So, no sooner does Amanda Palmer (Lexington High School alumn) put together a Neutral Milk Hotel inspired production at my old high school, and no sooner do we see my old pal Brian Dewan (Lexington High School alumn) performing in LA (and also doing something related to Neutral Milk Hotel lately, oddly enough) when suddenly, our friend Sally is linking to Eugene Merman (Lexington High School alumn) giving this year’s LHS commencement speech a day or two ago.

In fact, Eugene even went to Diamond Junior High, where Kurt Busiek and I first started hanging out, playing chess, role-playing games, quoting Monty Python, and talking about why I had no interest whatsoever in Kurt’s latest hobby: comic books… while Vint Cerf and Bob Kahn sat in a Howard Johnson’s 3 miles away, sketching out the TCP/IP protocol on napkins.

Most common question from our friends who didn’t grow up in Lexington, MA: “What did they put in the water?”

Discussion (15)¬

  1. Steve Weiner says:

    I thought LHS was a pretty good place considering that, at the time, I felt I had better things to do than attend high school. I’ve always thought it gave me my start in taking comics seriously. I was in Education without Walls(EWOW) during my senior year, and we were encouraged to come up with some independent project. My independent project was to design & teach a course to my classmates about comics as literature. It didn’t seem like a big deal at the time, but it turned out to be a very important aspect of my life.

  2. Ben Lund says:

    As I’ve speculated on this site before, it’s all about the confluence of Harvard, MIT, other colleges and universities in the immediate area, Lincoln Lab, Digital, the Route 128 version of Silicon Valley, and a town meeting that was willing to invest in the school system (even if taxes went up).

  3. Kurt Busiek says:

    Ben —

    That also explains the curious accent oasis — go one town in any direction, and New England accents of one sort or another are much stronger. But Lexington had such an influx of outsiders who came to work for universities, tech companies and such, and settled in Lexington because of the schools, that it severely lessened regional accent influence on those who grew up there.

    • Scott says:

      So much so, that years later I visited a comics store in Arlington — the town next door — and was chatting with the owner for about 20 minutes when she asked me “are you from England?”

      As Kurt can attest, the song “Wicked Little Criitta” by They Might be Giants is a perfect distillation of that accent. The Giants grew up in nearby Lincoln at almost exactly the same time.

      • Kurt Busiek says:

        When I spent a summer in Southern California, working for Ivy’s family, there was an art show where we ran into a guy who said he could figure out where anyone was from just from their accent. He did very well, until he listened to me for a while, and tentatively guessed, “Ah, from somewhere around here?”

        Lawrence Watt-Evans notes that the accent oasis can also be found in parts of Bedford, for the same reasons. If the person you’re talking to says they’re from Bedford, they’re part of the oasis. If they say they’re from Bedfid, they’re not.

    • Ben Lund says:

      True, and as always, an interesting observation, Kurt. When I was at Oxford University, the Brits thought that I was Canadian. 🙂

    • monstermike says:

      That’s the first time I’ve heard that phenomenon explained, and it sounds about right.

  4. Kurt Busiek says:

    Did they go to Lincoln-Sudbury High School?

    They might have had my aunt as a science teachah.

  5. Ray Radlein says:

    I love hearing about people doing things with Neutral Milk Hotel.

    I’d love it more if Neutral Milk Hotel were doing things with Neutral Milk hotel.

  6. ACGalaga says:

    What a wonderful speech!

    BTW; Happy Birthday (from the future)!! <– it’s already the 10th here.

  7. Steve Weiner says:

    Whoever thought a discussion of LHS alum would have clarified the “accentless” question of Lexingtonians? In all seriousness, it is something I’ve wondered about from time to time. Thanks.