Posted December 11th 2010 at 2:00 am by
in Boston, Media Mindfulness

Reginald S. Stuckey, An Outsider in Boston

Last week I discovered a collection of Boston-based rap videos by one Reginald S. Stuckey, whose Twitter feed announces, “I spit a different kind of flow. SGYG”. I don’t know what SGYG means.

I’m from Boston, and Reginald Stuckey is not.  But like him, I know what it’s like to be an outsider in a foreign city.  As the community media person at CoLab, I travel all the time.

In his inaugural Boston video, Stuckey says: “The first thing I had to do, was find a band that wanted to rock it with Stuck.” Watch him find that band in his video below. Don’t short-change yourself; watch this video until at least 48 seconds in.

Stuckey’s videos take place in Cambridge and Boston’s most established places (Newbury Street, Boston Public Garden, Harvard, and MIT) where Stuckey displays distinctly un-Boston behavior (singing, dancing in public, and engaging with groups of people he doesn’t know personally).

In Boston, like most of New England, people don’t say hello to each other on the street or in the halls – an act of respect for the privacy of the passerby.  The passerby who saw Mr. Stuckey at his work on Mass Ave., or worse, on Newbury Street, must have been taken aback.  But on the videos, they seem don’t seem to react.  Perhaps they are offering Mr. Stuckey his privacy.

His videos raise this question: What makes an insider and what makes an outsider to any given place?

Urban planners and scholars are often perpetual outsiders.  They bring their expertise to places and make recommendations on transportation, street design, policy, a host of things.  Planners have to ask themselves how to be ‘good’ outsiders.  Planners are bad outsiders when they think they know more than locals, when they can’t get past data and design, and when they tell but forget to ask.

Reginald S. Stuckey is a good outsider.  I like that he says SGYG in his Twitter tagline, because with that gesture, he made me an outsider to his world (Stuckeyville) rather than asking me for an in to mine (Boston).  That is a Boston move.  He’s prodding without forcing.  If you listen to the lyrics, his prod is yet weightier than it looks and sounds.

2 responses to “Reginald S. Stuckey, An Outsider in Boston”

  1. Ramya says:

    It’s interesting that you write, “un-Boston behavior (singing, dancing in public, and engaging with groups of people he doesn’t know personally).” When I first found myself in the Boston area, I felt the coldness (or what I assumed to be a lack of community coming from such a warm town like Austin). I say it’s interesting that you you equate those things to being un-Boston behavior because after really immersing myself in the unique neighborhoods of Boston I found those things. In fact, I found the streets of Boston to be, at times, warmer than the halls of the institute.

    I think that Boston isn’t the most welcoming of cities but once you find your way in, it’s pretty amazing. I hope it’s still there but if you walk down the Harvard Bridge towards Boston on the east side rail someone wrote “build community.” It might take longer than usual but Boston is full of people building community every day!

    I can’t agree more about “experts” who come in and talk without listening. Who better to create change than those who have lived in and will continue to live in the neighborhood. I think the role of the expert is to provide options and perspective that comes from working in different places and being the outsider looking in.

  2. Alexa Mills says:

    I love Austin! I’ll never forget the time I went to a music festival there. It was raining, and the woman at the security checkpoint just GAVE me her umbrella. I mean, she insisted that I take her umbrella so that I would be more comfortable. That would never happen in Boston, and if it did it would be an aberration.

    Then again, I remember walking through MIT a few years ago and complaining to my mother on the phone that I had lost my wallet and didn’t know how I would buy a ticket for the commuter rail, and some woman came up and handed me $10. I was shocked!

    Maybe if I moved to Austin, it would be just as difficult as it is in Boston to break in and find a niche.