Pop Culture Care Package: Missing Massachusetts

The Montague Bookmill (Courtesy)
The Montague Bookmill (Courtesy)

As the physical distancing enters week one million and one, our team is feeling pretty glum about missing out on some of our favorite Massachusetts pastimes. From checking out the latest exhibition at our local museums, to enjoying a beer at one of our many breweries, to going to the movies — we’re missing out on many of our favorite activities and we’re becoming more than a little restless. So to help ease our longing, we created a care package of the music, movies and beverages we’re turning to that are making us feel a bit closer to the spaces we aren’t able to inhabit right now. We also have a suggestion that has us rethinking the constructs of the Bay State's judicial system.

Playing Pretend Brewery

As the temperatures slowly climb to a bearable degree and the flowers bloom, I find myself longing for a New England IPA, preferably poured right from the tap, enjoyed on the patio of one of our many local breweries. I’m not sure when breweries will be able to open their doors and usher patrons inside, so I’ve decided to draw on the skills I haven’t used since I was about five (or 13 — I was a late bloomer) and play pretend. I’m going to order my NE IPAs from Night Shift Brewing and take advantage of their curbside pickup, I’ll look longingly at the barrels that dot the front of their Everett taproom and serve as tables, and then I’ll bring my beer home, pour one into a pint glass, and sit on my own back porch and look at the budding tree that shades our scrap of a backyard. Maybe if I close my eyes, and the sun hits my face just right, I’ll be able to transport myself to a warmer, less socially distant time. (There are many breweries that are offering this curbside pickup and delivery, so if you’re missing your brew of choice, I recommend exploring this option.)

-Dianna Bell, Producing Editor


'Legally Blonde'

Unlike most people discovering new films and tv shows while quarantined in the house, I have revisited some of my favorite movies during this time, and my favorite genre by a long stretch is romantic comedy. I romanticize absolutely everything, what can I say? “Legally Blonde” is an exceptional rom-com for many reasons, but the main one is Reese Witherspoon, who does a superb job of playing Elle Woods, a heartbroken, ultra-femme sorority girl who follows her ex to Harvard Law School only to discover herself in the process. Of course, she falls in love with the right guy along the way because, duh. This movie still holds up nearly two decades after its release. “Legally Blonde” was technically filmed in California, like a lot of movies are, but it’s set mostly in Boston and Cambridge at Harvard University, and that still counts in my opinion. I’m sure Elle would argue the same. [Available to rent on most video on demand services.]

-Christian Burno, Arts Reporting Fellow

'How to Fix a Drug Scandal'

I spent the greater part of last week making my way through “How to Fix a Drug Scandal” on Netflix. I remember seeing the cases on the news when everything happened but I didn’t realize how deeply rooted the scandal was. Watching this series really opened my eyes to the many holes in our legal system and served as an overt reminder of how easy it is for injustices to slip through the cracks. In a state that prides itself on being liberal, explicitly seeing how intertwined incarceration is with faulty testing methods reveals a lot about the (long-standing) failures in our system. [Want to learn more about this series? Read film critic Erin Trahan’s review.]

-Arielle Gray, Arts Engagement Producer

A Mini Mass. Tour With Proto-Punk Rocker Jonathan Richmond

I don't know about you, but my longing for movie theaters, museums and music venues is hitting stratospheric levels. I've always known these physical art spaces ground me, connect me, light a fire in me. Without them, I feel, well, extra isolated. Empty. Sad, too, for the scores of art creators who are out of work in Massachusetts. But last weekend I experienced a brief, emotional epiphany on a morning run. It cracked my heart open — the way good art does — in a much-needed moment. As one foot landed after the other, the Modern Lovers' 1976 song “Girlfriend” came on and I was instantly transported from a wooded, river trail to a gallery filled with paintings at the Museum of Fine Arts. I practically cried as Natick native Jonathan Richmond intoned, “If I were to walk to the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, well first I'd go to the room where they keep the Cezanne. But if I had by my side a girlfriend, then I could look through the paintings, I could look right through them, because I'd have found something that I understand, I understand a girlfriend.” It didn't matter to me that Richmond's something is a girlfriend, not necessarily a painting. What mattered to me that day in the woods was feeling deep in my heart the fact that I really miss looking at artworks in a museum.

As I stood there staring wistfully at the Charles River, the tune “Roadrunner” came on. It's been nominated multiple times to be the Massachusetts state song. I gladly climbed aboard again for that jangly, love letter of a road trip with Richmond and his Modern Lovers — to the Stop and Shop with the radio on, through Mattapan and Roslindale, along Route 128 to Needham and then back home. “I'm in love with Massachusetts,” Richmond belted out, and he reminded me that I am, too.

-Andrea Shea, Senior Arts Reporter

The Montague Bookmill

At a time where we’re all being encouraged to stay home, I miss Route 2. Also known as the Mohawk Trail, which takes you toward Western Massachusetts, this is one of my favorite road trips in the Commonwealth. You pass sugar shacks where you can eat pancakes with fresh maple syrup, adorable florist shops, and out of the way vintage and antique stores where you can sift through old records and eat a really good piece of pie. Route 2 is also the road that takes you to The Montague Bookmill, located on the bank of a river, it’s an independent bookstore with the motto “Books you don't need in a place you can't find.” It’s off the beaten path and I promise it’s completely worth the two-hour drive. In the fall, the foliage is breathtaking, in the summer savor the warmth, and in the spring enjoy the bloom. Find your favorite podcast and listen as you make your way across the Commonwealth. Then, give yourself a couple of hours, at least because it’s the kind of cozy where you just want to find a comfortable couch, a good book, and lose yourself in the stacks. In the meantime, I’m trying to read through some of the books in my collection so once I get back to the Bookmill I can buy new books, guilt-free. [While closed, the Bookmill is hosting a “Tiny Bookshelf Series” of livestreamed folk concerts. Tune in Saturday, May 2, at 8 p.m. and watch singer-songwriters Liv Greene and Annie Lynch perform.]

-Cristela Guerra, Arts & Culture Reporter


Headshot of Dianna Bell

Dianna Bell Arts & Culture Editor
Dianna Bell is an arts and culture editor for WBUR.


Headshot of Christian Burno

Christian Burno Contributor
Christian Burno is a former arts reporting fellow for WBUR’s arts and culture team.


Headshot of Arielle Gray

Arielle Gray Reporter
Arielle Gray is a reporter for WBUR.


Headshot of Andrea Shea

Andrea Shea Correspondent, Arts & Culture
Andrea Shea is a correspondent for WBUR's arts & culture reporter.


Headshot of Cristela Guerra

Cristela Guerra Reporter
Cristela Guerra is an arts and culture reporter for WBUR.



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