Mennonno Sapiens

One Giant Leap For Mankind

A Sunday Morning Trek to The Wilds of Jamaica Plain

Today was the kind of day in these parts that if you weren’t outside soaking in the weather, you should be renditioned. Or better yet, paraded down Main Street, marched to the ancient stone altar in the town square to have your beating heart ripped out and fed to the gods to the wild chants and ululations of your friends and neighbors.

Only by pleasing the gods in this way can we reasonably ensure that this gorgeous weather will go on for those of us who know what to do with it. And I know gorgeous weather of this order in these parts in October is not just an oxymoron. It is cognitive dissonance on the scale of The Sox winning the World Series. And thus, the rotten weather is as cherished a hardship as the Sox yearly loss used to be, and as regular a certainty back in the day.
But the times are a-changing, aren’t they?
Some of you who were cowering from the sublime indoors all day (and I imagine you know who you are) will surely argue that this is the calm before the storms of global climate change ravage our once habitable planet. All the more reason to get out and enjoy it while it lasts, I say. And if you’re on a bicycle, and don’t eat a lot of beans, you can do it utterly guilt-free.
If you don’t have a bike, a boat will do, too. This was the weekend of the Head of the Charles Regatta, of course…

I don’t get it myself, really, but I’m all for it. It may not always seem it, but I’m actually a very open-minded person. I myself like having somewhere to go when I hop on my bike, or get in a rowboat. I understand not everybody’s like that. The HOTC is sure steeped in tradition, though. The largest two-day regatta in the world. Could not have asked for a better weekend for it.

I took in a bit of the festivities before dropping into the garden. I have to admit I didn’t do much but eat a Bavarian cream donut I’d brought with me, and lounge about in my lawn chair reading my Rilke (although you really need a cloudier day for all of that to add up).

It was very quiet in the Fenway today. Another calm before the storm, perhaps. It’s all on poor little Dice-K, innit? You know if he chokes tonight, he will have no choice but to commit hara-kiri. You may think me insensitive for saying so, but it’s what everyone is thinking.

So it was a relaxing respite in the garden…

This photo is simply to document my hair for posterity. The last time you all saw me I was well and fully sheared. Now that I’ve embarked upon my new vocation of indigent artiste–a Count Vronsky, alas, without an AnnaI feel I should let it grow.

The interesting thing about having a full head of hair is how people look at you different from when your head’s shaved. I find that people are a little on their guard when I’m sporting my edgier militant homosexual look than when I’m showing off my lustrous, curly locks. Of course it’s a totally subjective observation, but I think there’s something to it.

I mean, I know I treat people differently based on their looks. Not so much things that are beyond their control. I mean, you try not to treat people differently who were born that way. But when people who aren’t different go to great lengths to look different–they obviously want to be treated differently, don’t they?  All the more reason to be mean to them.

I’m not really going for a particular look here, by the way. I just think maybe it’s time for a change. I’ll keep you posted.

From the Fens I headed to The Riverway…

…parts of which look like well-kept ancient ruins, not on account of the condition of the structures, but of their setting–some bridges span dried-up and grown-over beds. This may have been the intention. The winding Muddy River that leads from Jamaica Pond to the Charles used to be nothing but marsh.

Olmstead’s work all along the Emerald Necklace strikes me as very organic, though. The structures are simple, sturdy, and elegant. If you look at the crap they’re throwing up on the Rose Kennedy Greenway today, you can really appreciate what you find all along the Emerald Necklace. It’s like they’re phoning it in on the Greenway. Git ‘er done! Most of it won’t last a decade, much less a century, by the looks of it.

I understand that we’re dealing with apples and oranges, of course. No matter what you do, there’s no way the Greenway’s going to look like anything you find in nature. It’s just what it says it is, a green way. Many structures are spiky, metallic, and full of sharp edges. The plantings are on grids. You wanted trees? Badabing, badaboom! There’s your trees.

It remains to be seen whether this vision of a green way will grow on the locals. It is infinitely better than what it replaces, no question. But to judge it by that standard is to judge the morning by the nightmare you just woke up from.

The Emerald Necklace was designed to be a sort of “folly.” I don’t think I’m too out of line to suggest it’s a distant cousin of the follies so popular in the centuries before Olmstead got to work on it. It was designed to seem like nature had intended it to be the way it is, but needed a little help getting there.

For the most part the colors aren’t out in force yet…

…but there were spots of color along the way…

Color or no, it was another perfect autumn day–which, in my book, means a perfect day, period. It’s funny about people’s favorite seasons. Autumn’s always been mine. I even like the word “autumnal.”  I suspect it’s because my first memories are of autumn. But it could be that according to my colorist, I’m an autumn.

When I got to JP, I got all nostalgic. I used to live there, but sort of on the “wrong” end of Centre Street. Still, it is such a charming area, I wouldn’t mind moving back someday, if the opportunity presents itself.

Yesterday the brunch crowd was out, and there was the customary line halfway down the block at the Centre Street Cafe, and the guy who was seating people was greeting them by name. People were out on the sidewalk, talking about the Sox.

All along Centre Street it was such a laid-back atmosphere. No attitude. People seemed a little less self-conscious and statusy than on my side of the Charles. A lot of folks closer to my age, too, seemed like. And I think the restaurants and pubs are better there than in Davis Square. They’ve both got bowling alleys and lesbians.

And thrift shops.  JP’s got Boomerangs, which has a great selection of used books way in the back. They’re pricier than the ones here at Goodwill (two bucks each for trade paperbacks there versus ninety-nine cents here) but the selection is better (although the Goodwill on Elm’s got a new manager, and they seem to be getting better books than before).

I guess I can’t really complain about Davis Square, although I will say that that recent missed connection fiasco has left a sort of stain on the tiny psychic version of the square in my brain.

I didn’t write about it here, because, well, it wasn’t anything to blog about, really. I thought it was kind of neat that the first missed connection I posted got a match. I didn’t expect anything to come of it, but the novelty appealed to me.

The first indication that something was wrong came when the guy who answered asked if I wanted to meet and take in the Sox game at a sports pub. I said, sure, why not? But that dampened any hope that my missed connection was going to be anything but a connection that was better missed. Sometimes Destiny does know better.

So we were supposed to meet in front of Mike’s, and I knew when I saw him all the way from Mr. Crepe way across the square, that he wasn’t the guy I’d seen and exchanged glances with before. Because the guy I’d seen was about my height and build–a little huskier, but not in the upper two-hundred to three-hundred pound range. Not a Papa Bear, much less a Kodiak. Not that I have anything against Papa Bears or Kodiaks. It’s just that this clearly wasn’t my guy.

To be fair, he had sent a picture, and he had some of the basics right. I mean, dark hair, Mediterranean type. But the rest was kind of fuzzy. There weren’t too many details to ask to confirm, and I didn’t want to appear to be coy. So I’d said, right then, let’s just do it.

Some people I know would have turned right around and hightailed it out of town. But, you know, there’s no reason to stand somebody up just because they’re not who you thought they were. I mean, if they blatantly misrepresent themselves, OK, but he really hadn’t. For all I know he thought we’d had a missed connection.

We went to the Burren and had a couple of beers and a nice chat. Turns out he wasn’t a Sox fan, after all. In fact, I don’t think he really knew much about baseball. He liked the way the players are built. I mean, most of them are pretty paunchy these days.  So he was into bearish guys, himself. Which was good, too. I wasn’t his type, either, in the end.

So it really was meant to be. A missed connection, that is.

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