is the leprechaun-looking man approaching passers-by from his post (a beat-up, neon-green canvas chair placed in front of the Sausage Guy’s cart), saying he wants nothing but to take their photo. (He posts the shots on the multiple albums he keeps on his MySpace page.) On a chilly, gray Monday night outside Fenway, just before the Sox threw out the first pitch of a game against the Cleveland Indians — and the day before Boston clinched a playoff berth — the man waves his small, silver digital camera, and asks an approaching couple: “Can I take your picture?” They hesitate, as though considering his offer (perhaps they’re simply considering eating sausage). Eventually, the round, white-haired woman shakes her head firmly as they walk away. “We’re from Cleveland!” she protests.
The wandering photographer is David Allen Millette, a 52-year-old Middleboro native who calls himself “the Mayor of Lansdowne Street.” In 1995, Millette called it quits on Boston’s brutal winters and escaped to Florida to live in an RV near various beaches. For the past 13 years, however, he’s returned for Red Sox season. While he may be the very definition of a fair-weather friend to Boston, he’s thick-and-thin for its baseball team, and his vehicle — which also doubles as his living space — is a testament to that.
It’s a 1980 Dodge Xplorer RV, the fifth camper he’s owned, and the first that’s become a mobile artistic homage to Boston’s baseball nine. Stickers reading things like IS IT 7:05 YET? collide and overlap on its bumper. Inside, Red Sox flags and blankets are draped neatly across the couches and doorway, and a plastic packet hangs from the windshield, safely protecting tickets from every game Millette’s attended in the past three years (as well as a Ted Williams baseball card he’s had since he was a kid).
A friend helped Millette find the RV in a small town in rural New York in March. Impressed with its cyclopean size (“It’s like a spaceship, almost!”) and its only-used-for-the-occasional-road-trip condition, he bargained with the seller, and bought it for $4500 — a bargain at roughly the equivalent of one Manny Ramirez at bat.
Since then, he’s transformed it into the “Rolling Green Monster,” an unofficial Red Sox mascot, and a conspicuous, hulking Kenmore presence. Millette meticulously painted the Xplorer with a shade best described as “Green Monster,” then emblazoned its moniker on the front and rear in dripping red letters (“Because we bleed red!” he explains, a semi-well-known Sox-fan expression). A neatly drawn scoreboard occupies the passenger side of the vehicle, celebrating a Sox home victory over the reviled Yankees. In the corner above the scoreboard, Millette has stenciled a date: “8/19/04.”