Tuesday, October 17, 2006


The Boston accent is one of the weirdest I've ever heard. It's something about the 'a's. They say 'smaaert' rather than smart, 'haaered' instead of 'hard'. The tram driver looked at me like I was retarded for not understanding that the stop for 'Haaervaaerd' was 'Paaerk Aaevenue'. In fact, in retrospect, they sound a bit like Cartman.

It's Fall, and the famous New England foliage is beginning to turn to reds, golds and a whole bunch of dirty leaves in the gutter. Rob, Pilar's fiance lives in a very swish part of town, Newton, where the houses resemble small town halls; romanesque mansions, montrous doll houses and haunted looking, grand old victorian villas, all turrets and brocade edges. One morning I went out for a photo-taking walk, but I went the wrong way, sorry. Here are a couple of the mediocre ones anyway...

Rob provided a running commentary - Boston is very old, settled in the 1500s and its rambling streets are built around hubs where goods were traded. So no grid system - without it Americans get lost very easily (not kidding). We got lost a few times.

It feels like an educated town, like the students would have jolly good fun but probably pass all their exams as well. In fact, we were given an alternative tour of Harvard - a beautiful, stately campus - by two enterprising students, who told us that:
  • 2/3 of students come from public school backgrounds, and the average $ allocation for those without means is $25,000 (courses are $45,000). Students are welcomed from all parts of the world, with one stipulation: They must be uber-bright, possibly sporty, community-minded and generally the type who made head girl/boy.
  • There is a 'war' between the local council of Cambridge and Harvard. The Uni doesn't pay taxes on its buildings, so Cambridge attempts to prevent expansion. Harvard votes 65% democrat; Cambridge 90%. There is even a rumour that Cambridge firefighters let the Memorial Hall burn because of the feud.

  • The Hall itself resembles a church because the builders were weirdo Masons. It is also the only memorial in the US to exclude soldiers who died on the wrong side - the confederate soldiers aren't listed even though ex-Nazis are listed elsewhere.
  • Harvard is the wealthiest University in the US, with billions in endowments.
  • The library was donated by a woman whose son died on the Titanic. One of her stipulations is that fresh flowers are purchased each day for the reading room dedicated to her son, otherwise the building is donated to Cambridge (boo, hiss).

The best prank between arch rivals Yale and Harvard came at a football match, where Yale students posing as Harvard pep-talkers, gave out placards to the fans. When they held them up in the air simultaneously, a roar went out from the Yale end of the field; the cards spelled out "WE SUCK".

The statue of John Harvard is not actually of Harvard, because no likeness remains of him. It is thought that the model was one of his students. It looks like they chose 'most likely to make a great impression on the ladies' - he's hot!

People rub his foot for luck. Harvard students piss on the foot at night. However, he did have great taste in shoes.

A Philosophy building had enscribed above it words by, I think, Emerson (who I am a recent fan of). It says: "What is man that thou art mindful of him." A Cat cocktail to the first correct answer (which means, given this is a niche audience blog, I may be drinking alone. When I Google the answer...)


Finally, we found a shop where you can 'make' your own teddy bear. In reality, you choose one rub a little felt heart, stick it inside then they fill it with stuffing, ass first. The whole shop was basiically an Accessorize for teddy bears. Here are the shoes

More pics here. This post is a bit bedraggled cos I am tired, going to bed....

1 comment:

Derek said...

Psalm 8.4-6

What is man, that thou art mindful of him? Or the son of man, that thou visitest him? Thou madest him a little lower than the angels; Thou crownest him with glory and honor, and didst set him over the works of thy hands.

I like the pic of you riding the donkey! That should be your blog-photo.