That would be Boston magazine writer-at-large Joe Keohane, who's departing both the city and the publication.
There's a certain wistful acceptance that comes along with leaving
town. You've recognized that you can't change it. It is, ineffaceably,
what it is: a nice place for college students and twentysomethings for
whom there's a kind of contentment in being broke and raising hell in
hallway parties in Allston, and for well-heeled people who are older
and looking for a quieter and more comfortable existence.
the makings of a vibrant arts scene lie between those two worlds, with
people who are able to do creative work and still stay in the city long
enough to forge a commitment to it....
ambivalence is as old as the town itself. Boston is famous for its
strange ability to simultaneously attract and repel. Jonathan Richman
of legendary Boston band the Modern Lovers once sang, "I'm in love with
Massachusetts." Now he lives in San Francisco. Dicky Barrett of the
Mighty Mighty Bosstones, a ferociously local band, wrote an
anti-tourist, anti-student song called "They Came to Boston," with the
refrain "I was here before they came / I'll be here long after / Don't
want to share, but it seems clear / that I'm gonna have to." Today he
lives in L.A. Andrew Bujalski, the terrific young filmmaker who never
missed an opportunity to sing the Hub's praises, has decamped to
Austin, Texas (though he says it was personal circumstances that sent
him packing). Going further back, novelist William Dean Howells, the
"Dean of American Letters," was a hard-core Hub loyalist who once
decreed, "The Bostonian who leaves Boston ought to be condemned to
perpetual exile." He relocated to New York in 1891, and had one of his
characters, making a similar move, liken Boston to a living death.
course, the irony is that Howells wound up not caring much for NYC,
either, and spent a lot of time looking longingly back at Boston, as
many who have followed in his footsteps do, and will continue to do
indefinitely, or at least until rents get cheap enough to again tilt
the balance away from our native reserve and standoffishness long
enough for an arts scene to cohere, as it did in the '80s and early
'90s in a big way. And that's the great frustration. This city has the
makings of a dominant cultural force: physical beauty, compact size,
reliable institutions, a constant inflow of new blood, and the kind of
cruel and capricious weather that drives artistically minded residents
inward for long stretches, making self-reflection a fixture of life, or
anyway surely less of a horror than it would be in Southern California.
We're just unable to make it all come together.
Good stuff, and difficult to replace.