Russ Lopez was a graduate student at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government when he attended a Saturday night party in the South End; the native Californian fell for the neighborhood, never mind the abandoned tenements and burned out row houses of those grimmer South End days that he had observed from the window of the cab taking him there. Now an adjunct assistant professor in Environmental Public Health at Boston University, Lopez will talk about his new book, Boston's South End: The Clash of Ideas in a Historic Neighborhood, at the South End library on Tuesday, December 1 at 6:30 PM.
Lopez joins what has become a cottage industry of historians, history buffs and mere longtime residents who have written about the South End's art, culture, gentrification and urban renewal battles. A number of them have come to speak about their favorite subject at the South End library, including South End News's former Police Blotter scribe, John Sacco (famous for his recurrent phrase, The Scoundrel Was Arrested on the Spot); Lynne Potts (A Block in Time: a History of the South End from a Window on Holyoke Street); Hope J. Shannon (Legendary Locals of Boston's South End); Jean Gibran (Love Made Visible --a biography of her marriage to South End sculptor Kahlil Gibran); Alison Barnet (South End Character: Speaking Out on Neighborhood Change and the fictionalized South End thriller Sitting Ducks); and Richard Vacca's outstanding history of the local music scene (The Boston Jazz Chronicles: Faces, Places and Nightlife 1937-1962).
Lopez, who teaches at Northeastern and is a member of the South End library's History Collection Committee, says in his introduction that Boston's South End is not a book of colorful anecdotes, but rather one based on "public records, newspaper articles, older books, published reports and the personal papers of past and current residents." His account is likely to stand out for another reason: It can stake a claim to what must be the longest arc of any South End chronicle that has been produced up till now: The first sentence of Chapter One reads, "The South End's story begins at the end of the Ice Age as the glaciers that created its flat features began to melt."
The South End library is fully handicapped accessible. The event is free. Refreshments are served. Copies of Boston's South End will be available for borrowing, sale and signing by the author at the reading. Seating is limited.
Russ Lopez's talk will complete the speaker series for 2015. More to come in 2016. Stay tuned.