City Journal: Unsolicited Advice

By Jack Gray | Boston Magazine |

Solution- minded Bostonians offer thoughts on how the new man in charge can make our lives better.


Deval Patrick has big plans for our state. But what about those little everyday annoyances? City Journal asked a few Bostonians what Patrick could do to improve their quality of life—even if it means stepping on the toes of the mayor, the Turnpike Authority, and the Boston Red Sox.

Michael Dukakis: Three-term governor of Massachusetts
Pave Route 9 through Brookline and Newton before
I break an axle on it. Like so much of the state’s highway system, it’s a disaster.

Esten Perez: Communications director at Harvard’s Institute of Politics
Can we get wider seats for the regular guy at Fenway? I’m trying to slim down, and those tiny 14th-century things aren’t doing much for my self-esteem.

Ben Mezrich: Author of Ugly Americans
Everyone says Boston looks like a European capital; let’s make the restaurants dog-friendly, like Paris, so we can sit and eat with our pets. And not just outdoors—I want to see dogs inside the Armani Café, wearing turtleneck sweaters and drinking out of crystal bowls.

Leslie Epstein: Director of BU’s graduate creative writing program
Ban those chirping sounds that come from cars when you open the doors by remote control. Or cut down on the most vulgar and insidious noisemakers of all: wind chimes.

Nancy O’Hagan: President of the Caring for Carcinoid Foundation
If you take longer than one minute in handing over money at a tollbooth, then the price should be doubled.

Mameve Medwed: Author of How Elizabeth Barrett Browning Saved My Life
We should import the Irish policy that income from writing is not taxable.

Laurence Tribe: Professor of constitutional law at Harvard Law School
How about a new law providing that anyone who uses, or hires somebody to use, a leaf blower should be required to listen to a special “leaf blower concerto” pumped into the offender’s house or apartment for at least 10 times as many hours as he or she was found to have inflicted actual leaf blower noise on the neighbors?

Nathaniel Fick: Former Marine captain and author of One Bullet Away
Fix the goddamn Big Dig.