my introduction at Michael Patrick MacDonald event, March 14, 2008

My name is Joyce Linehan and on behalf of the Dorchester Arts Collaborative and our presenting partner for this event, the Dorchester Historical Society, I am pleased to welcome you to this, our second event in our Corita Kent Lecture series. 

Before we get started, I need to thank a few people. There was a great committee involved in the planning of this, including many of my fellow board members from the Dorchester Arts Collaborative, Earl Taylor from the Dorchester Historical Society and Karen Fegley, who designed our printed program.  I’d also like to thank the Commonwealth Museum for providing us with this space.  We’re a resourceful bunch, but we do have to pay for some things, so we had to raise some money.  We’re very grateful to our sponsors – Mt Washington Bank and the Massachusetts Convention Center Authority. 

Our lecture series is named for Corita, the artist who created the rainbow gas tank you undoubtedly saw on your way in here, and in a way that I didn’t understand when we first started planning this event, there is a real connection between that tank and the conversation you’re going to hear tonight.  Some of us who live here have decided that we were going to reclaim the gas tank, and Corita, in all of their contested glory.  On the one hand, here’s this giant piece of art – reportedly the biggest copyrighted object in the world – by one of the most famous graphic artists in the U.S. at the time the tank was painted in 1971.  But the reality is that it’s a rainbow on a gas tank full of LNG, placed on a site that was once part of an oceanfront community, until Morrissey Boulevard was built – I think in the 40′s, separating the community from its beach. My mother, who grew up on King Street always thought of herself as living close to the ocean, while I, growing up just a few streets away, always thought of the other side of Morrissey Boulevard as another planet.  At any rate, we’re claiming the tank now, as well as the University, the JFK Library, this building and all of the other great resources on this side of the boulevard as being part of our neighborhood of Dorchester.

I’m one of those Irish-Americans who wanted nothing to do with St. Patrick’s Day growing up. You wouldn’t catch me dead in green (anything but black actually in those days) and I completely rejected what I saw as knuckleheaded nationalism. But as Michael so eloquently expresses in Easter Rising, one can’t help but embrace one’s Irishness once there is an understanding of the actual history. Once you have an understanding that insularity and community are two very different sides of the same coin, it’s easier to reconcile the two. As Michael and I have been talking about this event, we’ve also been hatching all kinds of plans for reclaiming St. Patrick’s Day, making it less about beer and shamrocks and more about our actual culture. And tonight, you’re going to see our first humble stab at that. Tonight, no matter what your background, you’ll be embracing your Irishness, the gas tank, Columbia Point, and this side of Morrissey Boulevard.

Michael Patrick MacDonald is a gifted writer, and the author of the huge bestseller “All Souls.” His most recent book “Easter Rising,” is a sequel to All Souls, and is just out in paperback, and available for sale here.  Michael grew up South Boston, though I believe his family actually lived in Columbia Point when he was born (a fact that has been used against him by detractors trying to claim that he’s not “from” Southie.)

Michael will be interviewed by Joe Keohane, an editor at Boston Magazine and a native of Quincy, an actual beachfront community.  A former hotel employee, bookseller, gas-pumper, musician, and office drone, Joe joined the staff of Boston Magazine last year after serving as editor in chief of the Weekly Dig for four years.  His writing has also appeared in The Boston Globe, The Boston Herald, The Boston Phoenix, The New York Times Book Review, Conde Nast Portfolio, and other publications.

We’ll start with a conversation between Joe and Michael, followed by audience Q & A and Michael will be available to sign books for a little while afterwards. 

We’re very pleased to welcome Michael Patrick MacDonald and Joe Keohane to the Commonwealth Museum.


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