Love That Dirty Water                                 Originally Published in the
                                                                                                                                   
SeanMcCallum.com Blog    



It had been more than five years since I'd last visited the great city of Boston, and to be honest, when I was there five
years ago, we didn't really get a feel for what the city was all about... unless you consider swimming in the pond at Boston
Common and hanging out at the IHOP as the only two white people at three in the morning to be "what the city is all about"
(we also took in a Sox game, ate at the Union Oyster House, and spent a night at a ridiculously swanky {for us} hotel
overlooking Fenway, for the record). So with our good buddy Flats having been down there for more than a year, we
figured we were waaaay past overdue for a roaddie, the guts of which I present to you here.


I met my buddy Sully at his place in Oakville just before four o'clock on Thursday afternoon, and considering we knew
we'd be waiting hours for Ronnie, we decided to have a few beverages with Lorne (Sully's old man) and my Dad (who just
happened to be passing through town) while awaiting Ronnie's arrival. In case you didn't know, Ronnie tries to make a
habit of single-handedly delaying roadtrips by multiple hours... I think it's a middle-child thing. In any event, we eventually
got the call from Ronnie and met him, Dinner, and Sneeze over at Dinner's place where we drank one of Skeeter's beers
and laughed uproariously at Skeeter because he was staying home... and by laugh, of course, I mean "congratulated him on
his steadfast dedication to persuing a post-secondary education".


We all piled into Sully's 2006 Toyota Sienna (the Cadillac of mini-vans), and headed for that lonesome midnight highway.
Considering we had planned on being on the road by 4pm, it came as no surprise when Flats called us at 7 and we told him
that we were in Grimsby, a town that is geographically further from Boston than the town from whence we came, if one
can even grasp that concept. So needless to say, we were not making good time.


After stopping for gas and food and duty free (4 cases of beer, 2 bottles of booze - a lackluster performance, if you ask
me), we crossed the border without incident and began trekking the New York State Thruway. I was behind the wheel, but
some of my esteemed colleagues decided to delve into the duty free purchases which we had conveniently stored in a
cooler full of ice in the middle of the van... Yes, it was going to be that kind of a trip. Ronnie, feeling a twinge of guilt for
having delayed us more than 2 hours, vouched to abstain from imbibing, and as a result, when I pulled over somewhere
after Syracuse, Ronnie took the reigns and I joined Sully and Sneeze in the back seat for happy hour in the mobile bar.
Completely illegal, I know, but the windows were so frosted (I'm pretty sure there was more than an inch of ice on the
inside of the windows) that it was impossible to see what was transpiring on the inside... which is probably a good thing,
because Sully, Sneeze and Dinner were half-cut by the time I joined them, and the battle for rear control of the van's HVAC
system quickly turned into the most pointless debate of all-time, until it was supplanted by the debate to determine whether
or not Sully's idea for a http://www.changeyouraddress.com/ business could ever succeed... Did I mention that we were
drinking?


Some of the sonic highlights along the ride were The Who's Who Are You?, Seger's Against the Wind, and Peter
Frampton's Do You Feel Like We Do an unprecedented 2 times! But the supreme highlight of the trip took place when Sully
made use of one of the dicarded receptacles to relieve himself (I managed to grab some classic shots but have chosen not
to display them here, for obvious reasons). Really, the only thing funnier than a guy trying to piss into an emty beer can
while kneeling inside a vehicle careening down the thruway at 120 km/hour is when that same guy tries to throw the can
out the window and manages to soak the driver's side window of his parents new minivan in a fetid coating of his steaming
urine. And yes, I am almost 30 years old and still find that funny. And no, this was not the funniest thing to happen in a
vehicle on this trip. Also, Sneeze managed to pass out in the most uncomfortable position imaginable, remaining that way
for the better part of two hours, the result of which will surely lead to thousands of future dollars spent at the chiropractor.


We arrived at Flats' place sometime after 3am on Friday, and we all piled out of the van and relieved ourselves, not learning
until it was too late that the shrubs and walls we were in the midst of watering actually belonged to a place of worship... I
mean, there's a pretty good chance we were all going to hell before this weekend, but that particular incident pretty well
locked it up. Flats greeted us at the front door, we gave him a disgusting boozed-up man-hug, and soon we were all resting
drunkenly in the comforts of his living room, Sam Adams in hand, watching amateur porn until close to sunrise the way
you're supposed to after driving for nine hours. I'm pretty sure DJ Smitty and his girlfriend made an appearance at one
point, but I was essentially unconscious by then, resting peacefully on a bed near the window that might as well have been
a screen for all it did to keep the wind from coming in (when I woke up my hair looked like Ace Ventura's from the
windscour, and I had a Lloyd Christmas caliber snotsicle).


I have no idea how Flats managed to wake up for work Friday morning.



We woke up sometime after 10 o'clock on Friday with screaming hangovers (Sneeze couldn't even get out of bed) and
walked down the street to Charlie's Sandwhich Shoppe, a South End staple that managed to find it's way onto Danny
Tanner's Clipboard of Fun. (Whenever I go to a city, I compile a list of must-hit food joints and funky bars. This list is
somewhat derogatorily referred to as "Danny Tanner's Clipboard of Fun", taken from the classic Full House episode where
they all go to Hawaii to celebrate the fact that Jesse and Joey have been living with DJ, Steph, and the Olsen twins for 2
years). In any event, the breakfast at Charlie's was all it was billed to be; steaming hot greasy spoon fare in a local diner
setting, the most friendly, accomodating waitress on the planet, and pictures of history and celebrities on the walls; further
reinforcing the fact that you just don't wanna fuck with the clipboard of fun. Serious street cred was earned.


After breakfast, we crawled back to Flats' flat and greened out for a couple of hours (I went out searching for a Dunkin'
Donuts because I heard they were like STDs on a hooker in Boston... I walked for 10 blocks in Back Bay and didn't come
across a single D-squared... doesn't sound like any hooker I've ever been with), before deciding that we needed to get out
of the house. Despite the fact that it was December, paying a visit to Fenway was a no-brainer (second best use of the
phrase "no-brainer" on this trip, for the record), so we piled into the Sully bus and headed for Yawkey. We parked in a spot
that almost guaranteed the vehicle's towing, and stumbled off down the street, with Ronnie showing a complete disregard
for the law by drinking a Silver Bullet en route... it was 2:30 in the afternoon. For some reason, when on these roadtrips,
some of us slip into permanent "force field" mode; Ronnie was definitely the leading candidate at this point.


After numerous attempts to bribe security and maintenance guys to let us in to take a few pictures (the stadium was closed
for renovations) and a couple of candid snaps with the Splendid Splinter statue, we managed to stumble upon a group of
people standing around outside the stadium listening to what appeared to be a tour guide going on about cantilevering and
city codes. Out of sheer curiosity, we stood around this group of about 30 and listened, and when the tour guide said,
"Alright, let's head inside and continue the discussion there", who were we to disobey? It turned out that this was a group
of BU Engineering students, and they were there to learn all about the structure and what Lucchino and the boys were
doing to bring the stadium up to speed. Fantastic. We joined the group somewhere near the back, and before you could say
"Bucky Dent", there we were, sitting inside one of baseball's great cathedrals as the snow fell silently in the outfield. It was
absolutely beautiful. And educational! We learned everything about the past, present and future renovations, and I even
managed to ask a few questions about what they were using for their waterproofing in the outfield bleachers, and whether
or not they had any plans to replace the membranes on their roofing systems in the near future (ABC, baby!... Actually, I
was hoping that I'd be able to use the information to justify writing off the $70 I spent on gas... we'll have to see about
that). Some of the BU students caught on to the fact that we weren't supposed to be there, but they were totally cool about,
joking that we were grad students sitting in for extra credit. We even managed to get in on the big group shot they took at
the end. Great times. As the group was headed up to the luxury suites to check those out, we confessed to our guide that
we were actually from Toronto and had snuck in. He thought it was pretty funny, but then realized that he could definitely
get fired for such a transgression, and told us: "But seriously: You have to get the hell out". Too funny.


We made it back in time to let Flats back into his apartment before the onset of hypothermia (we had his only set of keys
and he was waiting on his front porch in the snow storm when we got there), and began getting ready for the Raps-Celts
tilt. Getting ready for the game, of course, involves little more than showering and drinking, but we needed time for these
things nonetheless. Ronnie had put a call in to Tennessee legend Suicide Brian who was back in town for a few weeks, so
he managed to make it to Flats' place in time to have a few quick beverages before joining us to head out to try to track
down tickets.


It was about this time that we received a text message from Foley saying that his flight was delayed (he was unable to get
Friday off, and as a result had to play the role of big-shot by flying into town for the game). No surprise, really, but a kick
to the groin no-less. We jumped in a cab and received an impromptu history of the Sudan from our cab driver (the only
good cabbie we met all weekend, as documented in this piece), and amazingly, both Suicide and I had a working
knowledge of what he was talking about (both having read Eggers' What is the What). We got to the TD Banknorth (it is a
travesty to refer to it as "the Gahden" - that place is long gone, and the new rink is about as run-of-the-mill as it gets. If you
walked in blindfolded, you'd think you were in Buffalo, or Ottawa, or Philly... a damn shame). We left the ticket brokering
to the two big sales guys, and Ronnie and Dinner didn't disappoint... if it's opposite day. They turned down 6 $25 tickets
together in favour of 6 $15 tickets that they were told were together, but ended up being the exact opposite of together. But
we really weren't all that concerned because we knew we'd be sitting together regardless (force fields), and for $40 a pop
we were in the door and loving life. We had a couple of quick Sam Adams at The Fours, a ridiculously good sports bar
outside the Banknorth, and then headed inside for the tip.


Foley eventually landed safe and sound, and I met him halfway through the first quarter to give him his ticket, missing
OTHL legend Tim Green by mere seconds. Foley inexplicably forgot to get Greener's cell number, but he more than made
up for it by the fact that he was wearing a Calderon jersey. Along with my Bosh jersey, that made approximately five Raps
jerseys inside the arena... Needless to say, Raps fans don't travel in the same numbers as Leafs fans do. It was pretty
funny, because all of the Celtics fans in our sections were incredulous as to why we would ever drive nine hours to watch
a Raptors game, and then our boys in red went out there and showed us exactly why nobody would ever drive nine hours
to watch them. To say that they got blown out would be like saying Lindsay Lohan likes the occasional cocktail. Apparently
the final score was 112-84, but believe me when I say that it was nowhere near that close. The only thing I know is that
the Wade Boggs Specials were going down smooth, and that Brian Scalabrine is an absolute legend in Boston. The crowd
simply can't get enough of him, and when he drained his first bucket, I thought the roof was coming off the place. He's like
the Wade Belak of the Boston Celtics. Another monster highlight was looking up at the rafters and seeing all of those
championship banners... Wow... Just... Wow... It must be what it's like to be a Leaf fan, only the exact opposite.


With three minutes left in the game, we decided that it was time to pay our good friends Chuck and Jack a visit (we left to
the taunts of: "Where the hell are you going? Ten straight 3's and you're right back in this thing!" Classic), and let me tell
you, the Coach and Swirsk did not disappoint. First off, they were interviewing Scal, a class move all around; and
secondly, when I told the Coach that we were meeting him in half an hour at Sully's Tap, he seemed genuinely disappointed
that he couldn't make it ("You know I'd love to boys, but I gotta be on a plane in an hour". Lord love Jack Armstrong).
They posed for this beautiful pic, and with that, we were out of there to grab a shot of Sully in front of his lifelong dream,
and then went for a stroll through the Boston night where Flats gave us an impromtu tour of his newly adopted hometown.
Huge thumbs up to our host for remaining lucid enough to point out historical landmarks (Park Street Church, site of the
Boston Massacre, Faneuil Hall...) as we staggered through the financial district on our way to Felt.


There was a serious dress code in effect at Felt so I had to pull an unprecedented reversal by pulling the switch on my
Raps jersey, which I now had to wear as an undershirt beneath my go-to for the rest of the night. Apparently Foley didn't
get the memo, because he showed up in Seinfeld-esque white sneakers, a Felt faux-pas, which meant that Ronnie and I had
to stand outside and pull the "good cop/bad cop" on the bouncer ("there are 15 of us in there and we're all spending well
over $100 tonight; why don't we ask your manager if he wants us to walk out of here over a pair of white running
shoes..." Works every time). And yes, Foley owns more pairs of dress shoes than our entire entourage combined, but
when he's on vacation he likes to live on the edge a little. Personally, I think he just likes to feel the love. He wants us to
fight for him, to reaffirm his place in the group. Hey, I have no problem with that. Maybe he wasn't held enough as a child,
I don't know.


Once inside the bar, I managed to bump into a few of the seanmccallum dotcomrades. I really had no idea that this little
spam-collector had such a strong following in New England, but I guess I owe Flats huge for doing yeoman's work as far
as spreading the good word goes. I must admit that it can be a little disconcerting when someone you've never met before
calls you by your name because they recognize you from your blog, but I'll take that any day over "why are you leering at
me, you creep."


In any event, we were at Felt because it was Flats' girlfriend's Christmas party, and despite the fact that we were
completely uninvited, we quickly made ourselves at home. I hit up the buffet like it was going out of style, and the
bartenders really had no idea what hit them. And I have to say that Flats' Lady - Mary Callaghan, of the Callaghan Auto
Parts empire - just might be the greatest girl out there. She totally made us feel welcome despite the fact that we were the
exact opposite, and she wasn't the least bit put-off by our seemingly cryptic barrage of colloquial vernacular and endless
inside references; in fact, I think she may have even found some of what we said to be entertaining, which goes a long way
in my books... I mean, sure, she probably broke up with Flats two minutes after we left Sunday morning, having seen the
company he keeps, but from what I could gather, Mary Callaghan gets two massive thumbs up. Anyone who can handle
the likes of us for a weekend should be grappled onto with hoops of steel.


So we drank our faces off at Felt, and for awhile there was talk of catching last call at the Beacon Hill Pub, but by then
Ronnie had found himself a comfortable place on the couch next to the jackets, and we just couldn't bring ourselves to
wake him. Apparently, after going green, he had managed to score Flats' keys. Not exactly the best decision we could have
made, because after the bar emptied and we were able to catch a cab back to Flats' pad, it was only then that we realized:
a) Ronnie wasn't with us, and b) our host was sans latchkey. By this time, Ronnie's phone was dead, so Foley, Flats, Mary
and I stood around outside the apartment debating what to do. We eventually decided that we were heading back to Mary's
place in Southie (I was singing the Springsteen song as we came to the decision, imploring them to "Meet me at Mary's
Place / We're gonna have a party"), and then just as we were walking out to Columbus Ave. to snake a cab, around the
corner walks Ronnie, a google map courtesy of a benevolent bellhop in hand, completely obvlivious to the fact that he
possessed our only means of entry.


When we got back inside, Ronnie went to work on a can of Irish stew while the rest of us chowed on a disgusting
concoction of Taco Bell cheese spread. Sully and Sneeze showed up at some point, and when I asked Sully why he hadn't
just gotten in our cab, he found himself in the middle of a 'Nam flashback and began yelling: "NO MAN GETS LEFT
BEHIND!!!", completely unaware that he'd left Dinner behind. A Little Buddy debate broke out, and Flats, clearly fed up
with the pointless argument (ironically, "pointless arguments" were Mary's highschool "pet peeve"), decide to end it all by
picking up Ronnie's steaming bowl of Irish stew and dumping it all over my hand, shirt, and pants. It was scalding hot and
I still have blisters on my arm, but it was more than worth it to end that particular argument. Without batting an eye,
Ronnie opened another can, and the stew lay resting on the floor for a good two hours before anyone thought to clean it
up. It was definitely that kind of night.


And some point Dinner showed up, and despite the fact that he has no recollection of how he got home or what ensued in
the aftermath, I'm here to say that he was damn near hilarious when sharing an air-mattress with Sully and asking
permission to "kiss his back", and after being denied, pleading "Can we at least snuggle?" I nearly pissed myself when he
said that, but apparently Sully wasn't in the mood, because a Brokeback-like Donnybrook broke out, and by the time it was
all said and done, there was blood all over the floor (and all over Sully's clothes), a friendship on the rocks (they made up
the next morning while sober), a good friend of ours nearly evicted (he lives directly above the landlord), and Foley out the
door in search of a hotel room.


It was pretty much what you might expect from a Friday night in Boston.



We woke up even more hungover on Saturday than we were the day before, and in the category of "not making my head
feel any better", each and every one of us recieved an individual ear-full from Flats' 70-year old landlady for the previous
night's transgressions ("What the hell were youse doin' up there?!? My Goad Damn ceiling's got a crack in it!!! You're a
buncha animals up there!!!). I wanted to kill myself.


We again decided to hit up Charlie's for breakfast, seeing as it did the trick 24 hours earlier. Same result this time: top notch
breakfast nosh. After stealthily sneaking back into the apartment and avoiding all contact with the landlady, Foley, Sneeze
and I decided that we needed to hit up a Starbucks so we could sit cross-legged and recite the works of Walt Whitman.
And let me tell you, it was just what the doctor ordered. A little highbrow culture to break up the savagery running rampant
in that apartment.


Walking the streets of Boston, I have to say, was one of the absolute hightlights of the weekend for me. Boston is an
absolutely beautiful city. There is so much history that you don't even know where to begin, and the architecture gives the
place a kind of old world charm that so many other places are lacking. I really couldn't get enough of the 5 and 6-storey
brownstones. It's the way a city is supposed to be. And on a nice day, you can walk almost anywhere. A totally different
vibe than Toronto.


Anyway, we toured the market and the harbour before meeting up with the rest of the guys (Dinner needed to shop for
some Nike apparel; Sully was walking around town with a bag full of Alexander Keith's). Sneeze and Dinner continued on
with their shopping spree while the rest of us let the Danny Tanner Clipboard of Fun takeover. First stop? Pizzeria Regina
in Little Italy. Huge thanks to my Unkle Mike for the recommendation. Again, Boston's Little Italy just feels like a Little Italy
is supposed to feel, and we eventually found Regina's and went inside to split a pie and a pitcher of Sam Adams. I'm telling
you, this place was the quintessential pizzeria. It was totally rammed on that Saturday afternoon, but the owner still found
time to stop by our table to shoot the shit for a good fifteen minutes while the rest of his staff was getting slammed. Great
guy, and he shot Flats his number in case Flats ever needed to score some tickets (the guy is obviously well connected, and
he has season's tickets to both the Celts and the Sox), as well as giving us the inside scoop on what some of the Red Sox
players are really like (Big Papi? Salt of the Earth. Manny? Completely full of himself. Papelbon's wife? Rhymes with
"runt").


With our bellies full of picture perfect pie, we stumbled off down the road to hit up Sullivan's Tap, a place that has been
lovingly referred to as "the most depressing bar in Boston". As soon as we stepped inside, it was pretty easy to understand
why: the place smelled like a barracks latrine, and let's just say that natural lighting wasn't exactly at the top of the
architect's wish list at the time of construction. But we quickly sidled up to "the longest bar in Boston", and the bartender
started pouring Sully Lights and telling great stories about the history of the place. Shortly thereafter, we hit up the Hoop
Fever; a game that I would pay almost anything to have in my living room; for our weekend's worth of exercise. Flats
showed his supreme athleticism by dropping a 60 on us, and I'm pretty sure we would have stood around there all day
drinking Sully lights and pumping quarters into that game, but we were already 45 minutes late to meet the shopping
couple, so we sadly had to exit stage left.


We popped into the Beacon Hill Pub on Charles Street for a couple of Brubakers (fantastic econo-beer in 16 oz. recycled
bottles) and a round of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons (we met a girl named Sherry, so obviously a serenade was in
order). We also lit up the Fooseball table (it looked a little something like this), and talked to some Steelers fans from
Vancouver. But the highlight of the BHP experience came in the form of a schizophrenic-amateur-homeless-man's Marshall
Mathers, sans meds, who assured us he was born to rhyme any line (when I offered: "give me a hook that swings with
orange", I expected a shivving), before teaching us an intricate handshake that concluded with a move that was
enthusiastically christened: "the exploding panty-dropper". After crazy Jay wandered off to panhandle and search for the
ghost of Sean "Diddy" Combs, I had to justify to Sneeze on a number of occasions exactly why the BHP was on the
clipboard of fun... Um, hello? Are you not sampling these exquisite Brubakers? Needless to say, I guess the BHP is a little
more exciting at 1am than it is at 6pm. But I loved it nonetheless.


We walked down Charles Street all the way to Boston Common, and again, I can't stress enough how gorgeous a city
Boston is. You really can't say enough good things. By the time we got to Back Bay, some of the guys needed to hit the
apartment for a shower, while the rest of us were quite content to continue the Pub Crawl, so we stopped in to Flash's
Cocktails for a few choice IPAs and some Irish Coffees with serious bite. DJ Smitty joined us for a beverage, and we
immediately began dissecting the Trent Edwards era in Buffalo. We concluded that there is definitely Brady-like potential in
the man. Things are looking up in the Queen City.


We decided to do a big-shot dinner Saturday night and hit up Legal Seafood for 9pm. It wasn't exactly on the clipboard of
fun, but believe me, after the afternoon dedicated to all things on the list, everything was gravy for me by that point. The
clam chowder was pretty solid, and the swordfish was top shelf. Most of the guys opted for the Lobster bake, and nobody
even came close to polishing it off. When the bill came, I realized that I had inexplicably left my bank card in the ATM
across the street... This is the third time this has happened to me in the past 2 years... And sure, if you're going to lose your
bankcard, you're better off being in Boston than say... Bolivia, but this fact didn't make it any easier to swallow. I am a
complete idiot. I called the bank immediately, and luckily nobody broke into my account and withdrew the $36 I had
remaining. That was a close one.


We jumped into some cabs and arrived at Revolution Rocks sometime after 11, and as soon as we walked in the door, I
wanted to kill myself. I think this shot of Foley pretty well somes up the way I felt about the place, but again, I was on
borrowed time by this point. The funny thing is, they don't serve beer in glass bottles there, and the reason, I quickly
concluded, is because if they did, I would have been repeatedly smashing myself in the face with them. I had to leave the
bar every 30 minutes or so because the air was so bad in there (Sneeze actually had an asthma attack at one point,
prompting the future hypothetical exchange: "How was the bar last night?" "So bad that it gave me an asthma attack".
That's a shitty bar). But multiple Sam Adams and Bud Lights later, things started to pick up, and when they played Nirvana
for 2 minutes, I began air guitaring on one of the speakers and all was good in the world.


I guess they kick you out at exactly 2 o'clock in Boston, because it felt like they called for last call and then the bouncer
was immediately announcing: "You ain't got to go home, but you got to get the FUCK outta HERE!!!" (nice tip of the cap to
the Fresh Prince of Bel Air). I'm under the impression that Foley took home the bigshot of the year award for picking up
the tab on the bottle of Goose... what a legend. It took us a good 40 minutes to flag down a cab out front of the bar, and
I'm pretty sure we received a call from the recently betrothed Phatty while wating, and I was told last night that we may
even have left a couple of taunting messages for Skeeter during this time. I'm also pretty sure that we managed to perfect
the "Exploding Panty-Dropper". Beyond those vague images, it was all a blur except for the ice-balls and the narrowly
averted race riot.


When Foley was eventually able to score us a cab, myself, Ronnie, Dinner, Foley, and Flats piled in, and the cabbie then
bore witness to one of the five greatest moments of my life. I can't go into explicit detail, but let's just say that there was a
great deal of explicit detail being discussed, and there was a malfunctioning blackberry involved... When we stepped out of
the cab at Mary's place in Southie, I literally collapsed on the sidewalk because I was laughing so hard. It was a
Shakespearean moment of tragic revelation that I will never forget.


Mary was kind enough to offer some Sam Adams Light and her place for a few of us to crash in, and Ronnie paid back the
favour by sleeping in Mary's bed, leaving her to rest for the night on a recliner. Class act.



We woke up the next morning, shook away the cobwebs, and got back on the road, heading for home. It was one of the
great weekends I've had, and we are forever indebted to Flats, Mary, and DJ Smitty for showing us such a good time, and
perhaps more importantly, for putting up with us. I for one can't wait to do it again soon.




Well I love that dirty water
Aww-Ohh, Boston: you're my home...



- The Standells
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