With a beach season approaching in which most people will be squeezing quarters till the eagles fart, it's fair enough to ask aloud, "Is this going to be the worst summer ever?" No cash for entertainment, for food, for gear. For partying. For booze. And, depending on how the oil emirs are feeling when they wake up, no dough for gas.
But wait, can't fantasies come true? Wouldn't it be radical if, similar to the $787 billion economic-stimulus package he created to bolster our flagging economy, Barack Obama imagineered a summer-fun stimulus package to shore up our sagging spirits? What if He, in His infinite wisdom, bestowed upon us (and by "us," let's say he means "Boston," generally speaking), fat knots of cash so we can, metaphorically, build hotels on Baltic Avenue?
Sadly, Obama is more likely to align himself politically with the other, less-animated Husseinbefore we see any federal coin fall into our party fund. But we can at least imagine what it would be like. Here, then, are 10 sectors where the Phoenix wishes government largesse would pump Prozac directly into our depressed pockets. And since we don't expect our hopes to materialize soon, we also have advice on how to self-subsidize until the recreational gravy train arrives.
1) FREE EATS
In a more utopian America, we would all be invited to the White House, in small groups, for pizza in the Rose Garden. Sure, it's great that some taxpayers will receive $400 checks, but sharing a large sausage pie with the Obamas would make most adults giddier than kids at Chuck E. Cheese.
Since there will be no gratis pepperoni party until we clear the red, a reliable alternative is to frequent church and ministry suppers around Boston — from BU Catholic Center spaghetti dinners to delectable Caribbean spreads at the stadium churches on Blue Hill Avenue. In particular, we recommend the twice-weekly ISKCON Hare Krishna vegetarian feasts in Back Bay (72 Comm Ave, Boston). Once inside, you can either pretend like you're interested in their traditions or treat everyone like pond scum and watch them pray for your polluted soul.
2) FREE BEATS
Instead of further deregulating radio and allowing conglomerates to horde as many concert venues as possible, the feds should protect independent clubs and eclectic frequencies. Still, there's plenty out there for music fans who ball on tight budgets.
Hip-hop heads can nod at the UndergroundHipHop.com retail shop (234 Huntington Avenue, Boston), where Ghostface Killah and Immortal Technique are among the MCs who have rocked in-store performances. For a fuller free-concert experience, surf the tailgating scene at the Comcast Center parking lots in Mansfield. Just make sure to pick a show with worthwhile corresponding attractions: drunken brawls before Dropkick Murphys (June 16), rich middle-aged white guys with stocked coolers at Jimmy Buffett (June 25 and 27), and Tupperware parties for the lead-up to Coldplay (August 3).
3) FREE SEATS
Since this isn't New York City (where the mayor helped build not one but two new ballparks that, from the number of empty seats seen so far, will need to give away scads of free tickets just to fill up), Bostonians have to be a tad creative when in search of affordable sporting events. You could, of course, arbitrarily choose to become the die-hard fan of some youth traveling team. But from where we sit, we imagine that a lot of the kids' parents wouldn't exactly 2-4-6-8-appreciate your support — particularly if you're sporting non-ironic Members Only jackets and watching the games through binoculars while hiding behind large oak trees.
Instead, why don't you check out the intense weekend-afternoon soccer games in Dorchester, Somerville, and Southie? (Just show up whenever — they'll be there.) Or bring a blanket to the public matches at Myopia Polo Club (435 Bay Road, South Hamilton), where there's a strict bring-your-own-malt-liquor policy.
4) FREE UNIQUE
Though there's no sign of a 21st-century Works Progress Administration project jump-starting artisan careers, it appears that the new president is more interested in broadening America's cultural horizons than his predecessor (whose dinner-party guest list featured such distinguished creative minds as Kenny Chesney). This past month, the Obamas even held a poetry jam in the East Room.
As we wait out a stimulus addendum for the arts, there are ways to have a colorful summer. Two of Boston's finest museums are free on weekday nights: hit the Museum of Fine Arts (465 Huntington Avenue, Boston) on Wednesdays from 4 to 9:45 pm, then stroll over to the waterfront Institute of Contemporary Art (100 Northern Avenue, Boston) on Thursdays from 5 to 9 pm. For those who'd rather ramble, explore a warren of galleries and fill up on complimentary Dixie cups of wine at the SoWa Artists Guild's First Fridays in the South End (450 Harrison Avenue, Boston). And don't forget the sculpture path at Forest Hills Cemetery (95 Forest Hills Avenue, Jamaica Plain), where all you need to pay is your respects.