The Worst of Boston

It's that time of year. Boston magazine has once again produced the fat, shiny compendium you now hold in your hands: the Best of Boston (BoB) issue. And, once again, the editors would like you to know how hard they've worked to ferret out the city's crème de la crème.

What they don't necessarily want you to know is that I've been working overtime, too, coming up with my own annual list. I even sent a memo to my bosses, which began: Dear Corporate Tightwads — I think it's time we start discussing my pay raise. . . . No, wait. Wrong memo. I told my editors I wanted to be a part of the BoB team. I wanted to celebrate all that is good and right in this city. And I wanted lots of free food.

They sent a note back suggesting that now might be a good time for me to take a couple of months off.

What can I tell you? I was shocked. I was hurt. And, as so often happens when I must face the loss of free food, the wheels inside my pointy little head started turning.

Why, I wondered, should I stoop to such naked promotional blather anyway? Hadn't I learned anything from my brief stint as a spokesmodel for Ralph Macchio's Do-It-Yourself Hair Plugs? So what I decided is this: Screw the Best of Boston. Wouldn't my readers, all things considered, be better off hearing about the Worst of Boston?

Of course you would.

Herewith, then, is my own WoB list, suitable for framing. My editors have asked me to make clear, up front, that all views reflected here are mine alone and do not reflect the opinions of the magazine. I would also like to note my personal debt to Jayson Blair, who helped me with some of the reporting. I would further like to note (for anyone considering a lawsuit) that I have no significant assets to speak of. Unless you count the pornography.

Worst Restaurant

Trattoria Sakura — This latest effort at East-meets-West fusion has been garnering raves from local foodies too intimidated to admit that the dishes are inedible. The concept (rustic Italian meets Japanese) is intriguing on paper. The victuals are less promising. (Veal sashimi? Seaweed gnocchi in a miso broth?) The tiny, crowded North End location and the décor — portraits of Emperor Hirohito and Mussolini — don't help matters. Nor does the so-called “gentlemen's option,” which allows visiting businessmen to drink “body shots” of sake off powdered geisha hostesses with names like Tedesco and Fillipini.

Worst Airport

Logan International — If you really want a peek into the dark heart of this aviation disaster, you need to look past the crappy location, the crappy layout, the perpetual reconstruction, the confusing signage, the surly staff, and the countless Dunkin' Donuts windows. If you really want to see why Logan is America's worst major airport, take a trip out to the Economy Lot. Provided you can find your way to this barren patch of ground (see crappy layout and confusing signage, above), you will be granted the privilege of paying 16 bucks a day for parking — a grand savings of $8 a day. To put this in perspective: It would be less expensive (and more convenient) to park illegally in East Boston and walk to your gate.

Worst Corporate Relocation

NECCO — With the departure of the New England Confectionery Company to new digs in Revere, the last vestige of the city's once-booming candy industry is gone. No longer will South Cambridge denizens be treated to the aroma of peppermint and cinnamon wafting over Massachusetts Avenue at dusk. Instead they'll be treated to the smell of . . . fresh software.

Worst Boondoggle

The Big Dig — Have you had enough of this abuse, Boston? Do you get how royally you're being screwed? Has it become clear to you that we could burn a pile of taxpayer money on City Hall Plaza and still not match the cost overruns on this mess? Good. Now let me help you with the long-term math: The Big Dig has doomed this city to second-class status. Fact is, every other major city in the world shares one characteristic: cheap and efficient public transportation. By choosing to build a whizbang set of underground highways, Boston has instead decided to become an overgrown, smoggy, atomized . . . suburb.

Worst Imitation of a University

Massachusetts Institute of Technology — Big things are happening over at Cambridge's other university. And I'm not talking about some silly scientific discovery. I'm talking about the new MIT hotel, the new MIT retail space, the new MIT parking garage. As is clear to anyone who lives within spitting distance of the place, MIT has moved from the business of higher education into the high-profit world of real estate. Plans for an MIT resort — including a virtual theme park (Geek World) — are under consideration.

Worst Sports Blunder (Tie)

The Vin Baker trade — The most vicious fans in America meet one of the most fragile psyches in professional sports. (On the bright side, at least the Celts had the good sense to cut loose that deadweight Chauncy Billups.)

Ugueth Urbina's departure — While Boston's bullpen blows lead after lead, Urbina is leading the American League in saves, while playing for the worst team in the AL West, the Texas Rangers. Nice trade, fellas.

The Latest Bruins firings — Pat Burns, Mike Keenan, Robby Ftorek. It's hard to keep up. GM Mike O'Connell — who canned Ftorek late in the season, after pledging to keep him on — has hired as coach Mike Sullivan, 35, a man with zero years of pro coaching experience. Who's next? Ugueth Urbina?

Worst Theatrical Production

Puppetry of the Vagina — A crass effort to cash in on the success of Puppetry of the Penis, this show attempts to shock viewers with such genital manipulations as the Slip Knot and the Dead Butterfly. To quote from a review in this magazine: “As much fun as a speculum.”

Worst Pickup Scene Eight-Second Dating — You have to hand it to the guys who came up with this idea: At least they're honest. “For most people, chemistry is, like, instantaneous,” says cofounder Vincent Chasteen, a Boston University undergrad. “So why make people sit through eight minutes of awkward conversation?”

Worst Busker

Daniel “Nasty” Sanchez — Sanchez is that rarest of species: a busker on the Blue Line. His avant-garde music isn't for everyone. Most of his “auditory pieces” consist of amplified found noises, such as a car door being slammed, or former Archbishop Bernard Law belching, paired with his own live performance on a theremin.

Worst New Beauty Treatment

Nasal Implants — Inspired by Nicole Kidman's prosthetic turn in The Hours, local plastic surgeons have begun to offer rhino-enhancements. “The idea isn't to reshape the nose, but to build on what's already there,” says Lorna Parks, the owner of Bique, an upscale clinic in Methuen that specializes in the procedure. “Particularly in the case of someone who's had Botox or collagen treatments, you need the nose to be proportional.”

Worst Political Move

Tom Finneran's Appearance on Extreme Makeover — Beacon Hill's favorite power broker surfaced on the new ABC hit show, where he got a revamp that included a $4,000 hair weave, corrective eye surgery, and bone grafts to firm up his jawline. “He told us he wanted to look like Mitt Romney,” one nameless ABC exec reported, “only hotter.”