What a crazy week.
So much has already been written and said about the Boston Marathon bombings – eloquent pieces here, here and here, for example – it’s hard to add anything new or different. As a Facebook friend said, no one wants to wallow in grief porn.
I spent several years at Northeastern University, and many afternoons/evenings/nights on Boylston Street. It hasn’t changed much – the awnings on the restaurants and bars have changed, but the ancient cobbles peeking out from their concrete cover are still there, the strength Boston was built on.
When I moved into Boston as a freshman, it was only the third time I’d ever been there in my life. My little New Hampshire town is only 2.5 hours away, but then it might as well have been on the moon. (This is pre-Internet, kids. Look it up.)
My first night at NU, a group of brave freshmen ventured down Huntington Avenue to Copley Square. On the way back, we saw a fistfight – not a high school scuffle, but a no-punches-pulled fistfight – break out when a group of guys crossing the street had an issue with a car that came too close. Fingers were flipped, cars were emptied, punches were thrown, and a group of little freshmen scurried back to their dorm.
Welcome to Boston.
My first photographs were of the Christian Science Center, a block away from Boylston. Digging through a box last weekend, I found the faded black-and-white negatives, still held in a red Northeastern binder with a sticker from the college radio station on the cover.
One of my first assignments as the newly minted, over-his-head photo editor for the Northeastern school newspaper was to photograph the end of the marathon in Copley Square. The results were predictably bad – I was more than a little over my head – but I remember the huge pressing crowds on every side, so close together we could barely move, let alone run away from anything.
I remember buying a pair of huge black boots at an Army/Navy surplus store on Boylston, and my girlfriend at the time laughing at me as the hard rubber soles slipped and slid in the snow outside.
A brilliant Sunday spring morning when all was right with the world, an editor at the Boston Globe tossed me the keys to his Mazda Miata convertible and told me to go do a weather story. The people eating ice cream at JP Licks on Newbury Street (since closed) were happy to talk about the spring weather.
Cruising up Boylston Street, the top down and the sun out on a May day – it didn’t get much better than that.
On a similar day this year, as thousands of Boston marathon runners churned toward the finish line, two bombs went off. Three people were killed and more than 150 injured. After a five day manhunt, locking down the city, one alleged perpetrator was killed and the other found cowering under a tarped-over boat in Watertown.
Boston is already rebounding – the last terrorist was caught Friday night, and by Saturday afternoon, David Ortiz was proclaiming “This is our $#&%ing city!” as 38,000 roared in approval.
Some wounds will never heal – the monsters killed children, girlfriends and brothers in their rampage. But the strength - #BostonStrong – carries on.