Category Archives: Boston

Rumble at the Goodwill Book Sale

Later in my life, when I’m asked to reflect back on my time in Boston, I’ll remember exactly two things:

  1. The T was always late.
  2. People in Boston are ready to throw down anywhere at any time.

I see more arguments on an average day in Boston than I’d see in an entire year in the Midwest. Some of these altercations can be chalked up to population density (in the city center) or meth use (in my neighborhood). But others seem to spring from something embedded in the culture. What would earn you a silent grimace in Michigan lands you in a profanity-laced screaming contest in Massachusetts.

That’s not to say the Midwest is perfect, because God (and recent voting results) knows it’s not. But people there are, on the whole, less likely to become homicidally enraged because someone gave money to a homeless person outside Tedeschi.

 

But I digress. Sort of.

Let me tell you about a fight I saw at Goodwill. Continue reading

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Salem Witch Execution Site Found

Gallows Hill, Salem, 1861, Witch Trials

Never before have I dedicated a post to an article I didn’t write, but this one is right up my alley–probably up yours, too, if you read this blog regularly. The site where 19 victims were executed during the Salem witch trials has been confirmed. Here’s an excerpt from the Salem News article:

The Gallows Hill Project prepared a series of questions and answers explaining how they confirmed Proctor’s Ledge as the execution site for accused witches.

How did they pin down the site?

Marilynne Roach discovered a few key lines of eyewitness testimony in a Salem witch trials court record from Aug. 19, 1692. … The record quotes the defendant Rebecca Eames, who had been on her way to the court in the custody of her guards and traveled along the Boston Road, which ran just below the execution site.

A few hours later, she appeared the Salem court for her preliminary examination. The magistrate asked Eames whether she had witnessed the execution that took place earlier that morning as she was passing by. She explained that she was at “the house below the hill” and that she saw some “folks” at the execution. Roach determined that the “house below the hill” was most likely the McCarter House, or one of its neighbors on Boston Street. The McCarter house was still standing in 1890 at 19 Boston St.

 

Read the rest of the article here! (No, seriously, do it–it’s awesome.)

Uncanny Erratic: The Spooky Majesty of Agassiz Rock

1870s stereoview, Little Agassiz Rock

“Something weird happened here”–I wish there was a single word to describe that feeling, or a simple explanation of where it comes from. The scientific part of me wants to chalk it up to an eerie atmosphere combined with the unrivaled ability of the human imagination to spew spooky bullshit. The paranormal enthusiast part of me, meanwhile, wants to hide under the covers and spin theories about undocumented slaughters in antediluvian ages.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. Let’s look at some cool rocks.

Continue reading

Ruins in the Woods: The Abandoned Estate of Frederick Law Olmsted

An entrance gate to the one-time estate of architect Frederick Law Olmsted.

An entrance gate to the one-time home of architect Frederick Law Olmsted.

I can’t remember the name of the place, or even how we got there.

I realize that may dissatisfy some of my readers, but it’s the truth. I wasn’t paying much attention when I drove out to the woods with my cousin and her friend a few weeks ago. I didn’t know there was anything to pay attention to. As far as I’d been told, we were simply killing time by taking a stroll through a beautiful–but otherwise unremarkable–New England nature preserve.

It was only forty minutes into our walk that my cousin’s friend turned to me and asked: “Do you want to see the abandoned mansion?

Continue reading

From Witch City to Ghost Town

Patrick Dougherty, Sticksworks, Salem, Massachusetts

After the tourists leave, Salem’s witch shops try to make ends meet

(This feature article was originally written for a class. The names of people and places have been changed by request–I have no desire to piss off a witch!)

It’s the beginning of November, and Essex Street stands abandoned.

Three weeks ago, the pedestrian mall in downtown Salem was so crowded, it seemed half the world had converged on a single spot. The street’s paving bricks were obscured by the crush. Its t-shirt carts nearly foundered amid a flood of goths, New Agers, and drag queens. Like a black-and-orange beacon, the approach of Halloween had drawn together hundreds of refugees from the fringes of society. Their houses were in Newton, Beverly, or a dozen other suburbs scattered across the country. But during the month of October, Salem was their home. Continue reading

Back Bay Books: The 2015 Boston Book Festival

BBF

This post is the very definition of “long-overdue”–the 2015 BBF took place on October 24th, which scientific sources inform me was three and a half weeks ago. Never mind. I’m in grad school, so it’s a minor miracle when I’m able to post at all.

I went to the Boston Book Festival chiefly to get a feel for the small-press literary scene in Massachusetts. To that end, I bought a fat stack of local literary journals. Behold!

haul

Whether owning said journals will lead to future publishing success is anyone’s guess. When I lived in Michigan, I wound up publishing pieces with outfits based in Albany and Canada, so, you know. There’s not really a correlation between where you live and which periodicals accept you.

Anywho, here’s some other stuff I saw: Continue reading

Tales from the Charnel House: A Return to King’s Burying Ground

King's Burying Ground, Boston

I promised myself I’d give the graveyards a rest after this post. And this one. And this one. But something happened to me at King’s Burying Ground this past weekend that was so exciting, I’m still shaking. Anyway, I’m entitled to post about spooky stuff all I want–it’s Halloween month, damn it!

It was Saturday night, and some friends of mine were in town. I was giving them a tour of Boston’s historic Freedom Trail. King’s Burying Ground–which, as you’ll recall, is Boston’s oldest cemetery–is situated toward the beginning of said trail, and we were walking past it when I noticed something strange.

It was a man. He was strolling idly behind the locked cemetery gates. And he was dressed as a ghost. Continue reading