Transcript: Halloween Special: Spirits of Greater Boston

AMANDA McLOUGHLIN
Welcome to a very special Halloween episode of Spirits Podcast.

JULIA SCHIFINI
Uh, we wanted to give you some spooky from one of America’s up-and-coming communities. Uhh, the City of Red Line. Uh, we reached out to Third Sight Media and talked to them about some of the strange and unusual happenings of Red Line?

AMANDA McLOUGHLIN
But honestly? It’s what happened after the episode that’s particularly spooky. Since our recording with Third Sight’s media-rep Michael Tate, we were having trouble getting in touch with him. We reached out for some follow-up questions, figure out his twitter-links, stuff like that, but we didn’t get a reply. We reached out to Third Sight also and found out that not only has the company shuttered, but Michael is apparently…missing?

JULIA SCHIFINI
Isn’t that super freaky?

AMANDA McLOUGHLIN
I was kinda torn over whether or not we should release this episode, actually.
JULIA SCHIFINI
Well, you know what, we were giving…uhh…we talked about it and we’re going…we’re going to give you our listeners the full interview that we had with Michael, and unedited for content. If anything has heard anything from Michael, you should contact us or the Red Line police. Uhh, we’re not ones that usually entertain conspiracy theories and stuff, uh, but when the last person to speak to the supposed Mayor of Red Line before he disappeared now also disappeared himself? We’re gonna raise some eyebrows about that.

AMANDA McLOUGHLIN
Yeah, two data points is two data points. It’s not just one person with an odd story in a crowd. So, anyway, we hope that you’re safe Michael.

JULIA SCHIFINI
Yeah. But, umm, first off Amanda, let’s talk about who our sponsor is for this episode.

AMANDA McLOUGHLIN
Yes! So this episode is brought to you by Cambridge Central Square Community College Commuter Campus. The CCSCCCC. The CCSCCCC is now proudly serving the mobile community of Red Line. From Alewife, to Braintree and everywhere in between.

JULIA SCHIFINI
Are you interested in going back to school? Looking to get your degree in ethno-centric historical perspectives?

AMANDA McLOUGHLIN
Fro-yo business management?

JULIA SCHIFINI
Existential baseball quandary resolution?

AMANDA McLOUGHLIN
Or, Philosophy? CCSCCCC is the school for you.

JULIA SCHIFINI
So, I think, Amanda, we’re ready to get to the creepy, cool myths that we talked about with Michael. Hopefully he’s doing okay.

AMANDA McLOUGHLIN
Yeah, we — we wish you all the best. Remember y’all you can find us at Spirits Podcast all over the internet. And in the meantime, enjoy this Halloween Special episode of Spirits Podcast.

[Spirits Podcast theme plays]

JULIA SCHIFINI
So Amanda, you know I spent many of my formative years in Boston.

AMANDA McLOUGHLIN
You did. So did I. Getting really drunk.

JULIA SCHIFINI
There was a lot of drinking going on there.

AMANDA McLOUGHLIN
Yeah. Our college years.

JULIA SCHIFINI
Yeah, umm, so I went to Northeastern University. Go Huskies!

AMANDA McLOUGHLIN
Whoo!

JULIA SCHIFINI
Umm. And…I unfortunately left Boston before the Red Line Referendum happened? Because…that’s the definition of creepy and cool.

AMANDA McLOUGHLIN
I know, and like the coolest infrastructural thing to happen.

 

JULIA SCHIFINI
Yes. (laughs) I know.

AMANDA McLOUGHLIN
And you know I’m there for it–

JULIA SCHIFINI
(laughing) I know how much you love infrastructure.

AMANDA McLOUGHLIN
We do.

JULIA SCHIFINI
Umm. But I thought that because, you know, umm…just the creation of a new city creates urban legends? Just as we are humans, that’s how it works?

AMANDA McLOUGHLIN
Yeah.

JULIA SCHIFINI
Umm. So, I thought we would do some urban legends of the Red Line. Uhh, and I thought there was no better way of picking a — picking the brain of someone who knows the Red Line by — then by reaching out to uhh, Third Sight Media. Which I almost did a co-op at actually!

AMANDA McLOUGHLIN
Yeah! Oh really? As part of your degree?

JULIA SCHIFINI
Yeah. Uhh. Instead of — I was gonna go into, you know, some journalism stuff? But I ended up doing public history.

AMANDA McLOUGHLIN
Right.

JULIA SCHIFINI
Uhh – and I ended up working at the New England Historical Geological Society instead.

AMANDA McLOUGHLIN
You did. You did lots of gluing old books together and being like, ‘Amanda, I’m touching Abigail Adams’ hair!’

[Laughter]

JULIA SCHIFINI
There was a lot of touching Abigail Adams’ hair, correct.

AMANDA McLOUGHLIN
Yeah.


JULIA SCHIFINI
Umm. But? Uh, I reached out to uhh Third Sight Media? And uhh, luckily we have uhh Michael Tate on the line who’s gonna talk to us about some urban legends. Hi, Michael!

MICHAEL TATE
Hi! Hi, how are you? Um, this is Michael. Uh, Michael Tate.

JULIA SCHIFINI
Hi.

MICHAEL TATE
Hi.

JULIA SCHIFINI
So uhh Michael. Do you wanna get us started on some spooky uhh Red Line urban legends?

MICHAEL TATE
Yeah, no, absolutely. Umm. I uhh — (laughs). Wow, we’re going right into it. Umm. Are we — are we recording yet?

JULIA SCHIFINI
Yes, we are.

MICHAEL TATE
Oh, uhh —

AMANDA McLOUGHLIN
Don’t worry.

JULIA SCHIFINI
You got this.

MICHAEL TATE
Okay, umm. Alright. I have uhh — I have some notes here I shoulda probably uhh — not stapled them together. Umm. Uhh.

AMANDA McLOUGHLIN
Aww. You made notes. Thank you!

MICHAEL TATE
Yeah, I typed them up and then I had to uhh — I went to the library and them printed out. And umm. That’s actually not too bad of a deal, really. I — I can’t have a — a a printer? At my place, it’s kinda like umm — uhh, just a hammock? Really?

JULIA SCHIFINI
(laughs) Okay.

AMANDA McLOUGHLIN
Really?

MICHAEL TATE
Yeah, it’s umm —

AMANDA McLOUGHLIN
Minimalist.

MICHAEL TATE
Yeah, it’s at Porter Square and ummm — you know, it’s uhh — I mean, this isn’t an urban legend but it’s just a little bit of understanding to to what the Red Line is like. I don’t know if you guys have been there. Umm. But. Umm.

AMANDA McLOUGHLIN
Not yet, no.

JULIA SCHIFINI
I haven’t had a chance to go back to Boston yet. So. Not yet.

MICHAEL TATE
Oh! You should totally check it out, it’s — it’s umm. It’s a little strange? It’s a little, umm — it’s a little uhh creepy, little uhh cool? I guess?

JULIA SCHIFINI
That was almost right. I appreciate that.

AMANDA McLOUGHLIN
Ahh. Very good.

MICHAEL TATE
Oh. Umm. So yeah. We call it the uh – the Ewok Village, especially there because it’s all these these hammock apartments. And, umm. And I —

JULIA SCHIFINI
Amanda, do you know what Ewoks are from?

AMANDA McLOUGHLIN
Are they the furry ones from Star Wars?

JULIA SCHIFINI
Yes, you did good.

AMANDA McLOUGHLIN
Nice! Nailed it!

JULIA SCHIFINI
I’m proud of you.

AMANDA McLOUGHLIN
Thank you.

MICAHEL
They’re the little guys. They’re like Chewbacca’s but…shrunk…shrunkded. Uhh.

AMANDA McLOUGHLIN
I liked those guys, they were very cute. They were a like, they were too cute. Like, every other alien in Star Wars is just horrible looking. And then the Chewbacca’s or sorry the Ewoks are just so cute!

MICHAEL TATE
Yeah!

JULIA SCHIFINI
That is a bold statement against all of the alien races in Star Wars, Amanda.

AMANDA McLOUGHLIN
I mean, they’re — they’re more like traditionally what we think of as aliens. LIke…

JULIA SCHIFINI
Yes. Okay.

AMANDA McLOUGHLIN
Slimy skin, or you know blue trunk noses and all kinds of stuff.


MICHAEL TATE
Yeah.

JULIA SCHIFINI
Vaguely reptilian.

AMANDA McLOUGHLIN
Vaguely reptilian.

JULIA SCHIFINI
Gotcha. Are there reptilians in Red Line?

MICHAEL TATE
Uhh, no. No no — I mean —

JULIA SCHIFINI
Okay.


MICHAEL TATE
We haven’t found any yet, I mean that would probably —

AMANDA McLOUGHLIN
Not yet.

MICHAEL TATE
You know, to be honest — at this point, I — I don’t know — we we could. There’s lots of weird stuff that we get to see and there are certainly a lot of urban uhh myths and legends that umm — that make their way around uhh the communities. Umm. So, you know, we have a few that uhh that umm Third Sight had given me. Some of these I — personally — I — I hadn’t personally heard of? But I have notes and stuff on them, I can answer questions I guess. But I have umm — uhh — tunnel dwellers. Uh, there’s like this whole —

AMANDA McLOUGHLIN
Whoa.

MICHAEL

So like there’s this whole thing about tunnel dwellers, um, and, and, you know like, um…so look there’s rumors of like like the secret communities, um, known as tunnel dwellers, and they’re hidden deep within the tunnels of the Red Line, so some of the things about them that that that people talk about, um are, the fact that, um, that the uh… the tunnel dwellers have carved out spaces, uh, far beyond the regular known tunnels. Like they they have dug, like, for real deep deep deep tunnels further out.

 

AMANDA

Whoah.

 

MICHAEL
All throughout Boston and Cambridge. Uh, in which to build their uh…hidden cities. Um, I don’t, I I’ve never come across that personally, but to be honest there are certain tunnels you just don’t want to stroll down at certain times.

 

JULIA
Sure.

 

AMANDA

Like any neighborhood, there’s the certain places that you don’t go to alone…

 

MICHAEL
Exactly!

 

AMANDA
…after dark.

 

MICHAEL
Exactly, and it didn’t take long for this type of stuff to happen. It’s like almost, like the second the referendum went through and people got down there, it like, there were already good block bad block, but…tunnels.

 

AMANDA
Mmm.

 

JULIA
Like any, like any community building.

 

MICHAEL

Yeah.

 

JULIA
What I’m concerned about with these, uh, these tunnels that apparently exist outside of the Red Line tunnels, um…Boston’s a coastal city. Are they…

 

AMANDA
Yeah.

 

JULIA

…excavating properly? That would worry me…

 

MICHAEL

I know!

 

JULIA
About the stability of the city itself.

 

MICHAEL
I know, because what if they like, go right out into the ocean and then they flood out the tunnels, that’s just not…

 

AMANDA
Or, like, the bedrock could get compromised, you don’t know…

 

MICHAEL

Right

 

JULIA

That’s not good.

 

MICHAEL
Right.

 

AMANDA

New England is just a pile of rocks that’s like “this is as close as we can get to our limit, goodbye.”

 

JULIA
I don’t know if these tunnel dwellers have architecture or structural engineering degrees.

 

AMANDA
Like you don’t know, maybe there’s a systemic problem at the local architecture school, and people are being driven to take up the, like, minimalist tunnel-dwelling…

 

MICHAEL

Yeah.

 

AMANDA
…semi-camping lifestyle.

MICHAEL
Well, like, there’s no rule about what a tunnel-dweller could be, they could be like…

AMANDA
Mmhm.

MICHAEL
They could be very well organized, or they could be, uh, kind of uh, you know, like….CHUDs.

JULIA
Yeah.

MICHAEL
You know, like troglodyte-type people.

JULIA
You could get some full…

AMANDA
Right.

JULIA
…mole people action going on here.

MICHAEL
Yeah, yeah, they could be Morlocks! Maybe. Umm, but uh, I think that’s kind of what I’m really getting at here, is that, um, I think that once you start living underground, people start creating their own little bits of, of truth and fiction and start mixing them a little bit. So you know, they’ve already gotten this reputation for being somewhat mischievous, and that they sabotage some of the trains, and that you know they kind of like…

JULIA
Vaguely gremlins-esque.

AMANDA
Right.

MICHAEL
Yeah, exactly, so like their stealing things from like, mechanical parts, to like build their own stuff, to dig, and that’s kind of like the the rumor that surrounds them…

AMANDA
Okay, proposal. Proposal

MICHAEL
Uh huh.

JULIA
Go for it.

AMANDA
What if there were chaotic good tunnel dwellers? Where instead of stealing parts and disrupting train service, they like–without telling anybody–they finish the second avenue subway, and excavated a new tunnel, and extended it down to the lower east side and Chinatown. Wouldn’t that be amazing?

JULIA
That’s your New Yorker reference there.

AMANDA
Yeah. Or they cleared debris from the tracks so that track fires don’t happen. Or when someone falls, someone dashes out of the tunnel, someone pops them back up, like gives them a little, a little boost, and like they just keep the trains running on time, quietly, from beneath…

MICHAEL
Yeah.

JULIA
Way to give a good spin on the tunnel dwellers.

MICHAEL
Yeah…

AMANDA
I’m just saying, it would be very helpful, if they’re there underground, unseen, omnipresent, then like…help me get to work on time!

MICHAEL

Well, like, that’s kind of like the best case scenario, really, I think, is that they, that they are doing something helpful. But most people don’t think that. Most people think that they’re eating people.

AMANDA
I try to look on the bright side, even for people who have forsaken the sun.

MICHAEL
Yeah, you know, ‘cause, ‘cause…since we don’t seem them so much, people start making up things about like they’re certain that “oh, this guy disappeared.” Meanwhile, he could have just moved out of the Red Line, and so it always becomes about, “oh, he got eaten by a tunnel dweller.”

JULIA
Oh, man, that’s not good!

AMANDA
And like the, “I’m sorry that we don’t want to confront the reality that like Ben is gay and his parents kicked him out,” or that Julie just really wanted to get out of town and become a doctor elsewhere.

MICHAEL
Right.

AMANDA
It’s easier to say, “aw man, tunnel dwellers, you know.”

MICHAEL
Or…

JULIA
They got ‘im!

MICHAEL
Right! Or you just wanted fresh air. You know, that that that’s, it freaks people out sometimes. “Why are you going up to the surface for?” For fresh air? I don’t know, people get weird. So, um, yeah, so…

JULIA
Wanted to see some grass, maybe? I don’t know.

MICHAEL
So they also think though, and this is also another little rumor…is that they use subway rats as messengers, or spies, um, uh, uh, uh that are in fact rats themselves that spy and then come back and and and tell on people.

JULIA
It’s like Pizza Rat to the extreme!

MICHAEL
Yeah. Yeah, no, it’s pretty crazy. But, you know, I think the thing to take away here is that there’s always, you know, some element of truth, right? To these things is that is that.

AMANDA
Of course.

MICHAEL
I think in this case what you have is, you have these homeless encampments that, you know, we’re very well aware of in some of the unused tunnels. And the camps are, were at least semi-permanent, splicing in water and electric lines, serving as as other parts of the city. These people don’t actually call themselves “tunnel dwellers.” They’re just people.

JULIA
Makes sense.

AMANDA
People who happen to live in tunnels.

MICHAEL
Yes.

AMANDA
It’s fine.

MICHAEL
I mean technically we all do, down there. So…

JULIA
That is true!

MICHAEL
So it’s probably…

AMANDA
Wow.

MICHAEL
…not fair to single them out, right?

JULIA
Yeah.

AMANDA
That’s true.

MICHAEL
Exactly.

AMANDA
What are houses, but detached tunnels above ground?

MICHAEL
Exactly. Exactly.

JULIA
We all live in tunnels when it comes down to it.

AMANDA (Stoner voice)
Listen, we all live in tunnels of our own making, man! We all let our…(breaks in laughter)

We all let our…I’m trying to channel my drunken college self trying to out-talk philosophy bros from BC in bars.

JULIA
Gotcha. Thank you for that.

AMANDA
Being like “listen man. We all just make a tunnel for ourselves in our mind. We gotta get on the same track man, we gotta like open it up.” Anyway.

MICHAEL
Well, I have to say, you guys have been really great, because I was a little scared coming on. So but I’m already really relaxed, I really appreciate it.

JULIA
Aw, well we’re glad, Michael.

MICHAEL
I really do appreciate it. It’s a…I was…I know you guys usually, you usually have drinks on the show, right?

JULIA
Mmhm.

AMANDA
Mmhm.

MICHAEL
Yeah, I don’t, I don’t have a drink, so I was like, “oh, how am I gonna…how am I gonna deal, and so…” I, ‘cause, I mean…I. Nevermind. I’ll just…I’ll just keep on with the, the thing. I don’t want to derail, you know.

JULIA
No man, I get it, I get it.

MICHAEL
Yeah.

JULIA

Your drink could be tea, your drink could be coffee, it doesn’t matter. As long as we’re having fun and building communities together.

AMANDA
Yeah man–the real narcotic is enthusiasm!

MICHAEL
Yeah!

AMANDA
Just get excited about your myth, and you’re on board with us!

MICHAEL
Yeah, right? Like I could have tea, right?

JULIA
Yeah.

MICHAEL
And tea would be something for *my spirit.*

AMANDA/JULIA
Heeeyyyy!

MICHAEL
That would tie in, I think.

AMANDA
I’m in.

MICHAEL
I like it. I like that take on it. And I don’t feel so unincluded now in the drinking.

JULIA
Nah, you got it man.

MICHAEL
So I have..why did I staple this?…uhh… Okay. So, yeah, Charlie on the MTA. Do you know the whole thing with Charlie on the MTA?

AMANDA
No.

JULIA
I, I…know that your Charlie Card is the thing you use to get on the sub…the the the Metro, no God, why do I not remem–the T!

AMANDA
The T?

JULIA
The T! I’ve lived in too many cities at this point! I don’t know the names for the subways anymore!

MICHAEL
Well, the thing about the the the, well, the…Charlie on the MTA is like a song but but but now it’s kind of taken it’s own whole thing…the idea is that this man, uh, bought a ticket to get on the, uhhh, MBTA, but neglected to bring enough cash to purchase an exit fare, and then he got stuck on the MTA forever.

AMANDA
Oooo

MICHAEL
Which…

JULIA
Oh my god, that’s awesome!

MICHAEL
Exactly! Exactly, but I…alright, out of most of the things that are here, I don’t normally buy into stuff like that, but I I I I kind of believe in um, in in in, some degree of spirit, right? So, and like, that’s just not coincidence about the show and all, I just mean like I do, I do believe in that, you know, that there’s at least maybe something going on.

AMANDA
Animating force, sure.

MICHAEL
Yeah! So, so so, the part of the thing that they talk about a lot is that you know, while, while we all know that, that the song is a complete work of fiction, uh, that many of the T riders have claimed to have seen Charlie’s ghost while riding the rails. You know, similar to the mayor of Red Line issues, but, ah, I’ll get into that guy in a sec.

JULIA
Sure.

MICHAEL
But, it, it, you know, um, but here’s the thing is that, it could, it could possibly be something along those lines, because you know, spirits and all. They’re kind of real.

JULIA
Hell, yeah! And, uh, it’s also interesting, the few times that I rode the Red Line when I was in Boston, because I was more Green Line and Orange Line when I was living there. So, what I remember vividly from being in Boston and riding the Red Line, was I remember that they had ads that they would specifically like almost do multiple of them in a row, so that as you’re going by in the train…

AMANDA
[gasp]

MICHAEL
Oh!

JULIA
…it almost looked like the picture was moving.

AMANDA
Ooo

JULIA
So it almost could be something like that!

MICHAEL
Yeah! My god, you’re right.

AMANDA
I, I love that idea! I am terrified though of the idea that you’re just looking out the subway in a tunnel, expect not to see anything, and you’re like, “okay, cool, like another train, whatever, AAhhh!” Like, “scary man face in the window!” Like, I don’t like that whatsoever. You know, Julia, how much I dislike the trope of like in horror movies, looking behind me, there’s someone in the mirror, like I just hate that idea of a face being where face should not be, and I do not want to see that on my commute.

MICHAEL
It’s like that, uh…It’s like that cylindrical children’s toy, where like there’s the image, and you spin the thing,

AMANDA
Yes.

MICHAEL
And it’s got the slots, and the image moves as it spins. It’s kind of like…

AMANDA
It was like the height of technology in 1910

JULIA

It was something-trope. Not heliotrope. That’s a…

AMANDA

Something like that.

MICHAEL

Yeah. I don’t…all I know is that it was in a movie I watched once, “House on Haunted Hill.”

JULIA

Xenotrope?

AMANDA
Uh, I don’t really know, but what I do know is, I studied media theory in college, so my degree was in literature, but I also did a lot of like, media theory, and how’s the internet changing what we read and what we write, and all that kind of stuff. Um…and one of my favorite readings was this guy called Shivelbusch, who wrote kind of the first examination of how historically train travel changed the way that people think and read and see. And like at the time scholars were so nervous, and like just people in the world, that trains would, like…break our brains, man! You know, that like seeing the world go by that quickly, cause, like otherwise it was horseback, and the most you could get up to was like 30 miles an hour, at a real gallop. You know, but not for that long. And so the question was like, if you’re sitting still and looking out the window, and the world is passing you by so quickly, does it…is it going to break your eyesight? Are people going to adapt to see things that quickly out the window? You know, like what does it mean to read a newspaper and then look up, and just see the world like flying by you? Or like, seeing the first talkie, right?

MICHAEL

Yeah!

AMANDA

It was like, before that, the movie would be silent, there’d be an organist, you know somebody in the theatre playing along, and you know, great, whatever, fine. But to see…to hear…the people on the screen?! What?!?! You know, that would have been so crazy!

MICHAEL

Yeah! There had to have been people that really just freaked out.

AMANDA
Yeah. Or I mean in a way it’s kind of the opposite, this origin of the Charlie myth, of um…people who wouldn’t be photographed, or who wouldn’t sit for, um, I don’t know how it’s pronounced, a daguerreotype. Daregotype?

JULIA
I don’t know…

AMANDA
The predecessor to photography.

JULIA
Okay.

AMANDA

The like, very long exposure photos. Um, because there was a fear of, the photo takes something from me.

JULIA

Captures your soul.

MICHAEL

Soul.

AMANDA

Exactly.

MICHAEL

Yeah.

AMANDA
Um, and so it’s kind of the opposite of that, right? Where like the rendering of a person is, is creating a spirit.

MICHAEL

Yeah.

AMANDA

Or is projecting a spirit into the world. I think it’s very cool.

MICHAEL

Yeah, yeah, no totally, don’t take them on any Universal tour rides or anything like that. You’re gonna really just destroy them.

AMANDA
No one make a GIF of this image, I think it would then take over the internet.

MICHAEL
Yeah, yeah, I don’t know, that’s craziness. Um, so, like do we have more time for more of these…

JULIA
Of course we do!

MICHAEL
…these things, ‘cause I mean, I feel like…

AMANDA
Time is an illusion, man. Talk however long you want.

MICHAEL
Okay, cool, cool. Uh, so look, I also…I…this is one of the craziest ones, and I’m saving the best for last, not this one, but the one after it. Uh, yeah, ‘cause, this one is actually some…this one is as near and dear to me. This one is an example of something that I think is kind of like, a bunch of hooey. Uh, so, I ahh, I…okay. So, they’re making me say this. Apparently, there’s like a-a-a-a rat king?

JULIA
Oooo

AMANDA
Oh, no.

MICHAEL

A rat king and a rat city.

JULIA/AMANDA

Noooooo

MICHAEL

Yeah, so look, alright, look, so we obviously have a big rat problem in Boston, so so

JULIA
Any large metropolitan area does.

AMANDA
Yeah, but especially the wharf ones. They’ve got it real bad in Boston, yeah.

MICHAEL
So, you know, some of the, some of the things that they do say about the rat king as much it makes me shudder to say, um, ah, ah, so you know, there’s kinda got that, you know, the intelligent ones have an instinctive knowledge of transit technology, which they love to mess with.

JULIA
That is vaguely horrifying, Michael, I’m not gonna lie.

MICHAEL
Yeah, isn’t it, I mean that’s really out there, but like they think like possibly influenced by WWII pilot gremlin lore…

AMANDA

[gasps]

JULIA

Amazing!

MICHAEL

…that this is…

AMANDA
Whoah!

MICHAEL

Yeah! Um, you know, some believe that the rat king was created by the mayor himself, Mayor uh, uh, Mayor Chelmsworth. Um, who after successfully created our new city, decided to set himself a new goal of creating a non-human civilization.

JULIA
That’s very mad scientist.

AMANDA
That’s…that’s a…that’s biiig…leap, though. That’s like saying “oh okay, I won my minor league softball tournament, I want to go try out for the Yankees.” Do the Yankees even have try outs? No, they just buy people. That’s not how it works.

MICHAEL

Exactly, I’m gonna make my own World Series.

AMANDA
Oh, I’m so sorry–the Red Sox. That was very insensitive of me.

JULIA
That was really insensitive. Excuse you.

AMANDA

I’m a bit thrown off by the rat king thing, I don’t like it.

MICHAEL
It’s okay, I mean, if it’s just between us and and and whatnot, and and and whoever listens to the show as well, is that…I’m not a Red Sox fan, I’m not a fan of baseball really, so.

JULIA
Damn, Michael. Alright.

MICHAEL
Yeah, I watch a lot of TV and movies and I squeeze a lot of stress balls, so…

JULIA
Fair enough. Don’t we all.

MICHAEL
Yeah, so living down there we are seeing an influx of rats. Um, ah…being able to sustain themselves because there’s trash, and there’s all sorts of levels of the things that they’re attracted to, so…

JULIA
Yes, the things that rats need to live.

AMANDA
Yeah, it really is amazing how well engineered cities are to support rats. Like, I know that’s not the intention.

JULIA
And pigeons.

AMANDA
And pigeons. Right. Just the idea of like densely populated, lots of refuse, lots of water. You know, lots of hidden crevices for you to go in. Like, an unending array of garbage. You know? It’s, ah…it’s pretty good.

MICHAEL

Yeah. Yeah, no, I…

JULIA
For the rats, at least.

AMANDA
For the rats.

JULIA
No, it’s all relative man.

MICHAEL
I see lots rats all the time, but I mean, I would buy into the idea that maybe somebody at some point has or is going to use them as career rats. And I think maybe that would be the best use of them, because you know, I don’t want to see them get hurt or anything like that…

JULIA

Yeah…

AMANDA
Yeah, just do something that adds to society, like create a meme like pizza rat.

MICHAEL

Yeah! Exactly. Exactly. Or maybe just an entertainment show made out of them or something like that. That way they can perform and do circus routines or something.

AMANDA
Live your dream, man.

MICHAEL

Uh, so look, this kind of all feeds back into, like, I mentioned Chelmsford. Now, do you guys know, like what happened with…

JULIA
I do. Amanda might not.

AMANDA

Listen man, I’m a new yorker. I don’t journey north that often.

JULIA

I still have friends in Boston, I hear all the news.

AMANDA
Gimme, give me a quick synopsis.

MICHAEL

Okay, well, alright, look, so this…this guy. This…uh, I’m gonna try to use my nice words. Um, decided that his life was incomplete without taking on a task that he had absolutely no intention on following through with. He set into motion many a things, which one of them included me becoming homeless briefly, but probably, you know, that’s really neither here nor there. Um, but uhhh…so he he decides he wants to secede the Red Line from uh…from the rest of Boston. To become its own, its own city. And so he starts this campaign. And he gets a referendum put on the ballot. And it just squeaked past and became a real thing. And he uh uhh uhh reneged on his promise and reneged on his duties to lead this city and left it completely high and dry and in chaos. So yeah, so he did, he really did us dirty as the kids say.

JULIA
Yeah, he dicked, Amanda.

AMANDA
It’s almost like politicians can run for office as a joke, suddenly find themselves winning, and fuck a lot of things up.

MICHAEL

But in regards to to this mayor though, he like literally disappeared after the election, and soo..

AMANDA
Riiight…nice.

MICHAEL

…it’s taken on a life of its own as far as where he is and what he could possibly be doin. Now, some of the rumors about his whereabouts is that um, some people believe that having accomplished his goals, he walked off into the tunnels, and remains underground, which I’m assuming that’s where we get into the whole rat king idea. Um…

JULIA
Sure…

MICHAEL

Some people just believe that he’s lost in the tunnels. Others believe that he’s deliberately living in the belly of the city he created, and occasionally walking the trains…in disguise? I don’t know what that means.

JULIA

So like, disguised, but exploring the city.

AMANDA

And like boarding trains, and walking through them, I suppose.

MICHAEL

Oh! Oh! Yeah, okay that makes more sense now, yeah. They think that he’s just getting on the trains and and just pretending to be something that he’s not.

JULIA
Like a princess Jasmine, to the Red Line’s Agrabah, I guess.

AMANDA

With less belly.

MICHAEL

I guess. I…you know, maybe he does dress up like Princess Jasmine. I don’t…I don’t know.

JULIA
Maybe!

AMANDA
Live your truth, live your truth.

MICHAEL

Uh, so…

AMANDA

It’s always a fun day when you realize it’s ComicCon weekend because you look up and see like four Narrutos or something.

JULIA

Subway Narrutos.

AMANDA
On the subway with you. Ah, it’s beautiful.

MICHAEL

I’ve been meaning to go, I would love to do that. Um.

AMANDA
Yeah, we’ll get drinks. Hit us up.

MICHAEL

Yeah.

JULIA

Tea.

AMANDA
Or, ah tea. All kinds of tea. There’s so many tea houses.

MICHAEL
Yeah, that would be great too. Yeah, we’ll do some tea. That would be wonderful, actually. I like um, white tea and oolong, and those are good things.

JULIA
I would do a first date at a tea place.

AMANDA
Um, I went on a first date at a tea place once, would you like to hear about it?

JULIA
Yes please!

AMANDA

Okay, so it was with a guy I met at a Neil Gaiman event. Um…

JULIA
I remember this guy now!

AMANDA

Because I I tweeted, for some reason, something to Neil Gaiman along the lines of, okay so I tweeted, “I’m at the Neil Gaiman reading. Um, flying solo in the balcony. If you know me and you’re here, say Hi.” You know, because I had friends on the internet who I knew were in New York and might have been going, so anyway Neil retweeted that, and so a bunch of men just came up to me and said hello in the balcony. One of whom, I thought was nice, and took me on a date a few days later, to a tea house in little Korea town.

JULIA
Cute.

AMANDA
In New York City. And um, it was horrible! He couldn’t talk very well, to me, like no shade, but it was just like this awkward in person. Was a sword guy, talked about his swords.

JULIA
Oh no!

MICHAEL

Uh oh!

AMANDA

And I was like, um. And at the end of our date, I was like, alright, I was along for the ride. This was a nice person, like, we won’t date, but like whatever. And then at the end of the date, he proceeded to give me a demo CD of his animation reel.

JULIA
Nope.

AMANDA

Because he was looking for jobs as an animator.

JULIA
Nope nope.

AMANDA
And I was like…

JULIA
Nope nope nope.

AMANDA
I’m a nineteen-year-old sophomore at NYU, I don’t know what you want from me exactly. But that’s, uh, that’s my…

MICHAEL
Whoah.

AMANDA

…my tea house date.

MICHAEL
That is a really terrible date, I’m really sorry.

AMANDA
Yeah, thank you. Sorry to derail here, but…

MICHAEL

No, no…

AMANDA
I’ll have to go on another tea house date…

JULIA
A better one.

AMANDA

With an excellent person, and then I’ll, I’ll, you know, erase the memory.

MICHAEL
Yeah. No, that’s a terri…I mean yeah, when we come in, we should all go get some tea, when I come to see ComiCon. I would like to do that next year, I think that would be nice. Umm…

AMANDA
We’re down.

MICHAEL
I love New York, I love…

JULIA
I go every year, so we should do it.

AMANDA
What would you cosplay as, Michael?

MICHAEL
Oh. That’s a great question. Um probably as…um…man, who…I really like, um…have you guys been watching on Netflix, um… The Bright Sessions?

JULIA
Yes!

AMANDA
Hell yeah, I have!

MICHAEL
Yeah. Yeah, I would totally um…I know it’s uh uh… I feel like an AU sort of thing, I think I would want to be, um, like Dr. Bright…

AMANDA
Oooo

MICHAEL

I like Dr. Bright a lot, so like…

AMANDA
Gender-swapped Dr. Bright, I love it.

MICHAEL
Or! You know, like I really like arsParadoxica!

JULIA
Also a really great show.

AMANDA
All of my favorite shows.

MICHAEL

Yeah. I really really like that show too, so um…I don’t know…again I feel like I keep gender-swapping here, but I would totally dig being Sally Grissom.

AMANDA
That’s fine. I want to be a gender-swapped Captain Eiffel from Wolf 359.

MICHAEL
That would be great! Yeah, I think that would be great. I think we should all go as as as something like that, and then there would almost be like a theme going.

JULIA
It would be awesome.

AMANDA
It would be cute. Can’t you…aren’t you excited, Julia, to see the Caleb and Adam cosplays of like young, cute gay kids…

MICHAEL
Yeah…

AMANDA
From high school.

JULIA
So cute!

MICHAEL
That’d be great.

AMANDA
I can’t wait.

MICHAEL

That would be great. Yeah, no, that’s gonna be lots of, lots of fun when that starts becoming more of a thing. You know, that’d be great.

AMANDA
Amazing.

MICHAEL
I feel like, I’m terrible, I feel like I always derail, but, um, I was ahh, with the Mayor. Right?

JULIA
Right.

MICHAEL
So…

JULIA
Yes, back to the mayor.

AMANDA

I’m sorry.

MICHAEL
Yeah, no, I’m sorry! Yeah, look, I’ll talk about anything all day long, but the only thing is is that I know that my bosses get really really intense. Look, it’s really weird at my place, and I problably shouldn’t’ve said that on public anything…

JULIA
We’ll, we’ll cut it it’s fine.

AMANDA

Yeah, we can totally edit, man, don’t worry.

MICHAEL
Awesome. Alright, good. But there’s like, um…like, since this, this, is kind of like a show about mythology and stuff like that, and and, and urban legends, is that uh, uh…we have a lot of pneumatic tube systems in our building. That, the management uses to communicate to us.

AMANDA
Are they leftover from the days when like big apartment buildings would have, mail, like US mail connections into the basement?

JULIA
Well, apparently they’re still using them.

MICHAEL

Yeah.

AMANDA

Or, I’m saying “are they new?” Are they like newly installed?

MICHAEL

No, they’re newer because they go everywhere. They goo

AMANDA
Oooo

MICHAEL
They go, there’s places in the building that are like keycard locked, and we’re just a uh uh, we’re ThirdSight. We just deal with, uh, you know, uhh predictions. And all sorts of types of things like that, so. It’s sort of weird that we have that kind of security.

JULIA
Yeah, that seems a little bit disproportionate.

MICHAEL
Yeah, so like, but it’s almost like too, there’s rumors that we’re bugged, and they can listen to everything that we do and say. Which, you know for the most part is like whatever, because I don’t have anything really to hide, but it’s kind of weird when you’re having a conversation, and then uh uh uh, a message comes to you through the pneumatic tube and it’s an answer to your question.

AMANDA
Oooo

JULIA
That’s sketchy as hell!

AMANDA

Yeah, that’s a hard “no.” That’s haaard “no.”

MICHAEL
There’s some paranormal activity at that place…

JULIA
Oooo

MICHAEL

I feel like sometimes there’s, yeah like sometimes there’s a channeling that goes on. I do, I do, like a friend of mine who had passed away right before I got the job, and it’s kind of a complex, convoluted explanation, but he was responsible for me getting the job. And, uh, I handle a column, called “Dear Leon,” and it’s kind of like a Dear Abby sort of thing. But I use I Ching to help people out. And I genuinely feel, though, that when I’m doing it, and I try to do it from Leon’s perspective. And there’s is that thing of like Leon channeling through me, almost like he’s in my ear. And I think that’s kind of neat. And that’s the only place that that started happening, and it then, you know. Every now and then I still feel like I hear him though. I guess that’s kind of weird, I’m sorry I said that out loud.

JULIA

No, that’s cool. We talk a lot about, we have personal friends who you know, their relatives have The Sight or something like that.

AMANDA
RIght.

JULIA

You know, and they channel ghosts and stuff like that. So, and it’s something that we’re super open to. You know, just as people.

MICHAEL
Cool. Alright, good.

AMANDA
Yeah, I’m not in the business of telling other people that their experiences aren’t valid.

MICHAEL

Okay, good good. Cause I, you know I is that that preconceived notion that somebody’s going to laugh at you. That’s good, that’s good, I’m glad there’s no judgement there.

AMANDA
But isn’t that, on the flip side, isn’t that a beautiful feeling, though, when you’re with friends and you, you know, say something kind of hinting at a thing that you want to go into, and they give you that implicit or explicit sign that you know, “yeah man, let’s go there.” You know?

MICHAEL

Yeah.

AMANDA
Like talking about mental health, or talking about you know loss, or some kind of thing that is not appropriate all the time. You know, but to have that little nod of recognition, you know.

MICHAEL

Yeah.

AMANDA
And to realize, right, this is okay to do. That’s really beautiful.

MICHAEL

Yeah. I always look forward at the end of what I’m saying though, because you know, it’s easy to get the nod to go ahead but then, like when you’re done, and they’re just staring at you.

AMANDA
Sure.

MICHAEL
And you’re like… ahhhh

AMANDA

Oh, yeah, me too, don’t worry. That’s, that’s a good one.

MICHAEL
Yeah. Yeah, so I …thank you, thank you. Because sometimes I just get a little excited and I say stuff, and so…yeah. Uhhh….

JULIA
Don’t we all.

AMANDA

Us too. Us too.

MICHAEL

Yeah, I mean, those are all the ones that they gave me. And I actually gave you an extra one with the with the pneumatic tube stystem.

JULIA
I appreciate that.

MICHAEL

Yeah, it’s really…

AMANDA
This is totally totally real.

MICHAEL

Yeah, it’s weird and you know, there’s like hidden boozy spots in the place, like people hide booze all over the place, which also doesn’t help.

JULIA
Yeah, no.

AMANDA

Nooo…

MICHAEL

Yeah, right? But I guess it’s kind of cool if I was thinking about it like years ago, have it like, you know, working at a place and having like a bar at the place would have been kind of cool, but uhh, I think just with the new perspective and all, it’s just…doesn’t really help.

[Awkward silence.]

AMANDA

Huh.

JULIA

Yeah, man. Well, you know, thank you so much Michael. I think you gave us a really cool insight on to the urban legends of the Red Line.

MICHAEL

Cool.

JULIA
And I think that now I totally have to make a trip back to Boston sometime soon.

MICHAEL
That would be great. Yeah, no and this, you know, I really like this podcast, I mean, I haven’t listened to all the episodes, but uh, I really really like it.

JULIA
Well, thank you.

AMANDA
Thank you.

MICHAEL

I listen to it…yeah, like I feel like it has this great addictive quality to it, and I like it, so…you guys are great.

AMANDA

We appreciate it. And we appreciate you giving us your perspective on the urban legends of a nascent place. You know? Like that’s a very cool kind of moment.

JULIA

A baby place.

AMANDA
Exactly. And, uh, and seeing a

MICHAEL
Hopefully, hopefully…

AMANDA

…baby place and its mythology kind of start to take off, it is pretty beautiful.

MICHAEL
Yeah, no, I appreciate being asked on and or at least told to my bosses to come on. That’s really cool.

AMANDA

Whatever your headcanon accepts, we will take.

MICHAEL

I appreciated it.

[Spirits theme fades in.]

AMANDA

Alright, it was our pleasure Michael, thank you so much.

MICHAEL
Thanks guys.

JULIA

Have a good day, be careful of the rats.

AMANDA
Bye.

MICHAEL

Bye.

AMANDA

Oh, and listeners, remember:

JULIA

Stay creepy.

AMANDA

Stay cool.

[Sprits theme crossfades into Charlie on the MTA (Greater Boston theme)]

CREDITS

ALEXANDER DANNER

Greater Boston is written and produced by Alexander Danner and Jeff Van Dreason, with recording and technical assistance from Marck Harmon.

The Spirits Podcast is by Amanda McLoughlin and Julia Schifini

Spirits of Greater Boston was arranged by Alexander Danner & Jeff Van Dreason, and improvised by Amanda McLoughlin, Julia Schifini, and James Oliva.

This episode featured James Oliva as Michael Tate, and our very special guests, Julia Schifini and Amanda McLoughlin as Julia Schifini and Amanda McLoughlin.

We are so thoroughly delighted to have Amanda and Julia join us for this Spirits Podcast / Greater Boston crossover! If you’re not listening to the Spirits Podcast, then you are making a mistake. Every episode features Amanda and Julia discussing real myths and urban legends from around the world, accompanied by drinks. These are two smart, incredibly funny, and usually slightly inebriated ladies. Their show 100% fun, with a side of cultural education. You really have to go check it out.

And if you want more creepy goodness this Halloween, please check out What’s the Frequency?, a psychedelic noir audio drama, written by James Oliva and produced by me: Alexander Danner! And featuring a performance by Julia Schifini. Find it on Apple Podcasts or your favorite podcatcher.

The Spirits Podcast Theme is by Kevin McLeod

Charlie on the MTA is recorded by Emily Peterson and Dirk Tiede

[Music fades out.]

COOKIE

JAMES

And like have your mouth at the end, and just kind of like in the cartoon sense, just GLOOOMP, like right down.

AMANDA
No, I think that you would probably choke and die. You would probably asphyxiate.

JAMES
Well, wait, but if we’re gonna fantasize about putting a burrito in a pneumatic tube, why can’t we fantasize about the idea that it just…you know…shoots into your mouth and you eat it?

JULIA

I’m just saying, then: Ghost in the Tube.

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