30 Albums, 30 Stories: This Is Boston, Not L.A.

a4175329535_16This November, I’m telling 30 stories about 30 albums. The albums on this list are not necessarily my favorite albums, but they are the ones that are instantly associated with a time and place. All of these albums represent a chapter of my life. This is the story of those albums, and by extension, the story of me, presented mostly chronologically.

Album 20: This Is Boston, Not L.A. by Various Artists.

In the fall of 1995, I was laid off from Ford though I wasn’t technically a Ford employee. I worked at Ford, but my employer was one of their vendors, John Hancock. Even though Ford laid me off, I was still a John Hancock employee. They gave me two options: I could either be laid off or I could relocate to Boston or Atlanta. I had to be there, ready to work within a month or they’d fill the position. I chose Boston because it wasn’t in the south and it wasn’t landlocked. For some reason, perhaps growing up in the middle of all the great lakes, I need to be around a large body of water. Being landlocked makes me twitchy.

I had never been to Boston before, at least not since I was a kid, but I don’t have many memories of childhood anyway. I told monster that I was moving to Boston. Good luck and goodbye. He decided to move with me. At first, I was annoyed, but then I thought about being alone in an unknown city where I knew no one and I was secretly relieved he decided to go. I reasoned that even a monster for company is better than no company at all.

When I showed up to work at John Hancock on the appointed day, they had no record of my arrival. “I’m sorry. We already filled that position.” “What the fuck do you mean? I just uprooted my life to move here and you’re telling me there’s no job?” So, yeah, fuck John Hancock and his giant signature. I didn’t want to go back to Detroit having just moved, so I got a job with a temp agency who eventually hired me at their corporate headquarters instead.

As an outsider, when you think of Boston, you think of medium to large metropolitan city. I was shocked to find out just how really tiny it is. When we got there, the first thing we did was look in the local weekly for bars to our liking. We found only a few in all of Boston. Detroit had two awesome bars in every square mile. At that time and for a few decades before that, Boston did have a really awesome punk scene though.

We made friends almost immediately. Well, I should say, monster made friends almost immediately. I was never very good at that part. Sometimes, it helps to have a charming asshole with Antisocial Personality Disorder around. Meeting people was always something he was good at.

The second thing I did was find the best local record store where I picked up a re-release of this album with songs from such notable Boston punk bands as The Freeze, The F.U.’s, Jerry’s Kids and Gang Green. Even though this album was released in 1982 and I owned it much earlier on vinyl, this was the first time I owned it on CD. It seemed only fitting and proper that this was the first CD I bought in Boston. It takes me immediately back to 1995 and starting over in a new city.

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