For Democrats, Stars and Bars
The staff has diversified since then, but Honey Fitz adorns the walls and Kennedy still holds confabs at the hotel, now run by Omni. Kennedy diehards (and you know more than a few of you delegates are) can trace JFK's life from his birthplace in Brookline (83 Beals St.) to his well-preserved dorm room at Harvard to the presidential library perched on picturesque Columbia Point in Dorchester.
"When you go to these conventions, the parties are always in a large ballroom of some hotel," observes Menino. "Those don't work. You don't get a flavor of the city."
So he and the Democratic National Committee are introducing a new twist to this year's convention: The opening-night parties will be held at neighborhood spots, such as the Curley birthplace in Jamaica Plain, the Strand Theatre in Dorchester and the L Street Bathhouse in South Boston, aka "Southie," which some in the New York state delegation mistakenly believed was a place for gay men's clandestine liaisons.
It was no accident, however, that Menino chose Doyle's for our rendezvous; many great moments in Boston history have happened in pubs. Daniel Webster declared the Green Dragon Tavern the headquarters of the American Revolution. Ronald Reagan surprised regulars at the Eire Pub in Dorchester the day after his 1983 State of the Union address. And when Brahmin Bill Weld needed to display the common touch in his gubernatorial bid, he bought a round at Foley's.
Judging from what I've seen at past political conventions, a few delegates may aim to make some of their own history in Boston's bars.
Faneuil Hall and Beyond
For the thousands coming to plot the overthrow of George W. Bush, the trip to the site of the Tea Party rebellion represents a pilgrimage to hallowed ground. Massachusetts has spawned four presidents and numerous wannabes, including Dukakis and fellow Greek Paul Tsongas.
Though teeming with tourists, Faneuil Hall (State Street, bounded by Commercial, Clinton, Congress and Chatham streets) is a worthy starting place for political junkies. JFK closed his 1960 campaign here and his younger brother rescued his 1994 campaign in the same hall.
The senator still recalls the zinger he delivered to a stunned Mitt Romney: "Turn out the lights, Mitt, this race is all over." Kennedy will return to the grand hall during the convention to host a health care forum.
History aside, Faneuil Hall remains a good spot to nosh or take in a street performance by the myriad musicians, jesters and jugglers who make up with humor what they lack in talent. Unlike the food courts that populate suburban malls, this downtown emporium offers unique dining, from clam chowder (chowdah, please) to Malaysian to pastries at the Kilvert & Forbes bakery Kerry co-founded.
While in the vicinity, be sure to pose on the bench with the bronze likeness of Mayor James Michael Curley (Union Park, North Street), look up at the hideous concrete slab of City Hall (Congress Street) and across the street to the more aesthetically appealing New England Holocaust Memorial (Carmen Park, Congress Street). Then slip down one of the last remaining cobblestone streets in the city, past the Union Oyster House (41 Union St.) to the Green Dragon (11 Marshall St.). Webster plotted the American Revolution in the tavern, but you'll want to devise a strategy for attacking the $14 lobster dinner special.
© 2004 The Washington Post Company