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The best Tour de Turtle bone rides are the ones where the places we visit are polar opposites. The nicest of the nice vs the dumpiest of the dumps. Now we haven’t had a bone ride in a while, so we put it to the turtle riding nation as to where we should travel next. Their choice was overwhelming – the 495 North belt. So we hit up the following nine towns in order and ranked them from nicest to crappiest: Chelmsford, Lowell, Dracut, Methuen, Lawrence, Haverhill, North Andover, Andover, Tewksbury.
Andover is a wonderful place to live, you just probably can’t afford to live there. If you could then you probably wouldn’t be interested in reading a blue collar blog like Turtleboy Sports. Here’s one thing that separates a nice town from a really nice town – sidewalks. All the main roads in Andover seem to have sidewalks:
You can go for walks without getting run over by some dooshnozzle from Lawrence testing out his new hdyraulics.
There’s not a bad thing you can say about Andover. It’s a beautiful town filled with beautiful people who make beautiful homes and beautiful children.
Honestly, 2-5 on this list could go either way. I guess since we have to pick one, we’d take Dracut first. Dracut is a little more rural than some of the other towns, which means less traffic, more peace and quiet, and hippie Bernie farmers who don’t want the pipeline coming through their town:
Chelmsford is extremely easy to get to since it’s got a couple exits off of 495. The houses and neighborhoods don’t necessarily blow you away like they do in an Andover, but it’s residential, it’s pleasant looking, and you’d have no problem living there as long as you’re willing to pay an inflated, Eastern Mass price for a three bedroom, one and a half bath home.
4. North Andover
Even though this is where Sam Allen is from, North Andover is a nice little town. It’s your classic suburbia. Not showing off like Andover or Lynnfield, but not really leaving you wanting for much more either.
Like I said, 2-5 could really go in any order. I guess the reason we have Tewksbury five is because we’ve written about it so many times. If your town keeps making it onto Turtleboy Sports because Asian massage parlors are getting busted or cock fighting rings are getting broken up, then that’s not a good sign. Tewksbury is a nice, pleasant residential town, but it’s also got a stretch that’s more “industrial”
We all owe Tewskbury a debt of gratitude as well, since they brought us the world’s greatest super market:
In your face Arty S!!!
But yea, Tewksbury is just another pleasant looking suburb that teachers in Lowell tell their kids they can move to if they study hard and do their homework.
Methuen is kind of a tweener city. It’s somewhere in between a nice place to live and a huge dump. I’d compare it to a Leominster. There’s about 45,000 people there, and some of them are grimier than others. Just like Leominster there’s a lot of really nice areas:
But the closer you get to downtown, it goes from “ehh, that’s not so bad”
To “we must be getting closer to Lawrence”
With a population of over 60,000, Haverhill is about the size of Framingham. It’s just a million times dumpier. I mean, it’s a step up from Lowell I suppose. There are some OK parts of town that you see driving through it:
Then it gets a little seedier
Then as you get close to Winter Street it turns into Holyoke
As soon as you see the Western Union, I don’t care what city you’re in, that means one thing – you’re getting warmer if you’re looking to score some drugs.
Lowell is kind of like Worcester without any good parts. If you think panhandling is bad in the Woo, take a trip to the Mill City sometime. The sign people there wear pajamas and accost you at every single gas station in town.
Lowell is exactly how Mark Wahlberg made it seem in The Fighter. It’s a bunch of dudes sitting on their stoops all day in tee-shirts acting like hardos.
Oh yea, and if you speak Cambodian and you wanna join a gang, then head on down to Lowell because they’re hiring. Just don’t move to Lowell if you like streets that are wide enough to drive down
Buildings that aren’t covered in satellite dishes, trash, and bed sheet curtains
Barber shops and nail salons
Just like in a lot of cities there is an ongoing battle between the older people who immigrated from countries like Portugal, and the new immigrants, who they don’t want mixing with their grandkids. In every major city you can tell you are at the home of an old Portuguese or Italian woman based on whether or not they have grape vines growing in their driveway:
This is the scenic view in Lowell
This is what 95% of the streets look like:
No matter where you go you’re almost guaranteed to come across a grizzled white guy in a hoodie standing near an abandoned factory
In Lowell, this is what they call a “playground”
Lowell even has satellite dishes that appear to have grown their own satellite dishes
There are a never ending supply of discarded mattresses and box springs – first come, first serve
Abandoned swivel chairs
Boarded up vacants
Abandoned businesses and billboards that no one wants to advertise on
And of course dudes walking down the street smoking blunts openly
There is no other city in Massachusetts that can approach the amount of grime, filth, and overall craptacularity of Lawrence. Seriously, I don’t know what number 2 would be (Holyoke, Chelsea, Brockton, Ware, Springfield, Lynn?) but none of them can hold a candle to Lawrence. It is hell on earth. The former mill town meets every possible requirement of a dump. There are a never ending supply of bootleg grocery stores, barber shops, and liquor stores, none of which are in English, but all of which proudly urge you to shop there with your food stamps:
Triple deckers covered in graffiti and satellite dishes, which adorn them like medals on a decorated war veteran:
People blaring their favorite ethnic tunes from their souped up Altimas, all of which sound exactly the same:
Who needs a Super Market when you have a Super Mas instead?
Lawrence has plenty of runaway shopping carts, which are a must have in the 2016 American urban ghetto:
Rapey looking alleys
Empty lots filled with trash and broken dreams of one day moving to Methuen
Boarded up vacants
Fences that are mainly used to keep the trash out of your yard
And of course Lawrence has the world’s highest concentration of able bodied men standing around doing nothing at 11:30 AM on a Wednesday:
Because apparently they’ve all invested their money wisely so they can afford to sit back all day, smoke blunts, and watch their portfolios grow. Chillin is so hot right now in the great city of Lawrence.
Agree? Disagree? Feel free to share your comments and let us know where we should take our next bone ride to. There are 351 towns and cities in Massachusetts. By our count we’ve been to 78 of them on these trips. I don’t care how long it takes, we will go to all 351 and we will rank them on one master list from nicest to crappiest town in the commonwealth.
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