September 2008

Mass. Hysteria

By Michael J. Katin, MD

The end of summer is approaching, and that means it will be only a few weeks until the annual meeting of the American Society of Therapeutic Radiology and Oncology. Although the date of this event seems to skip around as much as Easter, Eid al-Fitr, or President's Day, it signals the beginning of autumn every bit as well as the sight of the first migrating duck or the first Christmas catalog. This year the meeting is in Boston, from which many of our members were generated, and this means a greater proportion than usual of the attendees will already be familiar with the area. The host committee seems to have done a good job in arranging for eight tours for attendees, allowing them to avoid the tedious sessions, and their guests. I was concerned that there will be a number of people who have already seen the Freedom Trail, Salem, and Cape Cod, and perhaps the following additional tours will be of more interest:

1."Boston . . . and Other Bands" (Eight hours)
Offered September 20-24. Love stinks, but this tour doesn't. Slack off an entire day of the ASTRO meeting by taking this tour of the history of American popular music. This is Boston, where innumerable bands were formed or at least launched. Experience the magic of the Berklee College of Music, founded by Lawrence Berk in 1945, which provided training and inspiration to artists from Bruce Hornsby to John Mayer to Aerosmith's Brad Whitford and Joey Kramer. The tour then takes us to the sites of seminal clubs such as Spit and the Rat. Close your eyes and imagine you're hearing Pere Ubu, the Remains, or the Fools for the first time. Stop for lunch on Tremont Street and witness where the Reel Blues Fest (featuring Joey Kramer) was held at the Roxy Theater two weeks ago (timing!). We won't see the Cars, but we can see cars in Ayer, home of KTR European Motorsports, founded by none other than J. Geils. Feel free to take pictures (freeze frame!). We next head to Danvers, birthplace of the late, great Brad Delp, who supplied vocals to most of Boston's Greatest Hits. You'll have more than a feeling as we drive through. Don't look back! The tour concludes at the 6,266 square foot home of Aerosmith's Joey Kramer, recently listed for sale. Make an offer! Relax on your way back to your hotels, listening to the best music Boston has to offer, with CDs available from the driver

2."King of Fenway" (Three hours, with possibility of extra innings)
September 21. The curse is gone, but so is the team, which is playing in Toronto today. Pay tribute to Red Sox Nation by taking a tour of the oldest major league ballpark still in use. Fenway Park opened in 1912 and has been contantly modernized to maximize fan comfort and safety. Imagine the excitement of being present for the achievements of such Red Sox superstars as Pumpsie Green, Teddy Baseball, Yaz, Pudge, El Tiante, Spaceman Lee, Big Papi, and MBM. Finish by chugging six beers and then running out into the traffic on Yawkey and Lansdowne. Why are we here on September 21? To celebrate the birthday of one of the all-time greatest Red Sox fans, Stephen King. Will he be here? Maybe not, since he's had some restrictions ever since he was nearly killed by a minivan in 1999. It was also on this date in 2000 that the driver of the minivan died under mysterious circumstances. Maybe not so mysterious, considering.

3."The Trail of the Boston Strangler" (Four hours)
September 23.. Try not to get choked up with emotion when you hear the story of 13 women murdered in the Boston area between 1962 and 1964. We will drive past 6 of the murder sites. Can you identify a pattern? The bus will then take us to Walpole State Prison, where the accused, Albert DeSalvo, was mysteriously stabbed to death in the infirmary in 1973. Was he guilty? Watch excerpts from two epics about his life, in which he was played by Tony Curtis in 1968 and by David Faustino (Bud Bundy from "Married . . . with Children") in 2008. You will then return to your hotels to enjoy the rest of your time in Boston, as long as you can overlook that the bus driver seems to know far too many details about the murders.

4."Discovering Matt Damon" (Four hours)
September 24. You'll feel as if you've been "bourne again" after this whirlwind survey of Matt Damon's early life. Travel to beautiful Cambridge, Massachusetts, where Mr. Damon, the Orson Welles of our era, was born on October 8, 1970. Move on to his boyhood home, Newton, before returning to Cambridge, where he attended the Cambridge Rindge and Latin School, from which there will be a short drive to Harvard University. We will visit there only briefly, to reflect the length of time Mr. Damon attended Harvard before dropping out to pursue more intellectually stimulating activities. While in Cambridge we'll stop for a book signing by his mother, Nancy Carlsson-Paige. The driver will then proceed to South Boston, where we can experience the accent acquired by Mr. Damon to use in "Good Will Hunting," which he co-wrote. Proceed to M.I.T., to the rooms filmed for that movie, and marvel at the intelligence of the janitors. The tour concludes at the Hotel Marlowe, which on October 8 will be the site of the Social Justice Works! Awards dinner, with the honorary chairman being Mr. Damon, who will be in Miami at that time. It is rumored, but not certain, that Joey Kramer, who with his associates recently participated in another community-oriented event, will be substituting.

5."Really Rosie . . . Reliving the 1980 Boston Marathon" (2:31:56)
September 20-24. On your marks...get set...go!!! Bring your running gear and MBTA tokens to recreate one of the most famous sporting accomplishments of all time. It has been 28 years since Rosie Ruiz was the first female finisher in the 1980 Boston Marathon. The bus will take us to Hopkinton, 26 miles, 385 yards, and two sets of subway stairs from the finish. Runners will be given a route map and will race to be the first to Boylston Street. Those who complete this grueling race will be rewarded by being totally rehydrated with a 4-ounce iced caramel macchiato

6."Sweets for the Streets" in the North End (brunch)
September 23-24. Don't be slow as molasses in February or you may miss getting on the tour of the site of the January 15, 1919, Molasses Flood. You will be transported north to Commercial Street, and back in time to witness the recreation of the greatest confectionary disaster of all time. On that day, a 50-foot-high molasses tank ruptured, sending over 2 million gallons of the deadly dark mixture flowing into adjacent buildings and streets. The death toll was 21, with people, horses, and dogs trapped like flies in amber. Was it because when they yelled, "Molasses!" nobody ran? Sticky tour guides will take you through the site of the molasses factory and the path of devastation of the molasses tsunami. Visitors will be allowed time on their own to harvest molasses bits for snacking and for souvenirs, being cautious to avoid pieces containing pebbles, insects, and human remains.

It is hoped this schedule will provide enough variety to make this trip to Boston a week to remember. Next year, ASTRO 2009: The Chicago Stockyard Experience!

(I would like to express appreciation to Kevin Kearney for enlightenment.)