All Hail: Agitated in Allston

I’ve been calling Lower Allston, which I presume earned its moniker for being that much closer to hell, home for the last year. I was lured in by tales of culture and art and music and – most of all – remarkably low rent. Sounds perfect! The truth is, reality paints a very different picture.

A typical day in Allston goes a little something like this: First you have to wake up at least an hour earlier for class than if you lived on campus. Then you trek down filthy Harvard Avenue to the B-line where the slightest breeze knocks dirt, grime and dried frat-boy vomit over your glasses and into your eyes. Once you get to the Harvard Avenue T-stop the train will undoubtedly be packed.

For those unfamiliar with the B-line, it’s the public transit of choice for Boston University students who are physically incapable of walking the equivalent of a few blocks.

The best bet is to get off at Hynes Convention Center, since waiting for an E-train at Arlington is like waiting for a unicorn to fly you to class. Then begins the journey to Northeastern’s campus, which means traversing what, in my opinion, is the grossest stretch of Massachusetts Avenue in Boston. If you make it through the various vagabonds and throngs of Berklee students (it’s usually hard to tell the difference), you reach your destination.

But after a long day at school and another hellish commute on the way back, what do you have to come home to?

Personally, I greet my home each night, “Hello, slum.” The houses are disgusting, mouse-ridden and in complete disrepair. In my house, I’m certainly getting my $465 a month’s worth as the faucets leak, the paint’s peeling, and the lawn is full of trash blown in by the wind. It’s also cheap because many of the houses are packed with far too many people. (I know some cases where eight or more people are living under one roof.) Have you ever tried cleaning a house full of nine vegan hipsters? Believe me, it’s not pretty, and after about 48 hours, it’s just filthy all over again.

What about all that culture and art and music I’d heard so much about? It’s true, there are some great people in the area who are honestly committed to improving the arts scene and providing quality programming. However, I’ve found the majority of people living in Allston are rich, white kids who think living in abject squalor gives them some sort of indie cred. Most of the people I’ve met claiming to be artists and musicians (of course with a few exceptions) would rather “jam” with some “buds” than try to accomplish anything innovative, exciting or important in the art or music world.

I’m not the first to showcase how awful Allston is. In his book “The Absolute Worst Places to Live in America,” author Dave Gilmartin describes the people of Allston as ” … pathetically suffering from the Peter Pan-like delusion that they’ll never grow old or irrelevant.”

Still, I can’t sign off without saying a few positive things about Allston. I always feel safe here, safer than I have in say, Mission Hill, or even around campus. What’s the worst that can happen? A waifish wannabe-DJ tries to make me listen to the new Arcade Fire album?

Leave a Reply