Archive for June 20th, 2008

Boston Rules and Resistance is Futile

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mvp2.pngYesterday the Dowbrigade and his son and cameraman Gabriel joined half a million other Boston sports fans to celebrate the latest World Championship by a local sports team. Yawn. Then we stopped for Brazilian Bar-B-Q on the way home. Ho hum.

How jaded we have become, here in the Hub! Somehow life seems empty if one of the local teams isn’t playing for a cup, or trophy, or title. What we have here is a unique and unprecedented confluence of statistical, psychic and socio-cultural factors, bringing championships to Boston by the bandwagon.

We have already taken credit for the Major Mojo behind this run of competitive success. However, it occurs to us that most people may not be aware of how deep and widespread this reign of triumph currently is.

For example, how many readers are aware that the Walpole, MA Little League team was declared the default 2007 Little League World Series winner, due to the retroactive age-related disqualifications of players from the Macon, Georgia and Osaka, Japan teams which finished ahead of them?

And how about the news that the Boston team at the National Conference of Mayors won the annual City Government Softball Tournament final 17-6 after cleanup hitter Tom Tom Menino pointed to the left field wall, mumbled something unintelligible and smashed the crap out of an 0-2 knuckleball from Michael Bloomberg.

While the “Big Three” of Celtics, Patriots and Red Sox grab all the headlines, true sports fans are aware that there are other champions in town. The New England Revolution have been to the MLS finals three years in a row, earning the unfortunate sobrioquet “Buffalo Bills of the MLS”.

But further down the food chain of professional sports, who knew that the Boston Tea Bags recently finished first in the Gay Para Olympics. Or that the Boston Bonsais of the Professional Flower Arranging League last year won the Bouquet Bowl?It is a shame only the Bay Windows weekly rag reported that the Boston Stylistics captured the American Stylists 2008 Coiff-Off held recently in Las Vegas. They Blow!

Among female competitors, local teams at the top of their respective sports include the Boston Ballbreakers of the Womens Amateur Rugby Association and the New England Nannies who recently triumphed in the World Child Care Olympics in Manchester, England.

And who could forget the Boston Blueballs, who traveled to Fugloysund, Norway for the Competitive Ice-Swimming Team Championship and won! Go Blueballs!

But Boston’s good fortune has not been limited to nominal grown-ups. Our many excellent college teams have also been bringing home titles at a rate that has the laurel leaves falling faster than foliage in the fall. Why, just during the past academic year, MIT took home both the US Collegiate Chess Championship and the NCAA Robot Rhythmic Gymnastics Cup. In between Harvard won the Super-Ego Bowl.

Speaking of bowls, BC triumphed in the 2008 GE College Bowl as well as the Champs Sports Bowl, and Northeastern staggered home with the 2008 Beer Pong title. Brandeis took the team title at the Maccabee Games and a Bentley won the Paris-Dakar Road Rally. In a major upset, BU won the Division 3 Football Championship, even though they haven’t had a football team for ten years.

Flipping through the cable lineup we also note that New Englanders have been on a competitive reality show tear, having recently won America’s Top Model, Celebrity Chef Cookoff, American Idle (a slacker spin-off), Dancing with the Stars, Big Brother, I Survived a Japanese Game Show, America Gladiator, The Great Race, Fear Factor, Top Design, America’s Got Talent, The Biggest Loser and The Apprentice.

The popularity of Boston has been noted and rewarded by a plethora of national publications and professional associations which have recently named our fair city, among other things, America’s Voted Most Livable City, Best Sports Bars, Top Singles Scene, Best Managed City, Most Scenic Urban Area, Best Educated City, Best Junk Food, Most Interesting Eccentrics, America’s Friendliest Citizens and, in an incredible coup, Best Weather in the Continental United States.

In addition to a continuing cavalcade of championships, we can look forward to an accelerating parade of world-class events. Boston has been recently selected to host the 2010 Miss Universe Pageant, the 2016 Summer Olympics and the 2020 World Cup. In 2012 both the Democrats and the Republicans plan to have their nominating conventions here.

So enjoy it while it lasts, boys and girls, but be ready to relocate for a while. When the party ends, there’ll be the devil to pay. Balancing the karmic books can be a bitch.

Watch the video we shot yesterday

Mercy Killing

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The call came in on Sunday morning, interrupting the time honored ritual of newspapers, coffee and pastries in bed. The unfamiliar female voice asked in halting, heavily accented English, “Is you Michol?” It turned out to be a friend of a distant cousin of Norma Yvonne, who claimed she knew us when we lived in Guayaquil, and who now, apparently, resided in Orlando.

I vaguely remembered her. Short, dark and sweet, a description that could apply to 90% of Ecuadorian women. Married to a guy called “el Chino”, ten years ago they ran the snack bar on the campus of the Holy Spirit University, where the Dowbrigade was head of the English Department and Norma Yvonne was the University Registrar. In Ecuador, anyone with slanty or squinty eyes is called “Chino”.

In the intervening decade, el Chino died and Mercy moved to Florida, where she met a Gringo, got married, and now is thinking of moving back to Ecuador. She ran on and on, in Spanish, telling me her life story.

We thought, “Why is she telling me all of this?”

We said, “Would you like to talk to Norma?”

Meanwhile, Norma, who was traipsing around the apartment in a devastating crepe sun dress, was vigorously shaking her head and wagging her finger in the international gesture for “I’m not here!”

“No, actually,” stammered Mercy, “I wanted to talk to you. Or rather, I want you to talk to my husband. Since he’s a Gringo, and you’re a Gringo, I thought maybe you could talk to him and tell him about Ecuador.” She sounded strangely desperate.

We thought, “She wants to take him back to Ecuador but he’s scared of the jungle diseases and savage tortoises. We should hang up.”

We said, “I’d be happy to speak to him. Put him on.”

Best to bite the bullet and get it over with a quickly as possible, we figured. Misanthropic in general, the Dowbrigade regards talking to people he doesn’t know on the phone at the behest of relatives he barely knows as one rung above taking cold calls from script-reading Mongolians at dinnertime.

But Mercilessly, Mercy went on. “He’s really a very nice person. Although everybody probably says that about their husbands.”

We thought, “Why is she apologizing for him already? I haven’t heard anything bad yet.”

We said, “I’m sure Eva Braun thought Hitler was a wonderful fellow.”
She said, “Excuse me?”

We thought, “What am I doing? She probably thinks I’m talking about people we know in Guayaquil. The last thing we want to be doing on a Sunday morning is discussing the personal life of Adolph Hitler with this woman!”

We said, “Never mind. Let me talk to your husband.”

When we finally got him on the line, we got right to the point. “Mercy tells us you are thinking of relocating to Ecuador. What can I tell you about?”

“I was mostly interested in the job possibilities down there, and the cost of living. Stuff like that.”

“Well, the job possibilities depend on the particular area in which you want to work. What field are you in?”

“Actually, I have experience in many different fields. As my Grandfather used to say, a jack of all trades and master of none, ha ha.”

We thought, “Loser.”

We said, “That’s really useful. Where are you working now, if you don’t mind my asking, and what kind of work do you plan to look for in Guayaquil?”

He said, “Law Enforcement”

We thought, “Security guard”

We said, “We can’t really recommend public law enforcement as a profession in South America. They don’t receive much in the way of salaries and subsist on bribes and extortion. A lot of them make a little extra on the side working nights with the death squads. There isn’t a lot of job security, though – a lot of them end up in jail, the ones that don’t get shot because the drug gangs are much better armed.”

He didn’t say anything, which we took as encouragement to continue on.

“Of course, there is always a market for private security and bodyguards. Especially right now, since the big kidnapping gangs from Colombia have started to branch out across the border into Ecuador. Those guys are really savage, they usually cut off the victims left hand and send it to the family to show they are serious. If you don’t pay, they cut off the head and send that. Just about everyone with money has a few bodyguards with them at all times these days. Most millionaires keep a few guards at home as well, since the big gangs sometimes attack their mansions with battering rams to smash the steel doors and heavy automatic weapons to discourage resistance. There are usually a lot of openings since turnover is high. Are you good with a gun?”

“Wow,” he sounded stunned, “I didn’t realize things were so out of control down there.”

“Yeah, well, there are a lot of guns and violence, but the people really like Americans, and the cost of living is quite reasonable. You can rent a house for $400 or $500, and you can’t spend $20 in a good restaurant, unless you drink.”

“Sounds like you’d need a drink, once in a while.”

“Too true, but you’ve got to be careful because the muggers can smell the booze a block off and congregate like piranhas smelling blood in the water.”

“Well, thanks for the info. I’ll put Mercy back on.”

“Not necessary. Tell her to call back some evening. We’re sure Norma would LOVE to hear from her.”