— Hear that new one from the BSO?

— Shit, yeah, that Brahms? That one knocked me square on my ass. Even more so than the Shostakovich. Pardon me, the Grammy Award-winning Shostakovich.

(They toast.)

— We should repeat.

— We should but we won’t, because the Recording Academy hates Boston. Watch. Watch them give it to the frigging New York Phil, which is a fine orchestra if you like listening to a bunch of soulless prima donnas collect paychecks.

(They nod, drink.)

— Gotta respect Andris Nelsons.

— The kid can conduct his ass off, in the bravura tradition of Seiji Ozawa.

— Friend of mine down in Quincy just named his pit bull “Ozawa.”

— Remember ’02, when Ozawa did Beethoven’s Seventh?

— Course I do.

— Course you do. We all do, because it was an indelible performance. An indelible performance that the New York Times called “plodding.” Please. Please do me one favor, Mr. Big New York City Critic, please don’t talk to me like I don’t got two ears and a brain. Because I do, and also a heart, which Seiji touched with that masterful Seventh.

— They act like there’s no culture north of the Triborough. Like guys like us don’t know a sublimely realized Seventh when we hear one.

— Just don’t talk shit about Seiji, all right? You come up here and you try to talk shit about Seiji — I don’t care if you got a Pulitzer or a MacArthur or an award from the frigging National Book Critics Circle — I’ll lay you the fuck out.

— Figuratively speaking.

— Of course. This city once aspired to be the Athens of America. I’m not about to disrespect that majestic civic aspiration by acting like a goddamned fucking barbarian.

- - -

— Other day I went over to the Museum of Science.

— How was it?

— Well it was the fucking Museum of Science, so how the fuck do you think it was? It was superlative. It was a testament to our region’s proud tradition of rational inquiry.

(They toast.)

— Meanwhile, all you hear is, “Silicon Valley this, Silicon Valley that…”

— Because they hate Boston, because they’re jealous of Boston. And I’m sorry, but making an app to call a cab isn’t science. You know what is science? Life science is science.

(They nod, drink.)

— Gotta respect our biotechs.

— I swear to God, I get all these disgusting frigging fantasies about a bunch of these Silicon Valley guys coming up here and talking shit about our biotechs. Being like, “Oh yeah, Boston’s got a nice little biotech scene.” And I’m like, “Little?” And then I very figuratively lay them all out. I very figuratively beat them back to Cali using the gold Nobel medal awarded to Dr. H. Robert Horvitz.

— Friend of mine out in Walpole just got a Horvitz tattoo.

— Sick.

- - -

— So I’m in the MFA last weekend, where I volunteer as a docent.

— A valuable service to an invaluable institution.

(They toast.)

— I’m in Gallery 242, and this kid comes over, says, “Are these are the only Rembrandts?”

— And this kid is from where?

— From a state that wants so hard to be part of New England but is actually just part of New York, and it knows it, and so it’s got all this twisted anti-Boston resentment.

— Friend of mine up in Lowell deals cards down in Connecticut. Says it’s awful.

— What it is is anti-Boston.

(They nod, drink.)

— Kid asks for more Rembrandts. That’s some true Connecticut bullshit.

— You want to see a hundred Rembrandts? Here. Here’s a bus ticket. Enjoy Manhattan. P.S., it sucks. You want to see five Rembrandts, and really see them? Really engage with each canvas? Come to Boston.

— Because there’s far, far less to see and do here, and so it’s easier to concentrate.

— Exactly.

- - -

— Know where I haven’t been in a wicked long time? Plimoth Plantation.

— I’m there two, three times a month. It’s a jewel.

(They toast.)

— You wonder why it’s not constantly crammed with people coming in from all over to experience what life was like in the seventeenth century in a fledgling agricultural settlement on the outskirts of what would one day become Boston.

(They nod, drink.)

— Could be the thing about people hating Boston.

— So it’s guys in costumes speaking in an archaic vernacular and churning butter under a hot sun or whatever. Not flashy enough for you? Here. Here’s a bus ticket. Go numb your brain in Times Square.

— The quiet of the place, its frank modesty, that’s part of what makes it so moving. That, and its brave refusal to ignore the darker aspects of our history.

(They nod, drink.)

— Ever feel like some people, like non-Bostonians most especially, might be sleepwalking through something major? Like, not the shit we see, but the shit behind the shit?

— Like America’s silent epidemic of depression? Its festering addiction to distraction? Like how some people mistake conspicuous consumption for meaningful experience? And how some others mistake hatred for virtue? Like how so many have lost contact with the communities that should help to sustain them and that they should help to sustain?

— Yeah, dude. Basically that. I worry that one day soon we’re all going to find ourselves condemned to lives of isolation and sorrow, all trapped inside the same airless, boundless nightmare anti-community.

— Like Fairfield County, Connecticut?

— Exactly.

— If the whole world turns into one big Fairfield, that’ll make us two guys from Connecticut.

— Two guys from Connecticut, just begging to get laid out.