September 16, 2011 § Leave a comment


“So Worcester, It Hurts…” City Survival Guide, part one: the Essentials

by Steve Siddle

So you’ve woken up in Worcester, Ma and you can’t get out. Don’t panic, don’t cry, and please don’t shoot up. There are ways of coping with life in this town and even ways in which to find fun, good food and new friends. Of course, it’s probably easier to find heroin on these streets than it is to find hope, so I implore you once more: Don’t shoot up.

If approached from certain, precise angles Worcester, Ma can become a wonderful place to call home, especially if Worcester is only your “home” temporarily. Most of you will be leaving within a few years and few of you will ever return.

You have the great luxury of not having to worry about local politics or tax codes or the sad state of our city’s Public Schools. Your job while you are here is simply to spend money, stay out of jail, and try not to make your neighbors lives more miserable than they already are. (We will be here long after you are gone, and we are not as afraid of going to jail, so shut up when you are walking down the street after midnight.)

Remember, above all else, that you are not alone. There are hundreds of men, women and dogs just as disillusioned with this city as you are and they have managed for many years to live full lives within city limits. Learn from those who came before.

Here is a quick list of places that are essential to living happily inWorcester,MA.

1. Union Station- The great secret of our city is its proximity to greater cities. Learn the MBTA Commuter Rail schedule. It takes about one hour and fifteen minutes to take the train from Worcester to South Station. Be careful though, not to miss the last train out of Boston back to Worcester. (Usually eleven pm) Until recently, Union Station was an abandoned graffiti covered death trap. (Ask an old local about the guy who was raped, stabbed and thrown off the roof of the building in the late 1980’s.) Now Union Station is the most beautiful, most useful building in the city.  However, the restaurant inside is ridiculous, over priced and  almost always empty. Walk on by.

2.The Greendale Mall. I always think of that great Chris Rock line “Every town has the same two malls; the one white people go to, and the one white people used to go to.” The best thing about Greendale is the giant DSW and the Gap Outlet. (The Shoppes at Blackstone Valley is for soccer moms.)

3.Highland Street. It ain’t what it used to be, and in this case that’s too bad.Highland Stis the one section of the city that was actually better in the Eighties. Still, it is the most condensed area of destination in the city. You can eat, drink, get coffee, grab an ice cream and walk to ElmPark. Also, stop in at the Futon Co and pick up an old issue of Blank Canvas Magazine and thumb through the great used book selection.

4. Vin Co. The only three bars you really need in Worcester are run by the same tight-knit, tattooed and tight-lipped group of friends I have been hanging out with since I was sixteen. Vincent’s is a kind of neighborhood bar only the neighborhood it serves is large and undefined. I know people who live inL.A.who still consider Vincent’s their neighborhood bar. It’s kind of like Moe’s meets Cheers. Ralph’s is bigger, louder, younger and hosts the most “out of town”-ers of any business in the city. Nick’s is dark and inviting like a hot chick with smoky eyeshadow. The quickest way I can explain the difference between the three bars is thus; Take a date to Nick’s, watch the game at Vincent’s, meet up with the crew at Ralph’s.

5. Price-Chopper. This Grocery store on the corner of Park and Highland may not be the best but it is the smallest (I despise the half acre superstores that have been popping up all over Worcester lately) and it is open 24 hours. Also the Chopper has self-checkout and the most human looking clerks working the aisles. I buy my meat and fish Tatnuck Meat market and most of my produce at Banana Joe’s but there are always things I need at the Grocery store and Price Chopper is the easiest to run in and out of.

I will think some more about the places and the people who make Worcester livable and I will ask my friends. Keep an eye out and I will send another kite when I can.

peace, Steve


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