Sunday 6:11 PM
- I go swimming. The pool is delightfully refreshing, well maintained, and temperate. Sometimes, when I come up for air, I catch glimpses of people in their rooms staring down at the pool. I feel like a lot of Elvis Presley movies were set at hotels where all the rooms were centered around the pool. Oh, the pool— that mighty blue social igniter!
When I return to my room, I try and find a classic Elvis poolside scene, but end up going down an Internet rabbit-hole triggered by a bizarre YouTube upload
of just such a scene purporting to offer evidence of one of the scene's extras being murdered shortly after the film wrapped. It's around this time that it starts to creep in that I am this story's antagonist
, stumbling upon downer free associations and cynical observations, resisting the protagonist's desired effect. I can almost feel you rooting against me as I write this.
Sunday 6:36 PM
- I forgot my guitar in my car, so I go out to get it. The closet hutch in my room has some wallpaper that's actually a photo of a bunch of electric guitars, so I figure why not put an actual one there and see how it feels. The Verb’s website's beautiful glamour-burn-outs are often holding a drink in those promotional snapshots, so I also stop at the liquor store to pick up a bottle of Jim Beam. I'm just experimenting with doing what the hotel wants me to do.
As I get about 20 feet away from the hotel I hear a voice about three feet behind me. “Yeah, I gotta come back here real soon,” it says. I turn around to find a middle-aged man wearing a polo shirt and shorts speaking to me as if we had been conversing for several minutes, but we had not been. It's eerie. “Yeah, I really should come back again soon....soak up some of the atmospheeeeeeeeeeeeeere.” I really can't believe this is a real interaction that's happening.
“Well,” I reply, “you're here now. Why not soak up the atmosphere right now?”
“Gotta get back to Pennsylvania first thing in the morning,” he tells me, shrugging, as if I was a fool for even suggesting it.
Inside, one of the friendly desk clerks who checked me in is delighted to see I have a guitar. By this time, since I've formulated my theory that The Verb is the protagonist and I'm the antagonist, I am under the belief that this is a concept now somehow psychically grasped by all of the staff, and I'm playing all of my cards pretty close to the vest. “Yeah,” I say, “thought maybe I'd take it to my room....strum it a bit.”
“Perfection” the clerk tells me.
Sunday 8:04 PM
- The bathroom is fucking awesome. When you slide the door shut, the back of the door reveals itself to be wallpapered with a giant reproduced photo of a sea of hippie faces wearing granny glasses, the whole thing tinted in a baby blue sheen, and these aren't unpleasant gazes to accompany you when you use the restroom. The shower is a stone container with the 4th
wall being made of glass, no closable door, just a lack of glass where you enter. There is a circular hole in the glass by the sink, so you can reach into the shower and turn it on without any danger of getting soaked before you disrobe. When did this circular-hole-shower-technology arrive? It seems so simple and brilliant and yet I've never seen it before.
I arrived in Boston in 1997, fresh from my suburban home of Dedham, MA, to attend Boston University, just down the street from where I'm currently showering. This area has changed a lot.
When I first arrived in town, Kenmore Square was kind of seedy, but thrilling. It was there I first met the infamous homeless musician Mr.Butch
, outside of the infamous Rathskeller rock club (a true shit-hole that hosted legendary shows by Sonic Youth, The Ramones, Pixies, and R.E.M.). Just as I summoned the courage to venture inside The Rat, the club closed. Soon, all of Kenmore Square's quirky establishments seemed to vanish. Boston University's take on the situation is comically phrased as if it was being spoken by a villain in an 80's comedy: “Although the young found it fun, the square looked like a dangerous eyesore to the BU administration” (Source
– for a more conspiratorial view of the last stages of development in Kenmore Square, see the top comment on the linked article, cheers to BU for not censoring the comment, at the very least
Change and development in any city is necessary and unavoidable, but can you still root for a city and not be OK with thriving bastions of culture being routinely pillaged and steam-rolled (even if these bastions are only fun for “the young” as BU would say)? Is The Verb more of an indicator of this kind of cultural plague in our city, or is it an incredibly rare gem that's opened in defiance of these trends? Why contemplate such a broad question in a standard hotel review? I have no answers.
Again, the bathroom is fucking awesome.
Sunday 10:00 PM
- I'm in a band, and two band members come to visit me in my room. They are the first people I see at the hotel who look anything like the people in the photos on the website, which I will now formally admit, I am absolutely obsessed with. We all have a glass of whiskey and marvel at the novelty of the establishment. When I begin to semi-coherently ramble off some of the ideas I've expressed above, one of my bandmates tells me flat out: “Well look, a new hotel for junkies is not a good business model.” It's so accurate that I laugh really hard, but then continue my dutiful push forward as the story’s antagonist. “It may not be a good business model, but shouldn’t we be mad that it’s such a viable marketing and branding strategy?”
[During the editing of this article, The Boston Globe published a piece entitled High-end hotel adds suite dedicated to The Rat, which detailed the creation of a $500-$900/night room meant to honor the defunct punk club inside The Hotel Commonwealth. I’m never one for absolutes, but maybe irony really is dead?]
Sunday 11:59 PM
- The moon has risen above the buildings that are in the immediate view of my window. I can't believe how incredibly yellow the moon looks tonight, it's a drenched, vivid citrus color. I'm blown away until I realize I'm looking out through one of the color treated window panes in my room. I step to the right, one foot over, and the moon looks like it usually does.
This interaction with the moon is just like my point of view on all of this— the place remains the same, but my perspective on it keeps changing depending on where I stand. I don't like being the antagonist, I'm used to thinking of myself as the protagonist. I want my beloved Boston to thrive and grow, but the “luxury as a way to honor the gritty past”-modus-operandi seems so unaware, unseemly, and off the mark that I can’t help being a crank and yelling about it. At best, it seems like a Disney ride through animated recreations of things that were once powerful enough to actually stir people’s souls and change lives. At worst, it seems to literally help erase those things, almost as if destroying them, or stripping them of their power, a necessity for its existence. Shouldn’t we build myths that are durable enough, outlandish enough to be impervious from ever being repurposed as a way to get you to buy something? I feel like we’re smart enough, creative enough to do that. So why can’t I find one? I've had too much whiskey. I go to bed. As I drift off to sleep in the incredibly comfortable bed I glimpse the tiny little sign they've placed on my nightstand. It reads, “YOU CAN'T ALWAYS GET WHAT YOU WANT” and then, in smaller font below it, something about room service.