Bad Boston

By PHOENIX STAFF  |  January 17, 2007

Chain reign
Nothing screams “We’re a world class city with urban flair” like hundreds of Starbucks, McDonalds, and Barnes & Nobles. Unfortunately, the city seems hell bent on filling every open space with chain stores, depriving us of locally reinvested tax dollars, purchasing variety, and, oh yeah, culture.

It doesn’t have to be this way. Other cities, like San Francisco, have enacted policies to restrict the number of chain stores that invade their streets and threaten homegrown mom-and-pops. But, nope, not Boston. The Boston Redevelopment Authority (BRA) runs this town with Mayor Menino in its fat pocket. And by handing city-planning and private-development functions to one agency, there’s all kind of opportunity for mischief.

Your best chance at stopping CHAIN-STORE INTRUSION is to show up at an empty city-planning committee and watch your valid complaints ignored. Plus, the BRA refuses to keep statistics on the retail make-up of our city. So even if you do attend one of those greenlight-and-subsidize-any-mulition-million-dollar-formula-company extravaganzas, you won’t have the stats you need to make your case.

Way to go, Boston. Would it hurt you so much to at least keep track of who’s buying up our real estate — and for what purposes?

Morose minutes
Happy Hour in Boston: it’s the saddest hour of the day. When we think of the blissful afterwork hours, we imagine two-fer-one margaritas and cheap pints of beer. But sooner or later, those damned moralists come along and crush our dreams with their chants of “Booze is bad!” Thanks to them and their outdated laws, the only HAPPY-HOUR DISCOUNTS you’ll find in this city are half-price chicken wings and specials on spinach dip. We’re all about cheap food, but let’s get serious: how are Bostonians expected to unwind without their discounted, high-proof friends Jack, Jim, and Glen?

Living in Boston while black: Believe it or not, a color line still divides our city
Notoriously segregated Boston just experienced what may have been its most integrated social event ever: Deval Patrick’s inaugural ball at the new convention center in South Boston. It was everything we’d like to think our smart, liberal, educated city is at heart: people of different races gathered together, having fun, equal and friendly.

It was a lovely exception, but the rule has not changed much. Boston is still strictly segregated, and what’s bad for White Boston is inevitably worse for Black Boston.

Those who deny the existence of two Bostons can meet me at the corner of Norfolk Street and Morton Avenue, in Dorchester, and we’ll walk in any direction you want until we’ve spotted three white people who aren’t wearing uniforms. I promise you, it will be a long outing.

Boston and its environs are filled with thousands of professional- and working-class African-Americans, most of whom truly love the city. But they say the city grinds them down in all types of extra ways.

You think cabs are a pain for you? Drivers often won’t stop for black Bostonians, assuming they’ll be heading into one of the neighborhoods where cabs don’t like to go. And try getting a taxi to pick you up at an address near Upham’s Corner: you’ve got to be joking.

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  Topics: Lifestyle Features , Deval Patrick, Politics, Boston Redevelopment Authority,  More more >
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