Boston – Been There
A wooden alarm clock? That’ll be $30
Brooklyn may be a cultural magnet for hipsters and would-be artisans, but Boston’s South End gives the New York borough a run for its money.
Boston’s South End today offers a vision of hipster cool seen through a prism of New England ruggedness. Like so many other American similar neighborhoods, it was once a relatively gritty area but has been transformed by an influx of LGBT and the artistically-inclined.
The Butcher Shop – once exactly what it says – has expanded into a charcuterie bar. Concept stores like Sault, on Tremont Street, sell high-end country wear (think fitted flannel shirts) and – my personal favorite – a block of wood that displays the time with LED lights ($30).
It’s easy to roll my eyes, but there’s something endearing about the earnestness of the South End’s artistic set. Invited by a friend, Aden, I head down Tremont Street to a penthouse loft in a brownstone for a secret concert: the location (a private apartment) emailed to subscribers the morning of the show. People put dollar bills into the “donation box,” sharing beers with strangers.
One by one, we climb the narrow stairway that leads to the rooftop, where we stare out over the winter lights of Boston, trading names, stories. One girl is just visiting from abroad; another has been coming here for months. The folk singers sing of troubled upbringings, relationships with deceased fathers, drug addictions, of pasts as students in Cambridge, of childhood loves, lost and found.
In Brooklyn, all this intimacy might come across as self-conscious, ironic. But tonight, as the guitars reverberate under the stars, it all feels wonderfully sincere.