Somerville, MA — Northeast Transcendence Achieved.
Last Night, in the Middle East and ZuZu Lounge, we weren’t in Boston. We were in Savannah, in North Carolina, back in the Deep South, back in America. It was the first day of the 2010 Manic American season and we fell right back into mid-season shape.
The plan was to hit three urban beaches in and around Boston — Revere, Southie’s Castle Island and Wollaston Beach in Quincy — and we hoped to be able to make them all. One half day, four T lines, two buses, and 12 or so miles walked later, and that was it — done, completed. Goals met and exceeded, and the lobster rolls at Tony’s Clam Shoppe were the icing on the cake. The drinks afterwards were the cutting and eating of the cake.
We started with an early wakeup call at 8 AM. Shower, edit the rough cut of the INFRASTRUCTURE at Connolly’s film, pack and out. Outside of the Magnificent Muffin Shop an off-duty cop and his lady-friend warned us to not end up in lock-up, or if we got into trouble, to run outside of his jurisdiction. He could tell.
We made it out to Revere around 11:30 and had our first run-in with the locals maybe 15 minutes later. We were shooting a new INFRAcard reenacting the Pepsi Man INFRAcard when the right-hand-man of the owner of the dive next door came out to stop us because the owner doesn’t like photographers. He asked where we were from. “Oh you’re from Somerville? Wait, what are you doing here from New York?!” Rob bonded with him, and he soon became less distrustful of me. We got away with a Vietnam shellshock reference and a heads-up to the fatboys patrolling the strip.
No one was sunbathing beside the restrooms like back in `09, but we did find a burnt Christmas tree on the sand and a rotting seagull corpse being tossed in the waves (our third Corpse Beach in a row, for those of you following along at home). If you’ve never been to Revere, plenty of hostile attitudes abound. There are also plenty of families playing on the sand and hot rods cruising the strip. There’s a reason why we kick off each season here.
Fried clam strips and buffalo chicken at Santorini, another run down the strip for photos and back on the T. Next stop — trek to Castle Island for Sullivan’s mini-hot dogs.
Of course we get off the T and the bus to Southie isn’t coming. Between the T fire at Park Street and a water main break destroying Boston’s drinking water supply, it wasn’t a red banner day for Boston public works. A twenty-minute, uphill climb through Southie later and we arrived at the approach to Castle Island. Dock machinery to the left, airplanes on their landing approach to Logan to the right, and we were on an INFRASTRUCTURE approach to a Manic destination.
At Sullivan’s, Rob overheard parents order their children away from me and my camera as he waited for his dog. The dogs were micro yet tasty, the fries plentiful and well-cooked, and the drinks frothy and good (a smoothie and shake, no beer yet — it was all hydrating beverages to prevent dehydration). A few fellow photographers, and the mega Lufthansa taking off and landing while we were there.
As our legs began to fail, we walked to the City Point Bus Stop — a four-lane parking lot, devoid of humans, and tracing a swath of pavement stuck between the yuppie housing of Southie and the fields of abandoned factories next to the yup-plexes. It took five buses coming through, but one finally picked us up and took us back to the T. Onward to Quincy. No doubts that the third stop would happen. Full or not, the clam-off was on: Santorini vs. Tony’s Clam Shoppe (not to be confused with Tony’s Clam Box mere yards away).
Quincy. Could have been North Carolina, Savannah or Vancouver. Quick stop into CVS for more Gatorade and we run into a bottled water scrum caused by people hoarding up water rather than boiling it out of their faucets. One water break and Boston turned into Chinatown. Suburban walk through the Nazarene community right to the beach. We get there and there’s the downtown skyline, with a couple families and a horde of tweens faux-fighting in the sand before us. Photo, photo, photo. I sit there just soaking in the moment, Rob works on long-shutter shots of the skyline, drawing in locals to check us out and talk photo-shop.
Tony’s. Menu takes up the whole side of the building: seafood cooked every way possible, Middle Eastern delights, drinks and ice cream. We got two lobster rolls, which end up containing the meat of about 3 lobsters. When eating them, we get the call from Chris — INFRA is now booked at the House of Blues in Boston… the jimmies on the top scoop of the ice cream cone that was the day.
Back to Somerville. Back out, into the night, full moon rising, and before we know it, we’ve left Boston and are back on the road. Back in America, back in the thick of things.
ManicAmerican.com, Season 6. It’s begun.
Essay by Dan Meade
Video & photos by Dan Meade & Rob Bellinger
Date of Trifecta: 5/02/10