So who the hell is this guy?
Walking the Lethe was first conceived while I lived in Allston, which is the student ghetto of Boston. Most days I would walk down Harvard Ave. for some reason or another and I would often see this man. Sometimes he’d be hanging out with a little subwoofer and a guitar, sometimes with a plastic recorder. Other times he just wandered around the shops. His name was Mr. Butch and it said so on the sleeves of his leather jacket in big letters, made from red electrical tape.
He was the sort of man who creates stories. Everyone who lived in Allston can tell you a story about Mr. Butch, and none of them cast him in a bad light. He lived his live exactly how he wanted to and did not care what society thought about him. Allston, populated by college students and dreamers, loved the man.
Mr. Butch passed away in a motor scooter accident in 2007. The people of Allston had a party in his name, because everyone in Allston knew him. When I started writing Walking the Lethe in late 2008 the memorials in the shop windows and at the site of the accident were still there and indeed were still there when I returned to Boston this Christmas. Gone, but remembered and celebrated.
So this is my tribute to a neighborhood icon. A man I, perhaps foolishly, only said a few small words to. If he found himself in a thereafter, I like to imagine he’d still be in the places he called home, helping folks find their way.
Mr. Butch’s memorial site is here.