Day Five: Into the City

Wake up at 10:45 - bed far too comfortable.

Raining, a shift in weather I did not dress for.

Today, I go to see the Science Museum.


I have already learned to loathe and fear the MBTA.

Unlike Portland, where a ticket means you can ride the whole of the transit system for a given amount of time, here you have to pay for each individual trip. This makes it fairly expensive if you're completely new to the area and have a tendency to board the wrong buses and trains.

It also doesn't help that half the bus stop signs don't tell you what bus they're for.

I took the 240 bus into Ashmont, which is 90% black. The 240 bus was the first time I've been the only white person in sight, with the exception of shopping at Viet stores.

The train was hidden inside a construction site, and it took 15 minutes of wandering to find it. A helpful T employee guided me through the ticket buying process.

The train is much older and larger than the MAX. Unlike the MBTA's buses, which manage to be just as big and seat less people than ours, the trains are titanic beasts which can fit hundreds.

It's grey and humid out. My hat has become stiff again from it.

Unlike Portland where the color of the train identifies its clear, single pathway, here they split and end up with destinations miles apart. I will have to be careful with trains.

I have no respect for the Metro newspaper. It runs the headline 'K-Fed: Musical Genius' without a lick of irony.

We are going through the tunnel when the walls are suddenly engulfed in flame. It's one of the subway animations that works as a sort of flipbook.

I leave the train at the Park Street station and realize that I've been beneath the city the entire time. My first sight of it will be from its heart.

I leave down an empty corridor to the exit past black iron gates. The escalator, its gears thrumming loud and regular, goes up four stories to a bright doorway, and as I ride it up I can hear the music of a lone mariachi guitarist coming up from the subway.

Then I'm in Boston. I wander through the streets, passing a theater tucked at the end of a wide alley, next door to an opulent law school across the street from a graveyard. I go down a twisting sloped road filled with the shops of jewelry and coin merchants. There are dark alleyways, immense and foreboding.

Everything is red brick here.

I emerge into an open area, at Franklin and Washington. There's a trio of foodcarts, pigeons, surprisingly few cars, and a guy with a sandwich-board. The pigeons are cruel black birds, and look unnaturally predatory. Their coos are deep threatening rumbles. One advances on me with carnivorous menace in its orange eyes and I pull my legs up onto the bench.

I realize I've never seen a pigeon mating display end in success.

A hairy guy wearing a v-neck 'U.S. Navy Mom' shirt passes by the square. No matter how weird you are in a city, there's going to be someone weirder.

Aside from the foodcarts, there's nowhere to attain sustenance except for pubs. This does me no good.

The cabs here are fewer than New York, but fancier - this one has a video screen on its roof.

During idle reflection, I come to the conclusion that no cities have actually been built on rock and roll.

I've less than two hours of battery left on this computer. I might have to resort to pen and notebook eventually.

I now make my way back to the train, and there to the science museum.

The subway stations are labyrinthine furnaces, both for the trains and the people. I get on a crowded one I guess is going in the right direction. I will see.

The train unexpectedly stops at the next station. I get a coffee to go with my ginger ale, manage to miss the next one, and continue waiting.

Again, styrofoam cups. I didn't even know the rest of the country used them.

Boston, primarily around the waterfront, feels a lot like Portland taken to an extreme (and given a more noble history).

Sidenote to the Shadowcabinet Players (sounds like an acting company): Supers-Portland transit would be like our own Portland's, Seattle's, Boston's, and maybe a bit of New York's smashed together.

Now, on to the Museum of Science. No matter how much more fabulous and grand it is than OMSI, I can always take comfort in that we have the OMNIMAX. Their puny IMAX is nothing compared to our mighty dome. Also, submarine.

There's multiple WiFi networks out on the waterfront. Again, though, they manage to vanish before I can get around to posting.

The people giving amphibious tours give all the children kazoos that make duck noises. They are cruel, cruel people.

There's a kid who looks like a blue-haired 12-year old Quentin Tarantino with a Kingdom of Loathing shirt on. His mother is dressed like some sort of Old West Hippie Gunslinger.

The Museum of Science wins in bigness and having free WiFi. The main hall alone has a Da Vinci ornithopter, a giant map of Boston on the wall which lights up to identify a chosen location.

Given the sheer scope of this place, seventeen dollars for just the exhibit halls seems a very reasonable price. I will attempt to remember and report as much of it as I can, but I may become overwhelmed by the science and have a AMSS* relapse. Should've brought my pills.

*Acute Mad Scientist Syndrome

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