In Vennochi's Sunday column, she rails against the Wang Center becoming the Citi Center.
This week, The Wang Center was rechristened the Citi Performing Arts Center, after Citigroup bought the naming rights for $34 million. There is still a Wang Theatre. But a corporation, not a human being, gets top billing at a performance center that now showcases a version of New York's Rockettes rather than Tchaikovsky's "Nutcracker Suite" at Christmas.Of course, the new "Citi Performing Arts Center" isn't an example of jobs being cut or businesses being closed - but it's an important symbol in a city suffering from an identity crisis. And that symbol is just one of many other Boston-based companies being gobbled up in a game of real-life Manopoly.
When Gillette was eaten up and the Bank of Boston, Bay Bank, etc. all eventually gobbled up by Bank of America, thousands of people lost jobs in Greater Boston. The businesses picked up and left - they don't give a damn what happens in Boston, so long as there isn't a direct and easily detectable consequence to the company.
Local banks merged and were then gobbled up by Bank of America, based in Charlotte, N.C. The John Hancock name survives mainly as a marketing tool after Manulife of Toronto bought John Hancock Financial Services. The Boston Globe is owned, for now, by the New York Times Co.
Why would they care? They don't live here. When there's only a few companies, all centered in lofty halls in some nice local of the country, they're not going to give a damn about what happens in Boston or Greater Boston cities. When companies leave small cities like Lynn and Lowell, those cities die a somewhat unrecoverable death - even if there are some glimmers of hope. Boston is sadly one of the lucky cities (just ask Detroit).
Not too long ago, when the Department of Transportation and other institutions were gutting cities left and right to make new highways and build newer buildings, a lot of people thought that newer was better. In some instances, they were right. However, as national treasures were being bulldozed, people learned there was a better way. While progress is not only great, but inevitable, the past is paramount in society. Heck, students typically spend as much time studying history in our nation's schools as they do math. There needs to be a mutual balance where the axe rarely falls and humanity still progresses.
Yet, the axe no longer comes in the form of a bulldozer demolishing neighborhoods and landmarks to build highways and buildings that will live in infamy. The axe now comes in the form of a name change - Jordan Marsh and Filene's to Macy's, Gillete to Procter and Gamble, the Bank of Boston to Fleet to the Bank of America. Yet, in some ways, that axe is just as deadly: hundreds of thousands of people lose jobs and no one gets better services. Large, city-based companies are gone and philanthropy dries up. Cities die. Just as much history and legacy is lost. And no one but a few stockholders win.
Joan Vennochi asks, at the end of her Op-Ed, if anything is sacred. Here's the answer: sacred is whatever the hell we say it is. If Americans are content to let things go the way they are, nothing's sacred. However, we can and should make changes - so everyone from everywhere gets to enjoy in the fruits of our burgeoning economy, not just the wealthy CEOs, stockholders and execs - who are now hoarding the efforts of the entire American people .
I'd be remiss to