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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

To the Point with Michael Hogan

The issue of “The Mass Media” that you are reading right now is our “Boston’s Best” issue. You know the deal, we tell you where to get the best food and beer, the best bowling and museums. But, these things, at least in my opinion, are not what is best about Boston.

What is best about this city is the underlying oddity that exists just below the surface of all the celebrated tradition and touristy crap that clogs the hearts of locals.

There are strange things about this city (people, places, and events) that are uniquely Boston and I am going to tell you some of my favorites:

Let’s take statues, for instance. We all know about the ducklings in the Public Garden, but did you know that the Public Garden is also home to a granite monument to the discovery of ether. Presented to the city in 1868 the monument to the chemical that was used as a painkiller in the 19th century is overlooked by many who pass it by now. Strange thing to commemorate, even stranger statue.

On the front lawn of the State House at the top of Beacon Hill is another statue that draws a chuckle or two. There astride his horse is Gen. Joe Hooker. Hooker was a civil war general who was known not only for his military prowess but also for the presence of prostitutes in his encampments. There are those who say that Gen. Hooker is the reason we equate the word “hooker” with prostitution. They would likely be wrong, but strange nonetheless.

Oliver Wendell Holmes once called the Massachusetts State House the “hub of the universe.” To commemorate this fact Filene’s Department Store decided to place an elaborate star in the sidewalk outside of their Downtown Crossing store. It is not the presence of this star that is strange, but its current location. The spot that officially marks Boston as “the hub” can now be found peeking out from beneath boxes of oranges and pears at a fruit stand that now stands on the spot.

Phineas Gage was a normal man. That is, until September 13, 1848, when a work accident drove a tamping iron straight through his head. The injury changed Phineas’ personality dramatically. By observing Gage and the effects of his injury doctors of the time were able to make discoveries about the ways that the human brain works. His skull, with holes in both sides, and the rod that changed who he was can be seen at the Warren Anatomical Museum at Harvard Medical School.

There are luxury hotels all over the city of Boston, but none more filled with stories than the Omni Parker House. This is a place of both revolutionary people and revolutionary cooking. The parker house roll was invented here. The official state dessert of Massachusetts, the Boston Crème Pie, was also first made at this establishment. They were also the first to coin the term “scrod,” to decribe a generic whitefish. And, who was it that baked these goods and bused these tables? Why, Ho Chi Minh and Malcolm X, of course. The former communist leader of North Vietnam worked there as a baker in the early 20th century. Malcolm X was a busboy in the 40’s.

About the Contributor
Michael Hogan served as the following positions at The Mass Media for the following years: Editor-in-Chief: Spring 2008; Fall 2008 Arts Editor: Spring 2007; Fall 2007