A weak week in Boston

This post is about a week late due to sickness and catching up at work. I spent what I thought was going to be a rejuvenating and inspirational week in Boston. My direct purpose for going up there was for training for work with IBM’s Tivoli Identity Management product. The training itself was fantastic! We had fast machines and a very knowledgeable instructor. The course took you through the product from soup to nuts including installation, management, administration, and customization. The class was small enough and moved at an adequate pace that I didn’t get too bored and some labs I even found challenging.

That was the good part about Boston and since work was paying for it, that’s really the only part that needs to be good. But I had read such great things about Boston street performers that I really thought that I was going to be able to get tons of shots for my street performer photo project. Everytime I went out, I went with all my gear so that I would be prepared for spending long hours talking to performers or walking from pitch to pitch. Most of this was for nothing. I think I snapped 150 or so frames the entire week. I was very dissapointed. Most pitches featured the same two break dancing groups in a constant rotation who didn’t have the time/desire/whatever to talk to me. The subways featured some random musicians but it seemed like I didn’t have my camera out when they were playing.

I did meet one subway musician, Koga Rite, who was really captivating and for me, he was the saving grace of the trip from that perspective. I had had a pretty rough day and decided to go back to the hotel rather early. As I walked down the subway entrance to the train platform, I could hear his saxophone echoing down the tube and was instantly excited. I sat down on a bench next to him and pulled out my gear and talked to him in between songs. I sat there while my train came and went knowing that another would be by soon enough. I snapped about 50 frames of him but the conversation was great. He made my trip to Boston feel like less of a failure.

I did also see my first silver person, or living statue performer. It was a woman painted in silver and she seemed very nice and struck numerous poses while I tried to find the best angle, very difficult when shooting directly into the setting sun. I say she seemed very nice because I didn’t actually talk to her. I had been so put off by the break dancers and frustrated by their tact that I was fearful of any more rejection and never talked to her or got her to sign a release. I’m pretty dissapointed in myself for that because she really was great at striking interesting poses.

Short of that, I did do some other tourist stuff while in Boston. I had a great time in Salem, MA. It’s best known for the Salem Witch Trials but it is also a really neat port city that has maintained it’s quaintness over time. The Salem Trolley was a great experience with really guides who really knew the history of the area and with a ticket purchase you can get on and off all throughout town and it serves as a great way to get around. I took the entire tour once and then I got off at different places I wanted to see that sounded interesting. The Salem Witch Museum offered a pretty good account of the Salem Witch Trials and the 20 unfortunate people who were killed as a result. But what I thought was really interesting was afterwards, they had a mini-tour that gave an overview of modern day witches that follow a pagan nature-based religion and how it has nothing to do with the Devil.

I’ve been to Boston before and I’ve seen this before but it’s still neat to see it again, the bar that served as the opening shot for the television show Cheers. The inside doesn’t look anything like the TV show but it does feature a pretty decent (albeit touristy) lunch complete with Sam Adams on tap.

One of my favorite ways to tour a city is on a big yellow duck or DUKW. Their tour guides are generally extremely knowledgable and equally colorful. It’s a great way to see a large portion of a city both (by land and by water) and pick out things to explore in closer detail via foot later.

Other than Salem, my favorite place was Harvard Square. It has a ton of unique shops featuring hand-made, rare, unique and interesting items. The area also features a number of really good “whole-in-the-wall” restaurants and tea shops that are just excellent. There was also a really good camera shop that held my interest on two visits, yet I left with nothing purchased but it was fun talking photog with the staff.

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