While we wait for the world to return to 21st-century speed, a throwback trend perfect for the social-distancing era has roared back to life: the 1950s-style drive-in movie theater. And what better place than the wide-open grounds of the now-canceled Marshfield Fair—reimagined this summer as an al fresco theater (pictured above) complete with a big screen and concessions—to sprawl out on a lawn chair with a bag of popcorn? Past showings have ranged from the current (Trolls World Tour) to the old-school, including the aptly chosen Back to the Future. 140 Main St., Marshfield, MA 02050, marshfielddrivein.com.
With our beloved ballpark’s 37,000-plus seats empty during prime baseball season this spring, what did Boston’s other hometown team, the Dropkick Murphys, do? They descended on the diamond to play a show, Streaming Outta Fenway, to raise money and spirits. The rocking two-hour set, which featured remote appearances from Bruce Springsteen and Fenway organist Josh Kantor, attracted more than 9 million viewers worldwide—and collected more than $700,000 for organizations such as Boston Resiliency Fund, Feeding America, and Habitat for Humanity in the process. dropkickmurphys.com.
Miss seeing your favorite writers in living color? The good news is the beloved author talks at this bibliophile’s paradise are still happening as many as five times a week online, now with an added perk—celebrity moderators. Recent pairings include longtime Globe book critic Gail Caldwell discussing her deeply personal memoir with Gloria Steinem, and former Surgeon General Vivek Murthy chatting about his latest book on health with former First Daughter Barbara Bush. 1256 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02138, harvard.com/index.php?.
All of our local museums have responded to 2020’s challenges with aplomb, working hard to launch online programs that keep the public connected. But the MFA has gone above and beyond with offerings as labyrinthine as its physical complex on Huntington Ave. In addition to a deep dive into the landmark Basquiat exhibit, the museum also uploaded artist interviews and art classes for kids on its website and YouTube channel—to say nothing of its immaculately produced collection tours on Google Arts & Culture. 465 Huntington Ave., Boston, MA 02115, mfa.org.
Okay, so the Southwest Corridor (pictured, top) isn’t exactly a secret. But considering that the rectilinear park stretching from the Back Bay to Forest Hills is basically an open-air urban butterfly garden, it’s the closest thing to magic you’ll find within walking distance of your T stop. Come summertime, the corridor’s community plots burst into bloom with sunflowers, lilies, hollyhocks, black-eyed Susans, zinnias, and more, attracting Bostonians and butterflies alike. Boston, MA 02130, mass.gov/locations/southwest-corridor-park.
A world-renowned jazz drummer, Berklee professor, and Grammy-winning bandleader, Medford’s Terri Lyne Carrington (pictured, bottom) excels at anything she touches. Her latest triumph is this two-CD set spanning almost two hours of music. Featuring her band Social Science and aching vocals by singer Debo Ray, the first half is a musical stew of jazz, R & B, hip-hop, and funk, with a poetic rumination on police brutality by Malcolm Jamal-Warner on “Bells (Ring Loudly)” that took on even greater meaning after the killing of George Floyd. The second half, an instrumental jazz suite called “Dreams and Desperate Measures,” is a luminous river of improvised music. Put together, it’s one of the most astonishing albums ever released by a Boston musician. terrilynecarrington.com.
When cinemas were forced to shutter indefinitely this spring, the Brattle pivoted to a digital format faster than moviegoers could yell “Action!”, offering exclusive tickets to a variety of flicks, from regional premieres of documentaries to foreign films. The Harvard Square theater has also created a repertory series for kids and a weekly podcast in which staffers discuss films on the Brattle’s schedule. All you have to do is dim the lights and log on. 40 Brattle St., Cambridge, MA 02138, brattlefilm.org.
Did the GOAT jump the fence out of the Patriots’ pasture, or did Farmer Bill kick him out the gate? We probably won’t know until the best quarterback ever and the best NFL coach ever are long retired and finally start giving candid interviews. Either way, this much is undeniable: Our former Number 12 now looks hideously off-putting in the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ red, orange, and pewter jersey, but we’re starting to get over our old flame thanks to the savvy signing of 31-year-old QB Cam Newton. While we wish nothing but goodwill and success to the football legend for the decades of glory he gave us, and we all knew the six-ring Super Bowl era had to end some day, it’s still too bad it had to be like this.
Given that his typical canvas is at least a couple of stories tall, it’s hard to miss Rob “ProBlak” Gibbs’s powerful work. The Lower Roxbury native—whose relationship with street art stretches back to his days tagging buildings as a kid—is the force behind the city’s Breathe Life murals, galaxy-inspired celebrations of Black youthhood. Now, as an MFA artist in residence, Gibbs is using his expertise to co-helm a project highlighting the influence of street art on contemporary culture. “My murals are mirrors,” Gibbs says. If that’s the case, we like what we see. problak.com.
“A page, turning, is a wing lifted with no twin, and therefore no flight. And yet we are moved,” writes Ocean Vuong in his earthquake of a novel, 2019’s On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous. Its release marked a fitting end to a year that saw the Northampton resident, an assistant professor at UMass Amherst as well as a lauded poet, receive a MacArthur “genius” grant. And that’s just scratching the surface of the 31-year-old’s many accomplishments—already a master of his craft, we know Vuong will continue to move us, time and time again. oceanvuong.com.
It was meant to revive the slogan that got us through another difficult time, the marathon bombings. What it became was viral gold, and a goodhearted laugh when we all needed it most. Instead of running the Boston Marathon on Patriots Day as she’d planned, MGH nurse Lindsay Devers set out to spell “Boston Strong” on her phone’s GPS app by zigzagging through the Back Bay along her own 26.2-mile route. But in her sweaty haste, she left out the “n,” leading to one of the funniest typos in memory: “Boston Strog.” Though the moment spread far and wide on the Internet, in a rare bit of mercy, commenters gave her an out: Maybe the missing “n,” they offered, stood for “nurse.”
When musician and activist Toshi Reagon signed on to work out of Boston for the year, she and everyone else assumed that her masterpiece, a musical adaptation of Octavia Butler’s iconic sci-fi novel Parable of the Sower, would hit the stage in March to wild acclaim. That didn’t happen, of course, but lucky for us all, Reagon is still here, prepping for a rescheduled production this coming October and working on her related Parable Path Boston program, which aims to engage the community around the issues of climate change and social justice. parablepathboston.com.
Long a voice of reason amid the incessant din of radio commentators, All Things Considered host Arun Rath (2) stepped up to the plate and has consistently hit it out of the ballpark with his other show, In It Together, featuring his interesting, insightful conversations with scientists, doctors, and other experts helping us to understand the ever-shifting sands of the COVID-19 crisis. He puts things into plain language without pandering and remains apolitical, asking exactly the questions we need to understand to stay well informed. wgbh.org/news/people/arun-rath.
Who knew the Newton native (1) from The Office would overtake both Randy Rainbow and vintage Bob Ross as the most feel-good person on YouTube? Built upon the simple premise that there’s always something worth smiling about, John Krasinski’s SGN segments featured viewers’ videos, artwork, and other ephemera, along with celebrity-heavy Zoom calls that made the screenshots alone worth tuning in for. youtube.com/channel/UCOe_y6KKvS3PdIfb9q9pGug.
The girl next door with gravitas, Lisa Hughes has been a reassuring on-air presence since taking over the 5, 6, and 11 p.m. anchor duties at Channel 4 two decades ago. Perhaps her no-nonsense yet soothing delivery can be traced to her wholesome upbringing in Moscow, Idaho—whatever the reason, even the grimmest COVID numbers somehow seem less scary when Hughes is quoting them. boston.cbslocal.com/personality/lisa-hughes.
Long one of our favorite Boston standups, this mother of two and tireless advocate for inclusion of children with special needs is a unique combination of high-alert neurosis and deadpan, low-key delivery. Since March 25, she’s been hosting her “Artisanal Comedy” show live on Instagram every Wednesday at 9 p.m., and her hilarious observations about the pandemic have kept us in stitches, even while we assiduously try to avoid the emergency room. MA bethanyvandelft.com.
If we could dream up a 2020 all-star squad of heroes, champions, and advocates, it would look a lot like this: Community organizer Gladys Vega (1) of the Chelsea Collaborative, who has spent the past two decades fighting for social justice but swiveled her focus to feeding 11,000 residents each week as the coronavirus ravaged her city. Public health advocate and Harvard professor of epidemiology Marc Lipsitch (2) would also make the team, in no small part due to his consistent and clear message, whether speaking to us in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, or the Boston Globe: Never underestimate COVID-19. Our best city politician is Julia Mejia (3), the first immigrant and Latina on the Boston City Council, who fought back against racist harassment after taking office in early 2020. She has also worked to improve bilingual communications in Boston and even made a series of TikTok videos with her daughter to liven up the mood at City Hall during the early days of the pandemic. Ibram X. Kendi (4), meanwhile, is the man of the hour and our hope for humanity. A bestselling author, the 2019 Guggenheim Fellow recently became a history professor and the founding director of the Boston University Center for Antiracist Research, where he’ll lead many of the country’s brightest minds to solve problems of racial inequity. His books, including How to Be an Antiracist, are already required reading among those in the know around town. As for the best social justice advocate in Boston? That’s Monica Cannon-Grant (5), a Roxbury mother of six children who rallied tens of thousands of residents to Franklin Park to peacefully protest police brutality. She also runs a victim-assistance program that supports men, women, and children of color through her organization Violence in Boston. And though he’s best known for his moves on the court, Celtics star Jaylen Brown (6) is our clear choice for celebrity ambassador—he’s peacefully protested, regularly speaks about race in America, and was honored at the State House this year for his charity work with children. We’re proud to have him on our home team.
Take a stroll underneath the I-93 overpass between the South End and Southie, and you’ll discover the city’s most exhilarating art exhibit. Sprawled over 8 acres, the once-desolate zone now features 18 murals, nine of which were added last summer. Highlighting local artists such as Silvia López Chavez, national ones like Def Jam’s founding creative director Cey Adams, and international ones including Spain’s Muro, the concrete, metal, and asphalt burst with color and forward-thinking vision 90 Traveler St., Boston, MA 02118, undergroundinkblock.com.