Many years ago, some time in the 1980’s, my sister Trish and I were in Worcester and came across a tee-shirt with the Eiffel Tower on it, and the words “Worcester: Paris of the Eighties.” Naturally, after observing a moment of WTF-ness, we bought it for our friend and fellow Worcester girl, Michele.
We often wondered just what was up with that, but fast forward a couple of decades and I learned from my friend and fellow Worcester girl, Mary, who lived in Worcester at that time and was part of the literary community there, that this was actually a slogan used by the Heart of the Commonwealth. Mostly in reference to the city’s arts scene.
Those who have logged any time in Worcester may be a bit perplexed about any Worcester-Paris analogy, however artsy Worcester was at the time.
If Worcester were going to be any place in Europe – other than the obvious choices like Wroclaw or Birmingham – why not Rome which, like Worcester, is built on seven hills? As an aside, building a city on seven hills makes sense in sunny Italy. Less so in winter-mix New England. But nonetheless, Roma got seven hills, Worcester got seven hills.
(And as an other aside, this confession: I have no idea whether Wroclaw is ugly; I picked it solely on its ugly-ish name – for all I know, it’s a charm spot. Birmingham is an old industrial city. Enough said there.)
As for the famous tee-shirt, quite wonderfully – since I intend to get one or two of them – it’s back, available at ChipSylvania, which is in Providence, not Pennsylvania, by the way, and which is offering the shirt – black on red, or white on black - for the low, low price of $20. This is the excellent descriptor:
A classic weird shirt from “the heart of the commonwealth” Worcester MA. We will not explain this item. You either need it or you don’t know what it is.
Well, I’m afraid I both need it and don’t really know what it is.
I guess you had to be there in the eighties, which I most decidedly was not.
In any case, I will be placing my order, and will or won’t wear the shirt when I’m next in Worcester, when I will or won’t stop by the new – just opened in January - Paris of the Eighties Café.
It is, of course, just not enough that my hometown was the Paris of the Eighties.
Of late, it’s filling in as the location for a movie that takes place in New York in the 1970’s.
Or so I learned when, in my desire to put off working on a client white paper on hypervisors, I checked out what was happening in Worcester on its online newspaper-of-record.
Movie crews were busy yesterday [actually, last Thursday] disguising downtown Worcester as 1970s New York City. A Studio 54 sign - or at least a replica of the one that hung outside the famous nightclub - has been installed just off Main Street on a Mechanics Street building. Honey Dew Donuts in Harrington Corner now looks like an off-track betting joint. And across the street, the front of the WCCA-TV 13 building is starting to resemble a cinema, with white marquee signs put in place this morning. (Source: Worcester Telegram.)
Studio 54! OTB!
Worcester’s on the map! Or New York City’s on the map, and Worcester it playing it.
This is going to be a big-time movie, by the way.
No name as of yet, but this “1970s-era story about gambling officials who bribed New Jersey authorities to get a gaming license” stars Christian Bale, Jennifer Lawrence, Jeremy Renner, Robert DeNiro, Bradley Cooper and Amy Adams.
Talk about your A-list!
I actually love seeing movies that are filmed on the wrong location, if only so I can play the smarty-pants role that, I’m afraid, comes quite naturally to me.
All those reputedly Boston scenes that are shot in Toronto…
And a few years go, I watched the movie Conviction, which was supposed to take place in and around Worcester County. I kept looking at the scenes and saying, ‘that doesn’t look like Worcester’, ‘that doesn’t look like New England.’
Sure enough, it was filmed in Michigan, which only looks like New England if you’re not a New Englander.
Anyway, it will be interesting to see how Worcester comes off as New York City.
But my first reaction is: Oy!
If the Paris of the Eighties bon mot confounded me, I’m now having a heck of a time trying to decide whether Worcester is the New York of the Seventies or the Hollywood of the Teens.
Too hard for me! You’ll have to decide this one for yourself.
(Start spreading the news. I’m leaving today. I want to be a part of it, Worcester, Worcester.)