Sunday, September 07, 2008

Alone In Boston

Our first week in Boston by ourselves was OK. We have no complaints.

Joshua is already immersed in classes, and I am already hard at work in my new job. We have been keeping ourselves thoroughly occupied.

My middle brother and my parents were up at the lake from Thursday morning until early this evening. They had intended to go up to the lake over this weekend to close the house for the season, but the Republican National Convention caused them to exit the Twin Cities two days earlier than planned.

Anarchist protesters caused monstrous traffic difficulties in the Twin Cities during the Convention period. Drivers were forced to abandon the grid of interstate highways that lead into and out of Minneapolis and Saint Paul because protesters were heaving 40-pound bags of dry cement from overpasses onto the interstate highways. It was a miracle that no one was killed. The Minnesota State Police as well as the police forces of Minneapolis and Saint Paul claimed that they lacked sufficient personnel to guard the numerous overpasses on the interstate highways, a situation that forced the local populace to avoid the interstates and main thoroughfares altogether in favor of side streets. The result was a total breakdown in traffic flow.

After experiencing Tuesday morning’s rush hour himself and after learning about the overpass situation early Tuesday afternoon, my father told his staff to go home early in order to avoid the Tuesday afternoon rush hour and, further, he told them to work from home for the remainder of the week.

After witnessing Tuesday’s traffic nightmares both in the morning and afternoon rush hours, my brother’s office simply closed for the week—on Tuesday night, his firm instructed all personnel by email not to return to work until tomorrow morning.

My brother and my parents had contemplated attending one or two of the evening convention sessions in order to hear some of the speeches, but the horrific traffic situation put “paid” to that notion. Further, the fact that cars parked near the convention venue were being vandalized and burned by protesters made a trip to Saint Paul even less attractive to them (and everyone else).

Many other locals who had planned to take advantage of the fact that the 2008 convention was in town, and to attend some of the evening sessions, elected to stay home instead and to watch the proceedings on television.

The talk of the Twin Cities last week, consequently, has been traffic, protesters, and the boorishness (and drinking habits) of leading figures from the news media. I won’t list the names of the major figures from journalism that have been reported to have been drunk during much of the past week, but their daily bar tabs have been reported to be astronomical.

Prior to the convention, I had assumed that people in Edina would be hosting a series of dinner parties for various delegates and politicians and notables in town for the convention.

This did not happen. Instead, such events were conducted in restaurants in downtown Minneapolis, far, far away from Edina. In fact, every fine restaurant in downtown Minneapolis was privately-booked for private affairs for the entire week. Regular diners in Minneapolis surely had to settle for dining at lesser establishments last week or were consigned to eating at home.

This outcome was NOT the result of the fact that idyllic Edina does not allow hotels within city limits. This outcome was the result of the fact that a private dinner held in Edina in honor of President and Mrs. Bush four years ago somehow had been reported in the local newspapers, in breach of all standards of protocol. Unless the Society Editor of the Star-Tribune has been officially notified, no one expects to read about a private function in the newspapers, even if the President Of The United States has been a guest. Edina was justifiably shocked when it read about that purely private function in the pages of both the Star-Tribune and the Pioneer Press in 2004. Four years later, outrage still lingers over that inexcusable violation of the rules of propriety. Understandably, the city did not want to hazard similar invasions of privacy this year, and hospitality was extended not in Edina but in downtown Minneapolis.

There were, of course, corporate receptions all over town for the duration of the convention.

My mother’s family’s company held receptions every night last week, but my mother NEVER attends—and her brothers and her sisters never attend, either—ANY business affairs or ANY business functions involving her family’s company (except for the annual shareholder meetings, or infrequent special shareholder meetings).

My father’s employer held receptions in downtown Minneapolis on Sunday and Monday nights, but he and my mother did not attend because they were on the East Coast on Sunday night and because they were flying home to Minneapolis on Monday night. I doubt that my parents minded missing the receptions of my father’s employer in the least.

The receptions of my father’s employer were invitation-only, but several uninvited journalists, nonetheless, attempted to crash the receptions on both nights. The doormen did their jobs, happily, and did not admit anyone not on the approved lists. (Editors from The Wall Street Journal and The National Review attended the receptions, but those individuals had been invited.)

It’s probably all for the best that my brother and my parents went up to the lake a couple of days early. This enabled them to escape town during a very trying week. Moreover, the lake house has been used hardly at all this year—one previous weekend, plus the week of July 4, and that’s all—and my brother and my parents were able to enjoy a quiet, restful, relaxing, stress-free extended weekend. They deserved it.

Of course, the dog did not object to four days at the lake in the least.


  1. "Edina" stands for: "Every Day I Need Attention".

    You Cake Eaters!

    Only kidding.

  2. I hope it doesn't rain most of the time in Boston, Andrew.

    The rainfall in Chicago in the last week is so high I'm afraid of drowning. It rains every day, every hour, it seems.

    Take care up there.

    I hope that you and Josh are eating well. Have you tasted your first Boston cream pie yet?


  3. P.S.

    You might care to know that I had lunch at Boston Market this afternoon.

  4. Hey, Paul.

    What can I say?

    Julia Duffy (Stephanie on the old "Bob Newhart Show") is from Edina, and Julia was only playing a typical spoiled Edina princess when she portrayed Stephanie.

  5. Hey, J.R.

    We don't worry much about rain and snow and such, because such things are not within our control. We just deal with the weather as it is handed to us each day.

    Josh and I are eating just fine. We've cooked every night since we got the apartment set up to our satisfaction. We haven't missed any meals, believe me.

    Can you believe that I know how to make a Boston cream pie? Boston cream pies are very easy to make, but I have not made one in a long, long time. Perhaps I should make one this coming weekend!

    I love Boston Market's chicken. It's great. However, I don't much care for Boston Market's turkey or ham or meatloaf, and I have never tried Boston Market's steak or pot pies.

    I trust you are having a good week.


  6. Yeah, we can't control the weather. Only Cheryl Studer can.

    Give me the recipe for that delicious-sounding Boston cream pie!!!

    Oh, Bob Newhart: did you watch that show growing up, Andrew?


  7. Cheryl Studer controlling the weather: well, that explains all the current hurricanes.

    I'll send you an email message with a recipe for Boston cream pie.

    I watched the "Bob Newhart Show" a few times when I was a kid. It didn't really appeal to me--I thought all the characters were a little too weird. The show probably appealed to adults more than to kids.

    I hope you are having a good week, J.R.