MBTA Clusterf&%k Before Yo La Tengo

Yesterday I was caught up in that MBTA clusterf#%k. Oh, good times. MBTA dahrling, you don’t stop surprising me, a new problem everytime. At least you’re being creative, you’re not boring me to death.

TMB and I got to Davis at 7:15pm to take the train. The platform was busy, but OK I thought, maybe that’s just commuter / rush hour traffic. The train came, but I noticed something strange: the sign on the front car, instead of reading Ashmont or Braintree, read “Central Sq”. Strange, but then again MBTA have messed up systems anyway (like the automated stop-announcing system getting stuck to “Next Stop Charles MGH” for 10 stops), so I didn’t worry too much.

Well, maybe I should have: after boarding the train there came an announcement that nobody was able to make out, just because the PA system on the trains is so lame and inefficient. But we were able to hear the PA the third time it announced that the last stop for this train would be Central Sq and then there will be shuttle buses from Central to JFK. Great, MBTA wants to prove us right, that they DO suck indeed. The train was being very slow, standing by every few yards for 10 minutes.

Right after leaving Harvard the train stopped again. For a long time that felt like forever. People grew agitated and kept asking what did they say and what was that, cause as I mentioned before the PA system is just useless. There was this woman, who kept asking the same questions: Her: “What did they say?” Us:”They said that Central would be the last stop and then they would have shuttle buses from Central to JFK” Her: “Shuttle buses?!” Us: “Yes, shuttle buses from Central to JFK” Her: “But I want to get off at Park” Us: “[Silence]” Her: “So the next stop after Central will be JFK?” Us: “No, the shuttle buses will make all the stops in between” Her: “Shuttle buses?!” Us: “[Please somebody shoot me in the eye right now]”

These moments were just precious: there was this guy in his early twenties, who was asking questions too, like “Is it always like this?” Hmmm, interesting, I thought, a tourist marveling at how hard MBTA works to boost tourism in the greater  Boston area. People were trying to sort of explain the situation, although at that point we really didn’t know what had caused the service interruption: did somebody jump in the tracks, touched the third rail, then got run over by the train? Well, that would be a bitch to clean up. [Note: These were actually thoughts, not shared with the out-of-town visitors]. I think the guy at some point got embarrassed about his own questions, so he explained to us that he had grown up in a town with 10k population, and he went to college to a town with 1,000 people. “Is this what’s going on in the big city?” he wondered aloud. Oh, yes, the bad big city welcomes you.

After 10 minutes the train finally started moving again. But backwards! Yes, it started backing up to Harvard again, which btw was the last stop for this train. Um, OK… We got out of the train and was asking the conductor questions, and the poor woman was ready to cry. She was like “I don’t know what’s going on, I don’t get any answers!”. So then she was like “You’ll have to go up and take the shuttle bus from the street”. That’s great, but there’s a minor detail, there are like 20 possible places around Harvard Sq where shuttle buses could be picking people from. She didn’t know. Oh, well… We got out, after 5 minutes we saw the shuttle buses, and the masses of people waiting to board. Arghhh…

On another example of common sense or lack thereof, the driver of the shuttle bus had only the front door open for people to board on the bus. There was this MBTA woman working outside, trying to organize the chaos and she was yelling “OPEN THE REAR DOOR”. It took the driver a couple of minutes to realize that opening both doors would speed up the process, and btw you are a flippin’ shuttle bus. We were able to get on the next bus, and were securely packed in like sardines. It was hot and stuffy, and when we got to Charles MGH we got off, cause I couldn’t breathe. So, it took us one hour from Davis to Charles MGH. Jeez!

We walked from Charles to the Wilbur Theatre. Yes, that was the destination, the Wilbur Theatre to see Yo La Tengo play live. TMB would have liked to get  a beer, but we didn’t really know what time exactly YLT would be on, so we decided against it. I needed hydration badly, so I got a bottle of water from the theatre which cost it’s weight in gold ($4). Yura Yura Teikoku opened, a japanese psychedelic band and some of their songs were good. I took some photographs, it was really good that the staff didn’t go around bitching about the use of an SLR. Yes, I DID ignore the signs outside saying NO photography or video are allowed, cause I just spent $4 for a 99c water bottle,  I think it’s OK if I take a couple of photos and video clips, which btw you can see here.

Yo La Tengo got on at 9:20. I liked the backdrop with the colored buttons. Georgia is an amazing drummer, so fluid, so darn good. Ira made noise, as in lots of noise! There was a surprise: a six string ensemble joined them for a couple of songs, students from the area that YLT had only met yesterday. The highlight of the night was Little Honda: a super extended version, with super long solos, Ira going totally crazy, two violin players joining and a first sight for me: a violin up close against the amp for distortion. Can it get better than this?! At that point I thought I had lost my hearing, but was content. In summary, they kicked ass big time!



Mogwai played live in Boston at the Wilbur Theatre on May 1. I really like their music and of course they didn’t disappoint. I always think that their music will be the perfect soundtrack for the film I’ll someday make. And I’m sure they are already on board. I mean there is the undeniable Scottish connection: they are from Glasgow, I lived in Edinburgh for one year. I know, pretty astonishing.

It was the first time I’d been to the newly renovated Wilbur Theatre. It is kinda cozy, not too big, not too small, there is a standing-only general admission area, and then mezzanine and balcony seating. The sound was pretty good and what would a Mogwai concert be without good sound? Oh, yes, it would be a Caspian show at the Middle East, if you know what I mean. Btw, I saw the tall guy from the band at the Mogwai show, taking detailed notes, I’m sure.

Anyway, I had a very good mezzanine seat and thankfully no 7 feet tall guy sitting in front of me. As I mentioned, the theatre was recently renovated, but at some point there was plaster from the ceiling falling on  the people in front of me. Nothing major, just makes you wonder what the place will look like in a year.

This is a video I shot at the concert with my Nikon D90. The camera gets heavy after a while. Really.