Monday, December 8, 2008
the view from allston mass
8 December 2008
This blog is a sequel to my Paris blog "Views from Montparnasse. " The view from the Charles River flood plain here in Allston is a bit different from the lofty vistas offered by Montparnasse. I'm still adjusting as I write this. But--apart from the unavoidable temptation of the rhyming titles--what can this blog have to do with that other, first venture of mine into the blogosphere? Visually, not much, as the attached photo might suggest. Allston is a gritty place, surrounded by highways and rail lines and truck depots, paved over and overbuilt though underused and largely unappreciated. Few would compare it with Paris.
But just as "Views from Montparnasse" was always a metaphor as much as a description, my intention in this blog will be to develop a point of view related to my living here in Allston. In choosing this title I am hoping it will be possible to retain something of the spirit that informed my Paris blog; that is, I hope to look at the world from Allston in much the same way I looked at it from Montparnasse. That other project involved looking at an urban neighborhood (and its larger metropolis) through cultural and historical windows that happened to present themselves, and this Boston blog will do the same. Just as the view from Paris included the very hopeful lens of a political movement whose goal is to build a whole new world of social and productive relations, these views from Allston will hardly be able to ignore the massive physical development planned for this neighborhood by our large institutional neighbor to the north. The new world taking shape in Allston, and the politics that shape that world, will be a regular topic of these "Views." Everyday life in Allston, in Montparnasse, and everywhere else is determined in part by politics, and the politics of Harvard's expansion into Allston are, like most politics, both threatening and promising. So these "Views from Allston Mass" will take in what they can of the maneuvers of that wealthy and powerful developer, and the response of our valiant little community, and much else besides. On with the blog!