Thursday, September 06, 2007

Boston's Newest Suburb: The South End

I have mixed feelings over the news this week that the Waltham Tavern has been sold to a developer and will be built into condo's.

On the one hand, I am relieved and thrilled that there won't be any pretentious purveyors of heirloom tomatoes moving in, or fabulous new "bistro's," or high end home design stores (owned by actual "designers"!!) for people with Pottery Barn "tastes" (and also, incongruously, loft-like residences). Didn't Boston shop/restaurant keepers of note know that there are at least three banks within a short walk to which they could have laughed all the way?

On the other hand, there are condo's (presumably of the "luxury" kind) going in. That means more yuppies in the neighborhood. (I am intrigued, however, by the fact that one unit will be a studio -- how many times have you seen a newly constructed studio in this neighborhood?). People, I ask you this: How much more maple, granite and stainless steel can the South End stand before it starts to creak, buckle, and finally implode upon itself? I hope the residents are haunted by the ghosts of Waltham Tavern regulars nightly, as in some 70's horror movie, only because those "regulars" would probably be the last people they would ever have run into in real life.

Despite the fact that the Waltham might have been frequented by, well, some of the more alcohol-friendly residents of the South End, my experience living right nearby was that the patrons leaving were alot quieter and well-behaved than the annoying Ugg-wearing binge-drinkers that frequented a late-hours bar/restaurant just about a block down the road. My gentle sleep had been interrupted on a regular basis from the younger patrons of this place just after last call almost on a nightly basis, whereas I never had to hear the shrill voices of fratgirls and boys screaming about how drunk they were (and the occasional vomiting spell) emanating from the Waltham regulars who pretty much just kept to themselves....


Anonymous only been here six years... said...

I have a different take on the demise of The Waltham, a place which I visited once or twice a month as a neighbor. The local mobster who operated it illegally (the liquor license was in the names of his long-dead wife and business partner, since as a many-times-convicted felon he couldn't hold the license) used it to run an illegal sports book, loan-shark, and peddle cocaine and Oxycodone. It wasn't a sweet developer deal that did him in (he rented the space), it was the DEA.

The Waltham routinely left its doors open to allow its nasty classic-rock jukebox to blast the neighborhood. Some of its lowlife patrons who congregated on the sidewalk to smoke and strew butts everywhere (which The Tavern refused to clean up) routinely harrassed passing female pedestrians with lewd catcalls.

I find some of the Franklin's patrons obnoxious, too, especially when they're hooting and hollering at 2am, but that has been going on for a long time: it's not like it started with the the new influx of yupscum.

While I bemoan the demise of cheap dives in the South End, I can't really say I'm sorry that The Waltham, its criminal operators, the drug buyers, gamblers, and sad late-stage alcoholics it attracted are no longer around. Fake nostalgia for that kind of place as a way to bash newcomers strikes me as ludicrous.

September 6, 2007 at 2:13:00 PM PDT  
Blogger thesouthender said...

Well, that's your opinion. I'm right there with you on your description of some of the Waltham's patrons - I just think its sad that the alcoholics, winos and drug dealers were better behaved than the so-called "well-heeled" clientele of the yupporium down the street.

September 6, 2007 at 3:57:00 PM PDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've lived near the Franklin for 15 years. Before it became THE Franklin, it was just like the Waltham was. I went in to check it out right after they redid the place, and it was a classic South End moment (and I didn't know it at the time, but a sign of things to come). The down and out alcoholics who had patronized the place before came back for the first few days, and would sit there in the stupors they'd been nursing all day, just staring incredulously at the skinny white chicks in little black dresses sipping Cosmos before dinner. I wish I had a camera.

September 7, 2007 at 8:34:00 AM PDT  
Anonymous Rhea said...

I like the old joints in the South End. I used to live down there and I hate the yuppifying of the area, too. Remember all the Arabic places down around Shawmut?

September 11, 2007 at 11:37:00 AM PDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is my new, absolute favorite blog. You are SO freakin' on the mark with your posts that it's scaring me. Are you reading my mind? There are so many places I miss, but I really cried when the low-key, inexpensive vegetable and fruit store on Shawmut Avenue was run out.

I have a question for you: Have you noticed that white kids who live in South End, Back Bay and Beacon Hill are never referred to as inner-city kids?

September 15, 2007 at 8:07:00 PM PDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The fruit and veg place was Tony's! I was totally a white inner city kid! My dad used to take me to the Empire Deli for baloney sandwiches. *Sigh* No more baloney.

And yeah, I LOVE this blog.

September 23, 2007 at 6:06:00 PM PDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dude, I think we might be brothers. I too, have been thrashed about by the new influx of luxury condo residents and held accountable for the expectations given to them by wordy, worldly, and increasingly more desperate, utopia promising real estate agents who farm our neighborhood. Does anyone remember that nobody wanted to live here for a very long time?
My home abbuts what used to be a heroine alley. Condoms puctuated my parking space, Mulitigenerational, ethnically diverse families neighbored me and kept me safe-- long before neighborhood associations started policing window boxes. What's next?

November 15, 2007 at 4:14:00 PM PST  
Anonymous Derek said...

Fuckin' A!

What's wrong with a few drunks, drug-dealers (where else you gonna buy some weed?), and otherwise "unsavory" characters? And some classic rock blaring from a mob-owned joint out onto the street on a hot summer night?

Nothing! In fact, absolutely nothing. It's the patina that made the South End the South End in the first place.

Money rules this world unfortunately and ever since the South End was anointed as a "hot neighborhood" it has all been downhill from there.

Keep on writing. Someone has to memorialize this once great neighborhood.

November 18, 2007 at 9:20:00 AM PST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Derek, I hear you loud & clear. In the 80's when I first lived in the South End I found it to be a place rich in charater with plenty of Heart & Soul!! Kind of like NYC on a smaller scale. It had a pulse and an energy. I loved being in a community surrounded by so many people who were "different" than me - with all its "Mom & Pop" shops and other USEFUL businesses such as produce markets, great ethnic restaurants. Not to mention a quick, fully-functional elevated Orange Line that could get you to Downtown Crossing in around 5 or 6 minutes instead of today's MESS of Silver Line. I miss places like Tim's Tavern and Even the Waltham Tavern (Gasp!!) where on any given day or night you could pop-in for a "cold one" no matter how you were dressed or who you knew and you'd almost certainly be entertained by whoever was sitting next to you - -maybe a bus driver, a doctor, a hooker, a construction worker, a cook, a student, a REAL artist, a musician- -all colors, shapes & sizes. It was INTERESTING!! Sure beats all these trendy, see-and-be-seen, fashion-forward so-called "hot spots" where everyone looks alike, dresses alike, thinks alike, and if you listen carefully even speak alike. In other words...BORING. Look, I have no problem with well-moneyed folks who are bored and now wish to live in the city to shake their lives up a bit, but I wish they would leave their suburban values and ideals in Weston and Dover. Why they would decide do live here if they didn't already love it in the first place AS IT ALREADY WAS, is beyond me. And what's with all the doggy-mania? I LOVE animals, but holy crap. Dogs have more resources than inner city youth! Costly dog playgrounds?? It's embarrasing. Let's give our disposable $$ to schools and youth groups targed at reaching at-risk youth before it is too late.

November 19, 2007 at 1:27:00 PM PST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Im a Southender and miss the old days for all the new comers if you lived here in the 60s and 70s you would not make it you had to be born in the South End That was our down fall to let you come in and turn it into the shit hole you made it but in time you will move on and it will be the old South End again. I miss the old South End and the old corners Upton Spa. Unoion Park. Hanson St,

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