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May 2nd, 2007


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11:01 am - PAPER PEOPLE EVERYWHERE
Hooray, hooray, it's the second of May! I don't have to see that stupid goddamn song lyric everywhere I look for another whole yearrrr...ay!

Well, it had to rhyme somehow.

Say, how do you get your Free Boston Newspaper when you get one? Do you take one from the stand, or do you avail yourself of the services of a conveniently-placed newspaper-giver-outer? I usually go and get one from a friendly newspaper-giver-outer at the T stop before I go to work. But now in South Station, I have to run the Gauntlet Of Other Newspaper Giver-Outers. If I were to graciously take a copy from everyone I run into, I'd have a stack of papers of my own... which I'd probably then stop and try to give away for free. There used to be one or two hawkers; now I'm dodging newspaper giver-outers by the hogshead.

See, time was when I saw two, maybe three newspaper-givin' people out there during my Red Line commute from Davis to South Station. The first one was a Portuguese gentleman in the Davis T stop, handing out copies of the Metro. He was a very nice fella. Then he was accompanied by an older guy who loved hollering "MET-ro pay-PAH!" and was always very friendly and wished everybody a good morning. I don't even think he was an actual Metro employee; he looked old enough to be living in nearby Ciampa Manor and who just loved hanging out in the morning playing paperboy and chatting with the nice people went by. Sometimes I felt conflicted as I liked both fellows and felt bad if I took the paper from one guy and didn't from the other.

Then there was the cool black lady in South Station who had a lovely sing-song cadence: "Free MET-ro, good MOR-ning!" She made a point to say hi to all the kids who happened to be going by with their parents, and said "Good morning, Sista!" to every other black woman she saw. While I fit in neither category, I thought it was kind of neat, but wondered if any of the women ever felt uncomforable by the greeting.

Then one day they disappeared. And I saw that the Metro was hiring paper giver-outers. Did they cut everybody and re-hired anew to save money on raises or something? The new people were shaky, nervous, and the turnover is swift. Davis Square has seen quite a few since just January. There's been a new woman at South Station for a while and she started out real nervous, but I've noticed over time how she's became friends with the older woman who sells the Herald by the ramp to the escalators. One presumes that has picked up a few pointers from the Herald lady as she now sounds a bit more, well, professional as a paper-hawker.

Then along came BostonNOW, the brand-new revolutionary newspaper that's indentured servant blogger-driven and what uses absolutely no sensationalism whatsoever to push copies (an empty playground swing with the headline ARE CHILD PREDATORS IN YOUR NEIGHBORHOOD? A picture of an Evil Man in a Ski Mask using a Laptop and the headline DATA CROOKS WANT TO STEAL YOUR IDENTITY! They're the Channel 7 of newspapers.) BOstonNOW!!1 saw that the Metro was employing people to give out free papers, so they decided to bring their own on the scene. Metro retaliated by putting even more paper giver-outers in the busier T stops. And none of them know from hawking papers, but they're everywhere.

At South Station they're on the subway station concourse, they're outside on the train platforms, near the Atlantic Ave crosswalk, along the length of Summer Street near where the car service folks hang out. THEY'RE EVERYWHERE. Maybe BostonNOW(TheRestOfYouSchlubsLATER) could run a scary picture on their front page of people in brightly colored vests with stacks of newspapers. DAILY ACCOSTING! the headline could screen. WILL YOU BE NEXT?! ARE YOUR CHILDREN, ON THEIR WAY TO THE CHILDREN'S MUSEUM, SAFE? For the luvva Pete, someone bring Hank Phillipi Ryan in on the case!

There's the newsboy stereotype, you know, EXTRY EXTRY READ ALL ABOUT IT, ELIOT NESS CONFRONTS AL CAPONE'S GOONS IN AN ALL-OUT SHOOT-OUT! The one thing they had going for them, besides using the word "EXTRY" and phrases like "Aw, nuts to yer old man!" when someone gave 'em a wooden nickel, was their exuberance and enthusiasm. They proclaimed they had papers, there was something great to read in the papers, and maybe you should think about getting a paper.

This new breed of paper giver-outers has no such exuberance. While their job is dependent on fulfilling a quota of Papers Given Out, they don't treat the product as newspapers. They treat it as Yet Another Handout That Most People Won't Take -- or, worse yet, treat it as some form of mendicant's job.

"Metro paper?" one asks, dully hopefully, sticking a newspaper out half-heartedly. "BostonNOW? Newest paper in town?" the other asks, as if he is unsure himself of what he's hawking. All repeatedly in the same tone as, say, "Any spare change? Spare change? Spare change?" And when two rival newspaper giver-outers are near each other, they try their best to outquestion the other. See, the Metro's whole reason for employing newspaper giver-outers in the first place was to add to their newspaper the Personal Experience, a friendly face attached to the newspaper brand that you see every morning, with whom you exchange wishes for a good day as you rush by to your train. That personal experience is completely diminished if you have to dodge a chorus line of sullen hawkers who can't remove that question mark from their pitches, and thus keep a copy of your paper firmly in hand as you run by them so they don't try to single you out for a half-hearted offer.

Even the Herald has been getting into the act at South Station, giving away in the afternoon the copies they couldn't sell for four bits in the morning. I hear the Glob practices this as well elsewhere in town, but South Station, boy howdy that's Herald territory. And their hawkers at least know the ropes. "FREE HERALD!" one guy on Summer Street routinely bellows, which of course prompts me to really want to reply with the ol' chestnut "RIGHT ON! HE DIDN'T DO NOTHING!" But so far, I've resisted temptation. I mean, I bet he hasn't heard THAT one in two, maybe three hours.

(20 comments | Leave a comment)

Comments:


[User Picture]
From:fancycwabs
Date:May 2nd, 2007 04:22 pm (UTC)
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Third time's the charm for tags!

The first time I heard that rhyme, it was a variant by my calculus teacher in high school that read "Hooray hooray for the twelfth of May, Chicken-Fat Canning Begins Today."

The second time I heard it, it was in God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater. I can't claim to not like it simply because it's popular now, although I can't recall ever knowingly participating in the celebration on that specific day (Mobile Alabama has year-round outdoor fucking. One of the joys of subtropical living).

(I comment on the poem because I have no opinion whatsoever on where Bostonians get their paypahs.)
[User Picture]
From:fancycwabs
Date:May 2nd, 2007 06:34 pm (UTC)
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Also, if you have an aversion to that song, or any of Coulton's other songs, be sure and stay away from Johnny D's in Somerville tomorrow night.
[User Picture]
From:derspatchel
Date:May 2nd, 2007 06:56 pm (UTC)
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There is but one bit of spring doggerel that I enjoy. My grandfather taught to me when I was but a wee lad:
Spring has sprung, the grass is riz;
I wonder where the birdies is.
Astute readers will note that the above couplet does not in any way involve outdoor fucking or copious amounts of outdoor fucking or any other aspect illustrated in the overquoted song, which I think is about as funny as a cry for help.

On the other hand, birdies is always funny, as well as Ogden Nashifying the past tense of "rise" (Nash, Spike Milligan and others have been credited with the couplet, though I have yet to find proof as to the actual author.)
[User Picture]
From:violacat
Date:May 15th, 2007 12:40 am (UTC)
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The little boids is on the wing
Ain't that absoid?
The little wings is on the boid!
[User Picture]
From:hemlock_martini
Date:May 2nd, 2007 04:35 pm (UTC)
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In my own self-defense, I've never heard the song and only ever read the lyric earlier this year. Thought I'd go ahead and use it once.
[User Picture]
From:fancycwabs
Date:May 2nd, 2007 06:15 pm (UTC)
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You've never heard the song?

I shan't link to it here, but I'll confess to a bit of surprise considering that the author of that song wrote this song which immediately reminded me of you. Coulton's oeuvre is pretty much aimed squarely at the h_m demographic.
[User Picture]
From:ron_newman
Date:May 2nd, 2007 06:33 pm (UTC)
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I've never heard the song either. My first attempt to locate its title, author, and lyrics didn't succeed. I don't recall hearing it sung at yesterday's May Day festivities by the Charles.
[User Picture]
From:fancycwabs
Date:May 2nd, 2007 06:36 pm (UTC)
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As much as I dislike using Spatch's comments section for songs he's at the very least mildly tired of, I'll simply say ahem.
[User Picture]
From:fancycwabs
Date:May 2nd, 2007 06:37 pm (UTC)
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Also, see comment above in re: Hearing the song live in Somerville tomorrow.
[User Picture]
From:hemlock_martini
Date:May 2nd, 2007 07:53 pm (UTC)
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I'm familiar with Jonathan Coulton, I just haven't paid him much attention.
[User Picture]
From:vanguardcdk
Date:May 2nd, 2007 04:57 pm (UTC)
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I wish they'd give free Globs Globes out at the end of the day at South Station. That would rock. I see more than enough Heralds dumped on the seats on the Commuter Rail.
[User Picture]
From:pushupstairs
Date:May 2nd, 2007 05:25 pm (UTC)
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Downtown Crossing is also a fucking mess now with the free paper hawkers. There used to be one single, solitary, lonely Metro guy who stood near the corner entrance to Macy's at Washington & Summer/Winter. He was in a nice spot - nearby to the subway and sufficiently in The Major Downtown Pedestrian Intersection, but not in your way. I'd grab my Metro from him if I had forgotten to snag it at Sullivan or if poor Jose was just too surrounded at the time I went by.

Then BostonNOW came along. They had a guy stand practically in the path of exiting escalator travellers coming out of the Orange Line southbound-side entrance where the little police shack sits. I had to actually plow through him Jerome Bettis-style on two occasions to exit to the street during the first week of BostonNOW. They also had TWO guys stand over at the T/Filene's Basement entrance by the fruit stand.

Then all fucking hell broke loose. At this point, I think there are 5 hawkers within 10 feet of the police shack, plus the original Macy's entrance Metro guy, plus 5 or 6 of them by the fruit stand entrance... and the fucking NOISE they all make, Jesus Froghumping Christ. If the clock bells at Filene's are ringing, I can barely hear them over all the BOSTONNOWGETYERMETROMETROFREEBOSTONNOWFREEMETROBOSTONNOWMETROGETYOURFREEMETROBOSTONENOWFREEBOSTONNOW

Some days, they're all so in your face that I want to go around and kick every last one of them in the kneecap.

PLUS, then after I get to work I immediately take the T over to South Station to gather up bucketloads of mail, and have to deal with YET ANOTHER gauntlet of free fucking newspapers that I've already read from cover to cover by that point.

Interestingly, it seems that BostonNOW has given up hawking in Sullivan Square, since I've seen only Jose the Metro guy for at least 4 days. At least they have some tact.
[User Picture]
From:derspatchel
Date:May 2nd, 2007 06:01 pm (UTC)
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That is way too much saturation for anyone's good. I fail to see how this can generate any kind of goodwill towards either paper.
[User Picture]
From:pushupstairs
Date:May 2nd, 2007 08:24 pm (UTC)
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I'm tempted to write a letter to both, entitled "Call Off the Fucking War Already, You Shitbirds".
[User Picture]
From:derspatchel
Date:May 3rd, 2007 12:42 pm (UTC)
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This is a noble idea and one worth pursing.
[User Picture]
From:reveritas
Date:May 2nd, 2007 06:00 pm (UTC)
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this is a hilarious post. i like it. that is all.
[User Picture]
From:ron_newman
Date:May 2nd, 2007 06:01 pm (UTC)
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These folks have called themselves Boston NOW for decades and might have reason to be upset by the interloping newspaper's choice of name.
[User Picture]
From:lixie
Date:May 2nd, 2007 06:52 pm (UTC)
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Loved the South Station cadence lady. I had no idea she was gone and I am sad for it.
[User Picture]
From:derspatchel
Date:May 2nd, 2007 07:03 pm (UTC)
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She was wonderful, was she not? I remember her all summer in 2005 and 2006. I don't know where she went or why, but it was always nice to hear her singsong voice coming up from Yet Another Crowded T Ride.
[User Picture]
From:pushupstairs
Date:May 2nd, 2007 08:26 pm (UTC)
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I remember her from as far back as 2002 during the few months that I commuted from Lowell to the waterfront.

she got on my nerves a lot with the way she stood right in the middle ofthat tunnel, but now I kind of miss her and her singular singsonginess (as opposed to her plurality of grumbles and mutters).

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