July 8, 2009

Independence Day in Boston

We finally got some decent weather in Boston for Independence Day. After weeks of overcast and rain, the sun finally came out and the temperature reached into the upper 70’s. (That is mid 20’s for you in Europe.) I deemed it ‘get out of the house day’ in celebration. I am one who enjoys wandering around the city or taking a long drive on a Sunday afternoon. Neither the boy nor Mrs. is fond of either activity, the boy would rather play video games and the Mrs. would rather bead or read.

Boston does a big celebration for the 4th in and around the Quincy Market area, with music and other events. Thousands of people attend, primarily tourists but a good many locals as well. I enjoy the event, as much for the people watching as anything. Some negotiations ensued, and Mrs. begged off claiming that she hated crowds and had to clean her office. The boy had no such negotiation point, having spent several hours already playing video games. So around noon we grabbed out subway passes and headed down to the station. On route we stopped and chatted with a couple of other neighbors who were out also enjoying the summer weather and the holiday.

Hopping on the T we arrived to a Quincy Market teaming with hordes of people as expected. One of the more enduring fixtures of the area is the street performers. Most of them fall into the juggling / magic act format with a fair amount of snappy patter tossed in to keep the audience interested. The acts of this sort all tend to blend into one another after a while, but that doesn’t mean that they aren’t entertaining. I enjoy seeing the variations they the try to put in their acts to make them stand out. The big theme this year seemed to be about Gaining height to be able to be seen over the heads of the crowds. We saw two acts working on straight ladders, and another act, a pair of local twin boys who are masters of the Diablo, perform with one standing on the others shoulders. A Divine Street Performer?
That alone is worth the price of admission. Their mastery of the Diablo is pretty amazing as well. We didn’t watch the street acrobats this time. They do a hip-hop break dance routine with lots of tumbling thrown in, it is pretty amazing but the boy decided that he had a mission in mind and didn’t want to stop.

One of the street performers we watched. (Not my video. )

The boy decided that he had to visit his favorite store, Newbury Comics, a local purveyor of pop culture. You can read that as music, videos, comic books action figures and other trinkets. (Actually I used a visit to the store as a bribe to get him to accompany me.) It wasn’t too painful of a visit, he passed up action figures of Dr Who characters, but conned me out of 15 dollars to pay half of the cost of a video game. He promised to pay me back at some time in the future, but we both know that it probably won’t happen.

That duty taken care of we crossed over to City Hall Plaza where the commercial vendors set up shop, and the city has a bandstand. The music was ok, and the vendors passing out free sample were fewer that usual, we scored a couple of bottles of Cholula Hot Sauce and little boxes of Honey Bunches of Oats. Victorinos, the makers of the Swiss Army Knife had a tricked out Airstream Trailer but were only passing out samples of a soon to be released Swiss Army knife cologne. Mutual of Omaha had and exhibit called Adventure Tour, celebrating their sponsorship of the Wild Kingdom television show. It was full of animatronic animals that begged to have you be photographed with them, but the final piece de resistance was the animatronic bust of Marlin Perkins, the long deceased host of the program, popping out if a plastic iceberg on a wetsuit. A creepy Marlin Perkins

We both agreed that we had enough entertainment for the day and hopped the subway home where a piece of wild caught Alaskan sockeye salmon was waiting to be grilled. That is possible the favorite food of everyone in the house. I slow grilled it a western red cedar plank that I acquired for that purpose. Joining it on the grill was corn on the cob and grilled bread. Dinner was delicious, the salmon was done perfectly if I do say so myself, and we all wished that there had been more fish.

After dinner we discussed where and how we were going to watch the fireworks, and after a brief discussion we decided that watching them from the house was the easy no effort answer, that way we could also watch them on TV. One of the advantages of living close in to the center of Boston is that we can see them pretty clearly from the bedroom window on the 2nd floor. And after wards we don’t have to fight crowds and traffic on the way home. A couple of years ago we decided that we would go down and watch them from the Esplanade we packed a picnic dimmer and took the subway down. It was fun, but the place was packed, but when it came time for the fireworks we discovered that out location was less than ideal. We moved around and finally found a place to watch from, but it was a pain in the darn as hundreds of other people were doing the same thing. When they were over of course all 500,000 people watching from the Esplanade left at the same time. It was all foot traffic but is was no less backed up as if it were cars. We got home well after midnight exhausted.

Doing that once was enough, and this year we wanted to rise early and well rested the next day as we were heading down the Cape Cod for pow-wow.

A couple of other sights not mentioned earlier:
Living Statues - note the water bottle behind the sign at her feet.

Another living statue - you have to be pretty self assured to stand around all day in a silver lame' leotard.

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