The Olympics and Boston

Over the past 20 years or so, whenever the topic arose–or something close enough to the topic for me to connect the two–I’ve asserted that tribal infighting, lack of vision, and parochialism would prevent Boston ever from hosting the Olympic Games. Now my prediction is being tested. Boston 2024 is barraged with criticism, observers are calling for the IOC to reject Boston’s candidacy, and Boston’s pretensions at being a world-class city are met with eye-rolling. Shirley Leung’s Globe piece today nails the dilemma.

Boston 2024’s problem? It’s not [John Fish], it’s us . . . At stake is nothing less than Boston’s reputation. So far the world knows we’re great at taking people down, making sure nobody gets too big. Instead we should be showing how a city that pulled off the Democratic National Convention is now emerging as a life sciences capital and undergoing a wholesale makeover of its skyline.

A successful 2024 Olympics should establish Boston’s bona fides as a world city of the 21st century. The Games could provide the motivation to fix the T, improve bridges, roads, and traffic circulation, update aging utility and telecommunications infrastructure, rehabilitate parks and public venues, create jobs, and invite investment. Making all of that happen would not be easy, and of course there are risks it goes off the rails. But does anyone see such necessary improvements happening within the next decade without a huge spur like the Olympic Games? Will Boston have a plausible claim to world-class status if a critical mass of such improvements does not occur?

I understand glass half-empty thinking. That’s how I’m wired. But even I see that everyone needs to get behind Boston 2024.

Half-empty glass

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Google + April 1 = Jokes Not Everyone Gets

This year’s April Fool from the Googlers. In an April class in 2008 an earnest student explained Google’s radical new product, Google Custom Time–“just click ‘Set custom time’ from the Compose view. Any email you send to the past appears in the proper chronological order in your recipient’s inbox . . . How does it work? Gmail utilizes an e-flux capacitor to resolve issues of causality . . .”  Some students nodded appreciatively. He was so serious and impressed by Google’s engineering wizardry. I couldn’t let a 20-year old college student walk around in the wide world believing it to be real, but I felt like the Grinch when I explained it was an April Fool’s joke.

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Art Exhibit

My friend Peter Vanderwarker’s works are included in the Industrial Strength exhibit showing through April 13 at the Addison Gallery of American Art, Phillips Academy, Andover. (Peter shot the photo postcards in my office window.) The exhibit is reviewed in today’s Boston Globe (“No one documented the Big Dig more scrupulously or vividly than Peter Vanderwarker, and the Addison has nearly two dozen of those photographs on display.”) The exhibit is worth figuring out how to get to Andover.

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