Lynn, Nahant

A complete stranger threw a dollar bill at me today.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. This afternoon’s Wander took me to Lynn and Nahant, adjacent communities that couldn’t be more different, but are special in their own ways.

My reason for going to Lynn is this: WFNX.

*Technically* I wasn’t trespassing, because the door was kind of open.

ClearChannel (the corporate music machine) bought Boston’s alternative radio rock station, 101.7; the FCC is reviewing the sale, but a lot of the station’s much loved hosts went off the air on Friday. I couldn’t listen.

WFNX became my favorite station in high school, the first time I ever had a commute. It remained in the No. 1 position even when I lived in Richmond, Va., for college, and when I began commuting to Fitchburg, where I’d have to switch over to the New Hampshire frequency that carried my station. It was the music, the people, and the laughs — especially the Sandbox.

Lynn!

The Sandbox, FNX’s morning show for a couple years (ending in 2010), was the only thing I looked forward to about my hour-long commute. Charlie, Fletcher and Ed were the anchors. They were hilarious. They cared about their listeners (the Sandboxers). They broadcast from Lynn (“One Financial Center,”), and now they’re another thing that’s died in Massachusetts. It hit me harder than maybe it should have. But then I figured: I spent two hours every day with them. Of course I’d miss WFNX.

In my lifetime, I’ve never heard much positive about Lynn (“Lynn, Lynn, city of sin, you never come out the way you came in,”). To me, it seemed like the city has good bones. Beautiful (empty) buildings; a beachfront with views of Boston, access to the highways. Is a reputation enough to keep people away?

Yes and no. The Lynnway is gross, for sure. But there’s a train station downtown, and plenty of redevelop-able space. This afternoon, as I walked through there, I found older couples, artists, church-goers and retailers. For the most part, people minded their own business. I flip-flopped my way around empty storefronts and cool architecture for several blocks. There was only one super-dicey area, when I had to walk past a man hanging out a Willow Street apartment who noticed me from 50 feet away — as I passed by, he threw a dollar at me, saying he was “making it rain,” and making other comments I won’t repeat here on a family blog.

Once I made it back to my car, I decided to head to Nahant, the Commonwealth’s smallest town (by land area, at just over 1 square mile), an island connected to Lynn by a causeway.

Nahant is gorgeous. It was always one of my favorite drives when I lived in Medford, and its beaches are gorgeous. Because it’s such a small town, you won’t find much in the way of shopping or entertainment (or public parking), but you will find rocky beaches with incredible views, fantastic Victorian mansions and adorable bungalows and sights so spectacular you have to stop in a no-parking zone just to take them in.

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