By Dan Kennedy • The press, politics, technology, culture and other passions

“I need weed”

The Globe’s Bryan Marquard pens a deft sendoff to Mr. Butch, a homeless guy who died yesterday in a motorscooter crash. I remember Mr. Butch lurching around Kenmore Square in the mid-1990s, but I hadn’t thought about him for years. It turns out he’d moved his base of operations to Allston.

Here’s the best part of the obit:

[Toni] Fanning’s favorite encounter with Mr. Butch was on Easter a few years ago. When she left home to visit a friend who was in bad straits, she was depressed about her friend, the day — just everything.

“And I walked outside and there was Butch standing on the corner of Harvard and Comm. Ave. with a big sandwich board that said, ‘I need weed,’ ” Fanning said. “I started laughing so hard that it got me through that entire day.”

I looked up videos of Mr. Butch on YouTube and found three. Two of them struck me as pretty exploitative, but this one captures him at his best:
Mr. Butch is also the subject of a nice obit in the Allston-Brighton Tab by Richard Cherecwich, which is reprinted in the Herald.

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  1. Anonymous

    He could be very annoying. I remember one incident in particular in a restaurant in Kenmore. He was also mentally ill, filthy, and usually pretty wasted on something. Everyone Marquard quotes in the Globe piece seems to have thought that was cute. The guy needed help, not a bunch of enablers who thought they were cool because the King of Kenmore Square talked to them.And then there’s that comparison to Thoreau.

  2. Aaron Read

    I think Mr. Butch, and the way people reacted to him, was a perfect metaphor for Allston in general: a dirty, grungy place with a lot of transient people who can afford to live elsewhere but like Allston because they can say they’re “keeping it real”.I lived in Allston for several years, and volunteered at Allston-Brighton Free Radio more than I should admit. While I never quite met Mr. Butch, I certainly knew of him and saw him around town all the time. I confess that I secretly liked the image he presented, even if his life really was hard and unpleasant, while mine was pretty comfortable. He was the essence of “local flavor” that so many longtime residents of any neighborhood always champion.Butch was homeless for 30 years, yet he found a way to make it work, and his friends and family were not far away. I think if he really wanted to change, at some point he would’ve. But I don’t deny that a lot of his obits are putting a whitewash on a situation most of us would’ve found intolerable. I guess you could say that’s a metaphor for Allston as well.

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