Joe Lavin

April 6, 2004

Unconventional Wisdom

The Democrats are coming to Boston this summer, and aside from John Kerry nobody here seems very happy about it. Considering that this is one of the bluest of the blue states, it makes sense that we're hosting the Democratic Convention, but unfortunately it looks more and more like this convention will cause a giant logistical nightmare.

Because of security concerns, the Secret Service is considering the possibility of having to shut down a significant area around the Fleet Center, where the convention is taking place. Every week, we hear of yet another potential traffic headache, because that's just what Boston needs -- more traffic headaches.

Already, it has been announced that the highway that heads downtown past the Fleet Center will be closed whenever John Kerry is in the building. The train station next to the arena will also be closed; all train passengers headed there will have to take a bus for the final leg of their journey. And Republican Governor Mitt Romney is gleefully blaming any traffic problems on the Democrats. Never before has a Governor ever been this excited at the prospect of a traffic jam in his state.

It used to be that a party would gain votes in a city by holding their convention there. Now, it seems that all the hassle and inconvenience can only take votes away. It's no wonder that neither convention is being held in a swing state this year.

There is, however, some good news, especially for those willing to leave town that week. Hotel rooms are so sparse that apparently some people are willing to pay thousands of dollars to rent houses for the week of the convention. Some homes are fetching as much as $6,500 for that week. At Craig's List, neighbors of mine in Somerville actually want $2,000 for a two-bedroom apartment that week. Hey, at that price, I'm all for having the Democratic Convention here. Maybe we can host one every year.

Actually, $2,000 is only the asking price for that Somerville apartment, and I doubt they are really going to get that. Frankly, Iím a little skeptical about these prices. Will Democrats really shell out that much money? Can many of them even afford that? Itís too bad the Republicans arenít coming to town instead because then we could really clean up. We could take all the money they got from the Bush tax cuts and plug it right back into the economy, by which I mean my bank account.

I haven't quite decided whether renting my apartment is worth the hassle, but Iím willing to listen to offers. For those democratic fat cats who would like to stay in lovely Somerville for the convention, my e-mail address is on the right. Special preference will be given to those with a limited knowledge of Boston geography.

In other housing news, the Secret Service is desperately trying to find an apartment on Beacon Hill in Boston. You see, that's where Democratic nominee John Kerry lives, and the Secret Service wants to be across the street from his house in order to protect him. There's only one problem. The area is so exclusive that the Secret Service canít actually find a place. It says something about how tight the housing market is in Boston when even the Secret Service can't get an apartment.

According to a local television station, the Secret Service wants an apartment with more than one room looking directly at Kerry's front door -- hey, who doesn't? -- but realtors say that the only way they are going to get that is by using taxpayer dollars to buy an entire house. Houses in that neighborhood are worth more than $6 million, while one nearby condo is selling for $1.6 million. Itís one thing when your tax dollars are at work. Itís quite another when theyíre out buying swanky real estate.

Perhaps the only solution will be for John Kerry to move to a less exclusive neighborhood so that the Secret Service can keep an eye on him at a more affordable price. And, speaking of less exclusive neighborhoods, I think I might have a plan.

Hey, John, why not move to Somerville? Iíll have a spare bedroom this summer, and my price is considerably lower than $1.6 million. There's even a futon in my living room that the Secret Service can sleep on. It could be the perfect solution.

Just make sure those Secret Service agents don't throw any of their loud, raucous parties. My landlords won't stand for that.

©2004 Joe Lavin

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Meeting up with the True Believers
Thanks to, political campaigns have found a new way to organize. This site was designed to facilitate meetings between people with similar interests, but presidential candidates are getting the most use out of it. In an attempt to understand this new online breed of political activism, I recently attended a John Kerry meetup in Boston. In an attempt to be cruel, I dragged my friend Anna along. Don't worry. I'm sure she'll get me back later. ( More.... )

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