The DougBlog
"Et sans savoir pourquoi, disent toujours: Allons!" —Baudelaire

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Beantown, 2006

Yes, I know, it's been a while. My computer died, leaving me with little internet access and unable to access recent pictures for blog entries about my trips to Miami and the GLAAD Media Awards. Hopefully it can be fixed, and then I'll backtrack. But for now, it's off to Boston....

For those of you who may not know or remember (or even care), I went to BU undergrad and graduate school. It’s where I got both my Bachelor’s Degree (major in English, minors in French and Classical Civilization) and my Master’s (World Literature). It was more or less a good time. I made good friends (some of whom are still an important part of my life) and Boston was a fun place to live and go to school. So when I recently had to come to on business, I took the opportunity to walk down memory lane…otherwise known as Comm Ave.

Some things are so different. There are entire new buildings, and many businesses have changed over. Everyone has laptops and cell phones now (when I was a student, I don’t think they’d even discovered the human cell yet). And everyone is so young. Was I really that young in college? We all thought we were so grown up. And I like to think that I am still more or less college age now. But guess what: I'm not. I’m OLD.

On the other hand, some things are eerily unchanged. There are times when I half expected my friends to come along and head off to class, as though the last 12 years of my life (God, has it really been that long?!) were just one weird, Dallas-esque dream.

In any event, here are some pix of Boston and BU. Some of these may be less appreciated by those of you who are not BU alumni, but…

Trinity Church on the left, I. M. Pei’s cool Hancock Tower on the right, and some Bostonians out enjoying the first warm day of spring in Copley Square. If they look relaxed, it’s because the windows of the Hancock Tower have stopped popping out and killing people (as always, you can click on any picture to enlarge it):

The Boston Public Library:

Aww…it’s nice to see that the Sweet-n-Nasty erotic bakery is still in business (“I thought that cake was in the shape of Florida!” –Rose Nylund):

The famed Citgo sign, recognizable to anyone who watches the Red Sox (it is clearly and intentionally visible from neighboring Fenway). It’s on top of the BU Bookstore, where they once had cat treats—normally priced at $1.00—on sale for ONLY 99 CENTS! Don’t scoff…if you bought 99 of them, it would be like getting one for free!:

This used to be Videosmith, the local video rental place. It's famous because of the time my friend Janét borrowed a Videosmith rental card from a friend of ours. She tried to use it, telling the clerk that he was her boyfriend and that he had loaned her the card to rent a movie. When the clerk swiped it, they both discovered that her “boyfriend” had copious late fees…for gay porn titles. Not sure who was more embarrassed:

WARREN TOWERS: Two words that resound in the soul of any BU alumnus. The largest non-military dorm in the country with nearly 2000 students—mostly freshmen—it’s appropriately nicknamed “The Zoo”. This is a place that you love to hate, and hate to...well, you just hate it. But it was a rite of passage. So many things lent to its charm…the prison-like, cinderblock interior…the paper-thin walls…the filthy shared bathrooms with occasional hot water…the windows that leaked every time it rained…the false fire alarms that forced you from your bed into a frigid Boston winter’s night at 3AM…and let’s not forget the infamous poison gas leak. Oh, the poison gas leak! Good times, good times:

In the main floor of Warren Towers, “Taco Smell”—where you might go to eat if you ran out of meal points or just wanted to splurge—is still going strong!:

“City Convenience” my ass. This place used to be called “Campus Convenience”. Actually, we called it “Campus Rip-Off” because a package of Ramen noodles cost $3:

The three-towered building on the right is Myles Standish Hall, where I lived my Junior year. He was a very short and ill-tempered Pilgrim. Picture Danny DeVito with a funny hat:

Shelton Hall, where I lived Sophomore year. Before it was a dorm, it was the Shelton Hotel. And before that, it was one of the first ever Sheraton Hotels. The story goes that, when Sheraton sold it, the new owners called it the Shelton because they didn’t want to change the monogrammed towels:

Bay State Road, the only attractive part of what passes for the BU “campus”. These brownstones are about half offices and half dorms—which are almost impossible to get into. I myself was rejected by the Maison Français. I should have put up a better fight…they’d have surrendered real easy (hey-o!…Je suis désolé, Celine...pardonnes-moi!):

This is the new Hillel House that opened last year. The old one was a craphole. It may be different now, but in my heart Wednesday will always be dairy day…:

The beautiful BU Castle. They show it to you on every tour like it’s the center of campus life…but in 4 years I never even got inside it once:

Ye Olde English Department, where I passed many an hour in grad school debating the relevance of Ibsen, the reach of existentialism, and stealing toilet paper:

That’s Morse Auditorium on the left and COM (the School of Communications) on the right. We pretty much invented karaoke in Morse, which was never locked at night and where the audio system was always left on. There’s a fountain in front of COM into which mischievous students would occasionally pour shampoo, making it bubble over. Ah, youth:

By the way, yes—that’s The “T” (the Boston subway) that runs above ground and right across the campus. Convenient, yes, but noisy—and it killed at least one student per year. Good times, good times.

Tsai Performance Center, where my singing career began (and ended, all at once):

The Dugout is the only on-campus bar at BU, and it’s a dump. We always tried to class it up by calling it “le du-geau”:

CLA, the College of Liberal Arts, where I went…though now it’s called CAS, the College of Arts and Sciences. Yes, everything at BU is known by a three-letter acronym. Any BU student or alum knows the difference between CLA, CAS, COM, SFA, GSU, SED, GAS, MUG, CBS, MET, SMG, STH, and the dreaded 880…:

Marsh Plaza. The sculpture in the middle honors one of BU’s more famous alumni, Dr. Martin Luther King (it’s where he got that “Dr” in his name). Note the kids who are frolicking with a Frisbee. We would occasionally go Frisbee frolicking, not so much because we liked it, but because we felt compelled—that’s what students always seemed to be doing on college brochures:

Entrance to Mugar, the main library at BU:

GSU, the George Sherman Student Union. When I was there, you had your choice of school food or Burger King. Now there’s all kinds of good stuff, including a Starbucks and a Jamba Juice! Then again, how many college students can afford a $6 cup of coffee?:

One of my proudest college accomplishments was directing a production of Tennessee Williams’ Suddenly, Last Summer…and this is where it all happened (riveting, I know):

The Campus Trolley, good for a quick falafel between classes. Sadly it doesn’t actually move, and they yell at you if you ring the bell:

This the one and only sizeable strip of grass on campus, between a parking lot and the highway. It’s affectionately known as “BU Beach” because it offers a view of the Charles River:

The lovely BU Boathouse:

A sunny day on the Charles:

Check out this fashion-challenged crew of geeks! These are all of the professors who have won the annual Metcalf Award, a student-nominated prize for excellence in teaching. I had two of these professors, including Celia Millward (center in the bottom row), my all-time favorite professor. I went to say hi to her only to learn that shortly after I graduated, she was diagnosed with an aggressive form of cancer and died within months. Sad. This is the woman who (literally) wrote the book on the history of the English language, and had so many great stories from a life well lived. Example: when teaching us about Scottish dialects, she illustrated it with a story from her own time there. Queen Elizabeth’s motorcade was coming through a small town in Scotland, and the people had lined the streets to catch a glimpse. Mrs. Millward saw an adorable little girl in pig-tails and a little tartan dress standing nearby, waving a small British flag in her hand. Enchanted, Mrs. Millward said to her “My, I’ll bet you’re very excited to see the Queen!” The little girl looked up at her and replied, in a strong Scottish brogue, “Yeah, it’s fuckin’ brilliant!”

So was Mrs. Millward. Rest in peace.

The last day, a low, San Francisco-like fog covered the city. Here's a cool shot of the Hancock Tower eerily disappearing into it:

And finally, a few night shots of Boston from my hotel:

So what's next? Well, this Friday I'm off for my first ski trip to Colorado. Yep, that's right. I'm gonna die. But if I don't, it should be pretty entertaining...and I'll try to post some stuff (if I can still type in the body cast)...


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