"zChris' Cynical Guide to Needham" Needham by zChris

Needham Travel Guide: 15 reviews and 19 photos

Needham is only outranked by Levittown, that legendary crop of soul-crushing homogeneity, in its resemblance to the "Stepford Wives," that paean to white American suburbia. Enter the town from the traffic-clogged recession showcase of failed dot-com firms known as Route 128 and you're greeted by cheery white picket fences and blaringly bleached signs announcing your triumphal arrival in Needham, founded 1711, and, therefore, currently marking 292 years of blissful conformity.

Needham was a welcome departure from my former home of East Amherst, New York, which in its worship of the almighty automobile resembled some twisted General Motors corporate social engineering project. Nevertheless I'd really surrendered the kitschy horrors of the massive American flag whipping the skies above the Perkins restaurant chain for a main street lined with hundreds of its little clones. The lemminglike quality of the town's citizenry reached an apogee when every parking metre in the town centre was festooned with flags in preparation for a jingo-rally celebrating the virtues of American military aggression. Children laughed and danced to the festivities and forever correlated occasions of nationalistic hubris with pleasure and delight.

Simultaneously I was coercively volunteering at a local elementary school as part of a graduation requirement. In between reprimanding the children of the town's four black citizens the children were forced to perform obsequious rituals pledging allegiance to the flag. The responsibility of inculcating "patriotic values" in the children fell upon me, though I soon discovered that this was wholly unnecessary, as the ritual of flag-worship was held by the six year olds to be far more sacred than the apparently taxing task of actually learning. Occasionally my duties would require interaction with the school's administration, which involved interfering in the deep conversations of the superfluous receptionists working in the front office concerning the petty crimes appearing in the week's police blotter. They would contemptuously refer me to another discourteous and overwhelmed individual.

Frustrated by the exercise in futility that was my "service to the community," I would drive away from the school cursing the town's inebriated sense of nonchalant complacency- its town green and clapboard houses postcard-perfect but submerging the reality of any social strains boiling beneath.

  • Intro Updated Jun 26, 2003
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“"I travel not to go anywhere, but to go." -Robert Louis Stevenson”

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