Forecast: September 2010

The month in preview.

| Boston Magazine |

CULTURE
NEXT-GENERATION PREP

It’s hard to believe it’s been 30 years since The Official Preppy Handbook turned "summer" into a verb. This month’s sequel, True Prep, catches one up on all that’s changed since the Reagan days. There’s been bad news (the NetJet account got closed) and good (heard of Splenda?), but the best is that prep is no longer exclusively the snobbish domain of wealthy New England WASPs. Now anyone can be a prep, and that, Muffy, is a good thing indeed. We can look forward to the time that this young man polishes his prep cred by getting a socially conscious job and marrying Malia Obama, our pick for Ms. Prep 2030. But first he simply must learn to make a good G&T — after he turns 21, of course. —Francis Storrs

9/8 Thanks to the patriotic rabble-rousing of an Arlington High senior, students at the school today recite the Pledge of Allegiance for the first time in decades.

9/8 Rosh Hashanah begins at sundown. L’shanah tovah!

9/11-9/12 The Life is Good Festival features superstars of the sippy-cup set, including Laurie Berkner, Dan Zanes, and, yes, the Sippy Cups. lifeisgood.com/festivals.

BOSTON MAGAZINE INVESTIGATES! The Education of Bill O’Reilly

ART
THE PEM’S POWER COUPLE

Once dismissed as a vanity project for crusty Brahmins, the Peabody Essex Museum has reinvented itself over two decades as a world-class institution. The latest evidence comes on 9/12, when the museum debuts "The Emperor’s Private Paradise," an exhibit of artifacts from China’s Forbidden City that have never before been publicly displayed — not even in China. The PEM’s rise has been quietly led by two people: curator Nancy Berliner — said to be the sole outsider the Chinese trust with their state treasures — and Fidelity chairman Ned Johnson. After Johnson bought a $7 million Chinese scroll a while back, Berliner built a show around it. And the PEM’s famous 18th-century Chinese house includes a $17 million bauble on loan from Johnson’s art foundation. Of course, publicity-shy Johnson doesn’t attach his name to any of this stuff, and Berliner never drops it. In certain circles, discretion is a very valuable thing. —F.S.

HIGHER ED
CLASS ACTION

When Camille A. Nelson takes up her post as Suffolk Law’s new dean this month, she’ll be facing competition from UMass’s fledgling program, not to mention a terrible job market for new lawyers. "The fact that we have 23,000 alums who are willing to help students distinguishes us [from UMass] right away," Nelson says. "We need to re-engage the alumni base and make those connections more concrete and durable." —Jennifer Schwartz

9/15 Biographer Burton Hersh reads from Edward Kennedy at the Harvard Coop at 7 p.m. There will be a book signing, but no Spanish test.

9/19 Community Rowing celebrates 25 years as a nonprofit with its Rumble on the River event — think Head of the Charles minus the Ralph Lauren. communityrowing.org.

TELEVISION
HOW TO BECOME A HOW-TO STAR

Ever wonder how those flannel-clad guys ended up on public television? Now’s your chance to find out, because Ask This Old House is casting for a roster of guest-star painters and electricians. Apply by 9/30, and you could appear on the new season (starting 10/7). You’ll need experience and a license to work in Massachusetts, of course, and a little charisma wouldn’t hurt. Producers plan to swing by applicants’ work sites for on-the-spot lessons. Consider it your screen test. —Shannon Fischer

SPORTS: The Comeback Kid

MOVIES
THE AFFLECK HYPOTHESIS
Given Ben Affleck’s talent for hooking up with career threateners — Gigli, Jersey Girl, J. Lo — studio execs could be forgiven for sweating the 9/17 release of The Town. They should relax. Our number crunchers have developed a scientific(ish) method for predicting success: the Affleck Hypothesis®, which states that the farther an Affleck movie is set from Boston Common, the lower the Rotten Tomatoes score will be. So how will The Town do? Take a look.

<–Far Away = Bummah———Hub Location = Wicked Awesome–>
Pearl Harbor
Honolulu
Miles from Common: 5,091
Score: 26

The Sum of All Fears
Baltimore
Miles from Common: 358
Score: 59

Bounce
Los Angeles
Miles from Common: 2,606
Score: 51

Changing Lanes
New York
Miles from Common: 183
Score: 78

Gone Baby Gone
Dorchester
Miles from Common: 4.5
Score: 94

The Town
Charlestown
Miles from Common: 1.5
Score: 96 (predicted)

Good Will Hunting
Cambridge
Miles from Common: 1
Score: 97

9/25 The Esplanade Association holds its major fundraising gala on the banks of the Charles. Will Beacon Hill residents open their wallets? esplanadeassociation.org.

9/26
Cyclists of all kinds invade Storrow for the sixth annual Hub on Wheels extravaganza. hubonwheels.org.

PERSON OF INTEREST: Ken Burns Goes into Extra Innings


REAL ESTATE
WHY HALF PRICE IS THE RIGHT PRICE

The historic Wyck Estate (pictured) in Manchester-by-the-Sea recently sold for $11.45 million, half the original listing price. Believe it or not, that’s actually good news as far as economic indicators go, says Lanse Robb, the LandVest broker who struck the deal. Last year the market stalled as wealthy buyers angered sellers with insultingly low offers. But savvy buyers recently started making fair bids, while sellers began accepting the cold fact that their homes are now worth 50 percent of their former values. With both sides grudgingly seeing eye to eye, the floodgates opened. Robb, for one, has already cleared more than $25 million worth of sales this year. "All this is part of a giant reset dial," he says. "Mind you, close to $12 million is still quite something." —F.S.


THEATER
EMERSON SETS THE STAGE

The Theater District is about to step into the big time. On 9/23 Emerson unveils its new cultural colossus, ArtsEmerson, with major premieres at the revived Paramount and Cutler theaters, followed by shows from director Peter Brook and Ireland’s Abbey Theatre, as well as The Merchant of Venice starring F. Murray Abraham. The all-star lineup is largely the work of ArtsEmerson executive director Rob Orchard. "Emerson really did the heavy lifting by renovating these theaters," he says. "Once I showed the artists Boston’s creative community, they didn’t need much convincing." —Matthew Reed Baker

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