Day Fifty

The Light Show at Christopher Columbus Park

Oh, the weekend I had. It all started out with a simple mission: explore Boston without the use of GPS.

So, I awoke early Saturday morning and picked a direction. From that point forward, I was on my own. All in all, I have to say that despite its winding roads and countless back alleys, Boston isn’t as difficult to navigate, as you’d think. It’s actually pretty fun.

I ended up making my way into South Boston—a name that confuses me, because it seems to be on the east side of the city. But who am I to judge? Making my way east (or south?), I decided to stop into Joe Moakley Park and take in the beautiful surroundings. Of course, that didn’t last long because it began to snow… or rain… or both. I never did figure out what to call it. Either way, it ruined the moment. So, I opened my umbrella and kept walking.

I ventured north and ended up passing by the gorgeous Boston Convention and Exhibition Center, before happening upon Harpoon Brewery. And given the deteriorating weather, how could I resist stopping in for a few beers and taking in the beautiful view of the coast?

So, I downed a few mid-afternoon Winter Warmers and continued on my way. I passed Bank of America Pavilion and the Boston Children’s Museum, before stopping at the New England Aquarium. I had planned on venturing inside, but a combination of improving weather and high ticket prices changed my mind. Instead, I strolled through the Christopher Columbus Waterfront Park and into the Paul Revere House. It’s a place I’ve visited before, but the amount of history contained within its walls just begs for repeat visits.

Boston's Chinatown

By this time, I had walked for several hours and decided to call it a day. I made the long journey back to the hostel, figuring the excitement were over. Alas, Boston surprised me yet again. As soon as I got into my room and threw off my coat, I witnessed a fistfight in the street below my window. I’m not exactly sure what was happening, but it seems like a young drifter took offense to a man walking his dog and pulled a knife on him. It was pretty crazy. Luckily, no one was hurt and the whole thing ended rather quickly—despite some shouting at one another from opposite ends of the block.

Having had my fill of excitement for one weekend, I decided to keep my Sunday rather low-key. I explored Boston’s Chinatown for a few hours, peeking into several shops along the way. Then, I headed to Boston Common to read up on some news, before taking in a movie at the Loews Theatre. I ended up seeing Her, which is an excellent movie and I highly recommend it. In certain ways, it actually reminded me a lot of this project.

Two weeks down. Two weeks to go. Then, it’s on to my home away from home, NYC.

-Steve-  

Day Forty Seven

The beautiful Orpheum Theatre

Wow, I’m already half way through my time here at BEAM. It’s kind of surreal to think about, because I’ve already learned so much in this short period of time. Honestly, I feel lucky to even be sharing space with the wonderful creatives here. Not only are they teaching me to think in new ways, but they’re also forcing me to step up my game because everyone here is so damn good. I’ll admit that it’s a bit nerve-racking to be with new people, in a new space, in a new city. Yet, my desire to improve and impress is overshadowing any fears I may normally have in such circumstances.

When I think of the most important thing I’ve learned so far, I’m reminded that as an interactive agency, BEAM allows me to work in realms that up until this point, I’ve only dabbled in. This rings especially true for developing end-to-end user experiences. Sure, I’ve developed a wide array of pieces and parts over the years, but the projects I’m apart of here are teaching me how to better inform, engage, and continue to improve, the user relationship with a product or service. From the moment someone is first introduced to a brand, a relationship—whether good or bad—is formed. And much like traditional relationships, the brand relationship can go through ebbs and flows over time.

That’s why BEAM sets out to improve and perfect every moment of engagement. They understand that every brand touch point influences one’s relationship with it, even if it’s not intended for them. For instance, someone may see a subway ad that’s intended for a different demographic, but it will still resonate with them on some level having just seen it. Personally, I relate this notion to the cartoon, Adventure Time, on Cartoon Network. It’s a program geared toward children, yet it’s humor and content easily resonate with folks my age, even though we aren’t the intended audience. Heck, I don’t even think we’re a secondary or tertiary audience. It just clicks.

So, as I continue my time here, I’m beginning to see the much bigger picture on how to forge and maintain such relationships. Granted, these are all things I already know from reading or past experience. But this is the first time I’ve actively played a role in their development. It’s extremely exciting and I can’t wait to see where we go from here.

-Steve- 

Day Forty Three

Proof that the weekend started out nice.

Last Thursday, I saw a bit of exciting news—the weekend was going to be bright, sunny and in the mid-50’s. Of course, I should know better than to ever trust the weather. Sure, it started out fine, but as you'll read things didn’t go exactly as planned.

Friday night, I dined at a small dive bar near the hostel called Delux. While the meal was absolutely amazing, the most memorable part of the evening was my meeting of the Smiths—a very lovely couple from the area. Our conversation begin with recommendations on what I should order off the menu, before the topic turned to The Great Agency Adventure. They were fascinated with the project and even bought me a beer to help celebrate. We compared travel notes, discussed the finer points of trains and hostels, and even shared our favorite ads. I really can’t thank them enough for the wonderful chat and the kind, encouraging words they shared.

Faneuil Hall Marketplace. 

The next morning, I awoke to the sounds of rain against my window. I shrugged it off and headed out the door to explore Boston. First, I headed north to check out some locations I remember from my last visit to the city—Faneuil Hall Marketplace and the legendary Boston Common. Then I ventured over to Newbury Street. Granted, I’m not a fan of the area, because it’s a little too rich for my taste. However, it’s home to the Johnny Cupcakes store and I wasn’t leaving Boston without stopping by. So, I purchased a few shirts and quickly made my way southwest. Passing by numerous historical landmarks, including the George Washington statue and Benjamin Franklin’s memorial, I began to wrap my head around the rich history of this city. It’s easy to forget just how deep this city’s lineage runs.

Continuing southwest, I passed by Fenway Park, where they were showing a hockey game on the big screen for a packed stadium of fans. It was also fun to see some of the scenery I remember from The Town. About 2 hours into my walk, I passed through Allston. Now, I’m not sure if it’s considered a suburb of Boston, but it certainly feels like one. Old stone houses line quiet streets, interrupted only by its bustling town centers. If I had to describe the area in one word, it would be quaint. It was so peaceful and you couldn’t see a speck of downtown Boston, which really surprised me. 

No Sign of Any Green Monsters.

After stopping for pizza at Otto, the rain finally began to unload. It was at this moment I realized I never packed an umbrella. Go figure. So, I waited out the storm in a TJ Maxx, before continuing on my way up to Cambridge, which is northwest of downtown. Again, Cambridge is absolutely gorgeous. It’s certainly not what I expect when I think of a big city like Boston. So, I made my way through the Harvard (I made it mom!) campus and back into Boston proper, albeit soaking wet from the relentless storms. By the time I returned to the hostel, I had walked 5 miles in just under 8 hours. Needless to say, my dogs were barking. It did surprise me though, just how compact Boston truly is. Since New York City is my only “big city” reference point, I always assume every other city is on a similar scale. Yet, you could never circle around the five boroughs in that amount of time. So, it’s cool to see how much Boston packs within its borders, while still maintaining its rich history.

Sunday, I awoke with aching legs. So, I decided to cut back a bit. I passed some time searching through AirBnB listings, before eventually making my way to the Sam Adams Brewery. It was a great time and of course, the free beer hit the spot. After the tour, I strolled up Tremont Street passing by landmarks such as the Wilbur and Shubert Theatres, before catching Lone Survivor at a nearby Loews.

It was an eventual weekend all around and I think I’m starting to get a feel for this city. It reminds me of Cleveland in a lot of ways. Its suburbs are actually a part of its identity, while the downtown is the bustling metropolis you’d expect. I can’t wait to see what else this city has to offer.

-Steve-