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Who knows your name in Boston?

Pop culture has a seemingly mixed answer to this question. If we are to believe the up-and-coming group Augustana and their hit "Boston" it is a place "where no one knows my name."

On the other hand, the TV show 'Cheers' (inspired by the real life Bull & Finch Tavern in Boston across from the public Gardens) tells us that is place "you want to go" because it is where "everybody knows your name."

Who is to be believed? Some would argue that we should believe 'Cheers.' After all, this show has the tradition, it is beloved by many. It has a track record.

Boston: Cheers vs. Augustana
By the same token we could just as easily believe Augustana. They are after all, not an established name. They can afford the luxury of honesty since they don't have a reputation to protect.

There is a possible third option, maybe both are right. This is a plausible explanation because 'Cheers' first aired almost 25 years ago. Much has happened between the first airing of 'Cheers' and the release of Augustana's song Boston. In the TV show the Bar Cheers is owned by Sam (Ted Danson), a former pitcher for the Boston Red Sox, that's right, the Red Sox.

If we were to travel back in time and traverse the chasm between reality and fiction to enter the on screen world of 'Cheers' to tell Sam that in real life the Red Sox would come back from being down 3 games to none against the Yankees to go on to win the world series, surely even this fictional character would be certain that we were making things up.

Much has changed since the Red Sox won the World Series and broke the curse of the Bambino. In what I like to term the post-curse era the Red Sox are showing that Boston is a different place. It's a place where the Sox are not afraid to go out and spend some money (as shown by the signings of Daisuke Matsuzaka and other big names by the Sox.) Boston is also now a place where dominance by the Celtics is nothing more than a memory of the Larry Bird era 1980's NBA.

Perhaps in all that shifting and changing Boston has become a place "where no one knows my name." Well, not my name, since I was just in Boston last week and there was a handful of people hanging out in a basement in Harvard Yard who knew my name. So by "my name" I really mean "your name." Better get down to the Bull & Finch Tavern and make some friends!

by Cameron Hatch
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