Home Is Where You Wear Your Hat

by Ray Levasseur June 1997-2001

For a more detailed look at Arlington
check out their Homepage

Sandwiched between the People's Republics of Belmont, Cambridge, Lexington and the less elegant Boston burbs of Somerville and Medford (Meffuh to the locals) is the People's Republic of Arlington. I moved here a bit over 9 years ago and of all the places I've worn my hat, Arlington is by far my favorite town.

Arlington is close enough to greater (or not so greater) Boston to be accessible by bicycle, bus, tube train or a short car ride. For the more adventurous, one can even walk into Boston, which I have done on many occasions.....about 7 miles along Mass. Ave.

But Arlington is far enough away from Boston to feel like one of those "Leave it to Biff and Buffy" suburban towns. In the event of a first strike direct nuclear hit on Boston, at least Arlington would not get totally vaporized. We'd probably get to die slow painful deaths from radiation sickness and disease.....that's one of the big pluses of living here.

The main drag through town is Massachusetts Avenue or Mass. Ave. for short. Starts out around Lexington way, cuts through most of Arlington, through Cambridge and into the heart of darkest Boston.

Now let me tell you about Mass. Ave. If I were a software engineer I would write an award winning video game called "Mass Ave. Massacre." Along Massachusetts Avenue anarchy reigns supreme. The pedestrian is king here, and if he/she decides to run out in front of a runaway gas tanker and gets hit.... well it's the trucker's problem not the person on foot. So one must be very careful and on the lookout for pedestrians jumping out of trees of falling from windows into the street. The drivers are another story. Then there are the multitudes of Trendia Titanic SUV's, monster trucks and minivans, all careening about, "out of my way, my vehicle weights 5 tons and is bigger than yours."

Massachusetts is notorious for it's rather aggressive (to the point of being psycho killer) motorists. Driving along Mass Ave. is a bit like playing one of those arcade games where you score points for wiping out the enemy. In this case, it's any other motorists who are fair game, pedestrians, people driving Japanese econo-boxes, and bicyclists.

I won't linger any longer on Massachusetts driving habits; this is after all an overview of where I'm currently paying rent. The town was once called Menotomy. This sounds like some town out of an H.P. Lovecraft or Stephen King horror tale. There are a couple of parks here. One is called Menotomy Rocks Park, which has a rather spooky feel to it toward sundown. There is another very nice park on "Spy Pond." Yep, there is a body of water right in the center of town called Spy Pond. You would never know there was a lake a few blocks behind town square. It's a great place to bicycle, jog, picnic, feed the ducks or just veg out. The "Minuteman Bike Path" cuts through the park on Spy Pond. I wonder if the CIA has an underground base at Spy Pond; maybe a UFO landing port.

If you enjoy cycling, roller blading or walking the bike path offers a 17 mile stretch of nicely paved 2 lane pedestrian highway beginning in Cambridge and ending in Bedford. Although cars are "verboten" from the path, it gets as crazy as Mass Ave. on warm weekends, with butt to crotch roller blade, pedestrian and bicycle traffic.

Arlington is a town of single and two family houses, and a lot of condos and apartment complexes thrown in. Although multi-family dwellings are numerous the housing market is tight. I had realtors for my first two landlords, who claimed that people tend to stay put, so there is not a large housing turn around. Prices tend to be higher than for other Boston suburbs. You can count on paying way way over $1000 a month and up for a decent 2 bedroom apartment here.

This is not a land of shopping malls, so shopping, if any is not diverse. There are a number of excellent Asian dining establishments in town , along with other mixed ethnic eateries.

Some Boston burbs have concentrations of certain ethnic groups, but Arlington prides itself on being a diverse town, which it is. All in all, it is one of the more pleasant suburbs of Boston to live in.

Return to Shadowlands