Bad Art, JFK and Free Palestine: Boston, MA

The gentleman beside me on the subway has a greying Yosemite Sam moustache. Like most other commuters, he is quietly in his own world as we travel the Red Line away from the city centre. Unlike most commuters, he sporadically says, to no-one in particular, “It’s like shitting in her mouth.” Welcome to Boston.

In fairness to New England’s largest city, that was the only scatologically obsessed citizen I ran into during my visit. I have been told repeatedly that I would probably enjoy Boston as it is the most European American city. I didn’t work out quite what that meant, but I did spend some time complaining about the Dutch, so maybe it’s true.

I was taking the Red Line out to learn about one of America’s most famous acronym-Americans, JFK.

JFK Library

En route we got a terrific bus driver who offered a many varied insight into the Boston environs, including the magnificent insight into a sculpture at the University of Massachusetts Boston: “That piece of artwork is called the Giraffe. I don’t know.” Quite right, Mr. Bus Driver. Anyway, onwards, JFK-wards.

At the time I was visiting Boston, it was shortly after the re-election of President Obama and some commentators (well, Fox News) were complaining that he barely won, with only a teeny tiny 3,000,000 vote difference (incidentally, if that’s considered insignificant, I see why you guys have a deficit problem). So I was somewhat surprised to discover that JFK beat Nixon by about one family and its cats:

Popular VoteMr. Whiskers liked JFK’s foreign policy.

JFK has always been a favourite American of mine, ever since he had the courage to go back in time and assassinate himself to restore a better timeline. That and, y’know, the space race.

Moon rock

Speaking of space and science, my next Bostonian destination is the Museum of Science, with its massive balls:

Lightning Balls

And its hard-to-photograph fog vortex:

Fog Vortex

And its—hold up. One of their exhibits offers you the chance to experience a hurricane. Obviously, because I’m a moron, I am somewhat disappointed that I only got to the US after Sandy had passed. So I happily hop into the pod, seal it up and get ready to be rocked like a hurricane.

Hurricane Experience

It gets a little windy. Then a bit more windy. Then it stops. Hm. Not quite the experience I was expecting, but I suppose if it included being pelted with dead fish and sewer water, people would complain.

The only real problem with the Museum of Science is that it was crawling with children, all these little kids roaming around, using the exhibitions, “learning”. Horrible. They should lock the kids in a room and let the adults and perpetual-adolescents (hi) have fun with all the gadgetry. That bed of nails thing looked cool, little kid, that’s all I’m saying.

After leaving (or being asked to leave), I head to get some dinner and end up in Chinatown.
[L: You’re Irish, in Boston, and you decide to end up in Chinatown?]
You’re going to insult me again, aren’t you?
[L: It’s hard not to.]
I was listening to the Pogues at the time, if that helps.
[L: Do you not hear yourself?]

… So a quick General Tso’s Chicken and I’m off again and, while going to cross a road, I inadvertently end up in a Free Palestine rally:

Free Palestine RallyFree Palestine Rally

Obviously this is a hugely contentious and nuanced issue, with broad geopolitical ramifications, not to mention the human cost of decades of violence, but more importantly, what is the deal with hotel towels?

Hotel Towels

I mean it, what’s the deal with folding up a towel so it can hold another towel like some cotton-threaded kangaroo? Is this a new thing? An American thing? Do hotels have conventions on how to display towels? And if hotels do have conventions, where do they hold them? Can a hotel hold a convention about itself within itself? Isn’t that horribly meta, or incestuous, or both?

After a restless night contemplating the defining issues of our time, I rise in the morning to go to a place I had long heard of, a place of artistic… attempt. A place of art that wanted to be art, but was just horrible. A place for horrible art.

Tate Modern

No, not that one.

I speak, of course, of the Boston Museum of Bad Art.

Museum of Bad Art

There are three branches of it, which is tragically underselling how much bad art there is out there, and I ended up at the Brookline Gallery, which exists as part of the offices of Brookline Access Television, which itself is housed in the same building as a school. My point is that when a scruffy guy with a beard turns up at a school with a camera “I came here for the bad art” really doesn’t cut it with a judge. Anyway, onto the delights. I thought capturing them head-on might prove too powerful an experience for the viewer, so please consider this the bad photography of the bad art:

Mufasa?Why Munch was screamingI don't evenAll paintings belong to whoever would be willing to claim them.

At this point in my trip, it’s nearly Thanksgiving, so I have to leave the bad art – conscious that the dead-eyed stares of some of the paintings will follow me in my dreams forever – and head over to spend Thanksgiving with a friend.

All Autumn-ySee? It’s all, like, Autumn-y and stuff.

Unfortunately Rhode Island didn’t provide any birds to finish a post with, but Boston provides these two startled owls.

Startled Owls


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