Ph.D. Octopus

Politics, media, music, capitalism, scholarship, and ephemera since 2010

Boston vs. New York

with one comment

by Wiz

I’ve been doing research in Boston for the last couple of months, though I am based out of New York. So I thought I’d share some observations on the two in the spirit of Amanda’s comparison between Austin and Brooklyn.

If you don’t care about Boston or New York, or about my narcissistic ramblings, you can skip this post.

Point Number 1: This is an unfair comparison. New York is so clearly superior it hurts. Bars are open later (and they’re cooler and more numerous), public transit is amazing, the food is world-famous, everything is bigger, etc…

Number 2: Bostonians are a sporty, jogging bunch. I blame this on the unfortunate confluence of two overlapping groups, both of which are overrepresented in Boston: Wasps and Ivy Leaguers. If there is one thing that Wasps like, even more than bad art made out of beach shells or sweaters over their shoulders, it’s jogging.

Number 3: One way in which Boston clearly beats New York is in its Burrito-based chains. This surprised me. But Boston’s got Boloco, Anna’s Taqueria, Boca Grande, and Felipe’s. These are all relatively similar, it’s true, but of high quality. In comparison, New York is a fairly anemic burrito environment, with most of Manhattan dominated by mega-chains like Chipotle or Qdoba. On the other hand, the pizza mostly sucks in Boston. And don’t even get me started on the bagels. Finagle a bagel my ass.

Number 4: Boston and especially Cambridge have a much better out-door music scene than New York. On any half-way nice day, there are old hippies or scamps from Berkeley all over Harvard Square, Newbury St., etc…playing bad Beatles covers or stupid drum routines. It’s silly but pleasant on a nice sunny day. Paradoxical, in its way, since historically New York is a much better place for professional music than Boston is.

Perhaps this is because in New York musicians go for the subway, and so are dispersed, whereas in Boston they tend to congregate in the few places that have lots of outdoor activity, but I do think one unfortunate consequence of New York’s position as the world leader in music and art is that it makes amateurs a bit reluctant to make fools of themselves, which is essential to any outdoor music scene.

Number 5: Between the fashion industry, Williamsburg hipsters, and stylish up-town types, New Yorkers clearly are a shockingly vain people. In Boston, on the other hand, there are two types: those for whom the relevant fashion question is which North Face jacket goes best with their college sweat pants, and those for whom the question is which Kennedy circa 1958 you are imitating.

Number 6: Both city’s sports fans are loutish assholes. But there is something endearing about the utter lack of decency in the Boston sports fan, wearing his Celtics t-shirt in gthe freezing cold, singing nonsense songs while puking in his Red Sox hat. I’ll never forget being at a punk rock show in Boston, when, during the inevitable wait for the band to come out for encore, the crowd just started chanting “Yankees Suck, Yankees Suck” Didn’t make any sense, was completely out of context, and yet… somehow, it worked.

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Written by Peter Wirzbicki

April 9, 2010 at 13:00

One Response

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  1. […] blog might have a history of ragging on Boston (or Cambridge) in favor of New York, and I might feel a little lousy […]


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