Posted by: scintillatingspeck | March 16, 2014


I walk up Beacon Hill in Boston and I see the ghosts of Puritans and proselytizers and patricians.

Beacon Hill, Boston

I walk through their/our histories, covered in blood and illusion.

There is a State House.  A house where the State lives?  The STATE.  The State that presumes to be real, presumes to have authority over me/you/us.  A fabrication of human ego, gilded and imposing and built on foundations of delusional control.  It’s got gates and fences and security cameras.  I guess they have some concerns about the solidity of those foundations.

Massachusetts State House, Boston

On the grounds of this State House, there is a statue of Mary Dyer, a Quaker who was hanged across the street on Boston Common in 1660.  A heretic, she was.  Does the State provide this statue as a cautionary tale?  Do they mean to say, poor Mary, we’re so sorry, we didn’t mean it?

Statue of Mary Dyer, Massachusetts State House, Boston

I walk around the city and it feels as solid to me as air.  I thread my way between buildings and roads and cars to the North End, seeking the water’s edge.  The wind tosses my hair around like a plaything and my ears are getting cold, so I wrap a scarf around my head.  I take some time to gaze on the water.

Jen, scarf, harborharbor view from the North End

I walk through Quincy Market.  Why did I subject myself to the hordes of people?  Their dispersed energies, their shopping bags, their chatter, their wearing green and traveling in packs from bar to bar (getting well-soused in honor of St. Patrick’s Day) bring up in me weariness and boredom.  I shake it off like a lap full of crumbs and head for the nearest coffee shop with free wifi.  It will do.  It will all do.

After some respite I walk over to Tremont Street, to my favorite monument ever.  This is a monument of no special note in any guidebook, I suspect.  It’s on the Boston Common, facing Tremont Street, and it was erected in memory of those who died in the Boston Massacre of 1770, a seminal event leading up to the American Revolution.  There is a story associated with it that I’m quite sure extremely few people know about, but that I discovered in my thesis research 15 years ago.  My thesis was about the life and work of Angela Tilton Heywood, a 19th century anarchist and free lover.

Boston Massacre monument, Boston Common

If memory serves me, this is the story:  in 1888, Angela was present at the unveiling of this monument.  She decided to write about it in the newsletter that she published along with her husband Ezra Heywood, “The Word.”  Primarily, she extolled the fact that to her, the monument looked just like a penis, and in her characteristic style, went on to unabashedly admire its virility.  Apparently this was horrifying to those who commissioned the monument, and they insisted that the sculptor, at his own expense, replace the rounded tip with something less phallic.  When the tip was changed to something much more triangular, Angela went on to publish an essay about how the triangle represented the feminine element sexually uniting with the masculine element below.

The figure of Liberty, bare-breasted, breaking her chains, with an eagle at her feet, pleases me, hearkens me back to a dream I had long ago that I was a golden eagle, soaring and free.  Liberty is strong, unashamed, rejecting Empire, rejecting the old expectations and controls and oppressions, clear-eyed, untameable.

Liberty, Boston Massacre monument, Boston Common



  1. Nice mini tour of Boston. Nice pictures and nice perspective in the commentary. Good to see that spring is on its way to Boston. Still covered in snow and ice and even colder here in New Brunswick, Canada.

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