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Move Elvis, and your car's dead

Posted by Clifford Atiyeh  January 29, 2009 03:30 PM

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Elvis parking space saver(Courtesy Jon Titone)

Thanks to "The Departed," the 2006 Martin Scorsese film where Jack Nicholson resembles Boston mob boss Whitey Bulger, moviegoers around the world now know the thuggish past of South Boston. Times have changed here, especially with the bourgeois influx of pricey hotels and convention centers on the waterfront. But past these props is the heart of this neighborhood, an alphabet soup of street names with a hearty mix of crumbled pavement and blind spots. If it's authentic Boston you're after, this is the right place.

Move that Elvis statue blocking a space on P Street, however, and you'll likely have slashed tires or scratched paint in less than 24 hours - or in the case of Chris Powers on N Street - a torn side-view mirror. The photo of Elvis was snapped by Jon Titone, a reader who responded to the Globe's "parking space saver of the day" feature (e-mail your photo here).

It's all part of the area's charming, medieval justice system. While the city allows parking space savers for up to 48 hours after a snow emergency, the locals have their own codes. Disobey them, and thou shall be punished with personal property destruction (thanks for the correction, astute readers).

For out-of-towners, see this photo gallery of parking space savers (chairs, cones, you name it), and for those that doubt retaliation, comb through the comments on this Globe article from last Saturday. One reader mentioned he'd rather "live in Gaza than Southie."

This blog is not written or edited by or the Boston Globe.
The author is solely responsible for the content.

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57 comments so far...
  1. If you want to use the archaic 2nd person singular (thou, thy, thee), please be sure to choose the correct one. "Thy" is for possession. "Thee" is the objective form of the pronoun. You needed to choose "thou" to be correct in this case.

    Posted by R BENNETT January 29, 09 05:43 PM
  1. southie eastie a bunch of -------- go figure

    Posted by Anonymous January 29, 09 06:44 PM
  1. I despise people that do this....I love the picture with two cones and ZERO snow on the ground. I live in Southie and people put down cones, etc. at the mere mention of snow. Even if there is no snow on the ground! It infuriates me to no end and I think people that save spots like this are bottom feeders.

    Posted by commonsenserules January 29, 09 06:57 PM
  1. "thy shall be punished." Well, not really. You might want to review the King James Version Ten Commandment Ten Commandments to see how to get this right. "Thou shalt..."

    Posted by Jonas Prang January 29, 09 08:36 PM
  1. If you clean it you should own it .Slashing tires is good enough for any body who parks there.

    Posted by Anonymous January 29, 09 09:14 PM
  1. I get it this blogger is very afraid of free speech and truth.Someone should remind him or her that there will never be change if we keep our tails between our legs.

    Posted by Anonymous January 29, 09 09:20 PM
  1. I would suggest the reader moves to Gaza.

    Charestown is similar, live there my whole life. Reserving a paking spot wasn't a problem everyone new each other and respected them that is until the yup's come moving in with their smug attitudes.

    I wouldn't personally do it, bad Kama - but at times it is certainly understandable.

    Posted by Frank January 29, 09 09:28 PM
  1. ONLY IN SOUTHIE!!!! How funny is this??? And we thought the toilet was a good one! Does Suz check her JD Staffing email? I think she'd get a kick out of it too!!! XO KEM

    Posted by John Daniel January 30, 09 12:05 AM
  1. Ha, same old article every year. Communist South Boston continually proves their Anti-American agenda.

    Posted by apathy January 30, 09 12:34 AM
  1. The city oughtta just fine people a good hefty amount for leaving crap to mark spots. Plow them away every time.

    And if that doesn't work, take away their driver's license for a few months.

    Seriously. This is disgusting. These are some seriously awful human beings. I don't care if they get beaten with bricks.

    Posted by Taco'sGhost January 30, 09 01:25 AM
  1. I grew up in Medford and the same ruled applied there as they do in Charlsetown and South Boston. If you shovel it, it's yours. We respected that and the few people that didn't, they were usually grad students from Tufts, only did it once.

    Posted by Anonymous January 30, 09 07:11 AM
  1. Why doesn't the city just plow the streets? Have alternative parking days as they do in the summer months. Other cities do this. This way, the issue is limited to a maximum of 7 days.

    Posted by Anonymous January 30, 09 07:25 AM
  1. If you are truly from Boston you know the rule. You clean it out it's yours - period end. It's the uppies that come in w/ gentrification that have an issue w/ this.

    Posted by Red January 30, 09 08:54 AM
  1. I go out late at night and move all the crap people leave to "save" their spots. Drives people bonkers. I laugh and laugh and laugh,

    Posted by youcan'tsavepublicparkingspots January 30, 09 09:20 AM
  1. What's fun is to just steal all the cones, chairs, cans, and other markers and then drive away with them, don't actually park there.
    And yes, it's a good laugh...

    Posted by Wizard January 30, 09 09:42 AM
  1. Living in Weston, I don't have this problem with a 4 car heated garage.

    Posted by Anonymous January 30, 09 10:03 AM
  1. I lived in Southie a long time...I never even thought about parking in a spot that I didn't bust my a** to shovel!
    It's a code of respect that people from there's the idiots who move in that think they're ENTITLED that don't get it, complain, and then pay the price.
    You want that parking spot?
    Then get out there and shovel it first!!!!!!

    Posted by givemeabreak January 30, 09 10:13 AM
  1. My wife (a Tufts student) and I live in Medford. We obey the law of the land, but this past month both my wife and our neighbor have had their spot taken (and our cone spot holders stolen) by locals. We are too forgiving to slash tires though.

    Posted by kp January 30, 09 10:47 AM
  1. I can understand if you shovel out a spot to park your car, but if you shovel your car out so you can drive somewhere, too bad as you left your spot. No one owns the parking spots!! Same as if you leave your spot in a line, you leave, so go back to the end of the line when you return!! Anyone caught slicing tires or damaging property should do some jail time, like 30 days, or go to anger management classes, 2 nights/ week for 6 months.

    Posted by ole black joe January 30, 09 10:58 AM
  1. I was born and raised in Southie (disclosure: I no longer live there) and I often wonder when I see these types of stories and read the responses:

    "Why aren't there stories in the paper about 'newcomers' to certain sections of Roxbury and Dorchester who are sick and tired of the drive-bys and murders that seem to be carried out by the 'locals' and 'natives' of that community and don't understand why the culture did not change because money and status has moved into the area?"

    If you think Elvis saving a parking spot is barbaric be thankful you didn't buy a condo in Savin Hill.

    Posted by RugBurn January 30, 09 11:17 AM
  1. The best parking space holder I ever saw was in Somerville about 10 years ago (well before everyone had a camera in their cell phone). Someone had dragged an old stationary bike into a cleaned parking spot. Hilarious!

    Posted by Anyone else sick of snow? January 30, 09 11:52 AM
  1. Maybe all the fat bastards in Southie should get rid of their cars and walk. Problem solved.

    Posted by Jay Dustin January 30, 09 12:10 PM
  1. Is the 48 hr "space saving" rule just for Southie or the entire city? I live in the Back Bay and never see any lawn chairs or cones to save a spot.

    Posted by backbaydog January 30, 09 12:39 PM
  1. Frank from "Charestown", just because people "know" how to spell and understand the actual law which says you can only save a spot for 48 hours after a storm, it doesn't make them smug "yup's". I hear ya on the "Kama" though, what goes around comes around.

    Posted by Literate January 30, 09 12:45 PM
  1. "Code of respect", "Yuppies" "entitlement"... please, shovel out a spot and park in there for as many days as you can...then get [out]... no one owns the street....if by the logic previously submitted, you shovel it and its yours .. than shovel your walks, and clean the trash around your property as well...
    I guess the projects don't have alot of parking.....go back to your cave and pretend you're in Ireland..

    Posted by vvvv January 30, 09 12:45 PM
  1. I just looked at the pictures and it appears that most of the people just drove their car out of the spot and then put something in it's place. I don't see many where someone has "busted their a**" to shovel out a spot. Just because you happen to be parked in a spot when the snow came down doesn't mean you own the street. Think about the people that are out of their homes when there's a snowstorm...nurses, EMT's, plow drivers, bartenders etc. I would cut them some slack if they need a parking space when they return home, but that's just me.

    Posted by emmaspop January 30, 09 01:23 PM
  1. RULE ONE......IF YOU SHOVEL IT......................YOU OWN IT .................

    Posted by Anonymous January 30, 09 01:25 PM
  1. "Code of respect", "Yuppies" "entitlement"... please, shovel out a spot and park in there for as many days as you can...then get [out]... no one owns the street....if by the logic previously submitted, you shovel it and its yours .. than shovel your walks, and clean the trash around your property as well...
    I guess the projects don't have alot of parking.....go back to your cave and pretend you're in Ireland" (Posted by WW)

    Haha... too funny... its a well known fact that people from southie are idiots, unless your from southie...

    hey, guess what fella's.. your not in Ireland, you didnt know whitey, and your motha's brotha's sista's friend wasnt in the Departed. In the real world, you drive an old caddy, and you work retail in the prudential, you probably have a really nice puffy coat, pink sidekick, and child support bills coming at you the same way french fries fly at Mayor Meninos face.

    I live in Somerville.. and yes, the part of Somerville, that can spell the name of the city.. and yes, the parking rule does apply. Slashing ties and scratching paint?? thats pretty weak considering you dont even own that beat old caddy that you proudly drive without insurance, blasting songs about money and girls, with the rear suspension completely blown out... its your grandma's and she wouldnt notice if someone keyed the paint... so why would you care?

    If you neighbors park in your marked spot, do what i did to one of my gracious neighbors, pour 10 gallons of water over all their tires on the coldest night possible. If you take your time, and let the water freeze up, their tires will look like giant ice cubes, sorta like the giant stones Fred Flintstone used to rock... pun intended. (If you drive a 98 Black Accord, im sorry, but it did eventually melt!!)

    Okay, i have to go back to work.. so i dont one day turn into a moron from Southie.

    Posted by soxfan12321 January 30, 09 01:35 PM
  1. Who ever ww is he or she should know that the whole city cant hold a candle to Ireland.I guess it,s killing you that the people of reland can pull their ownweight .They own homes and put their kids to college and gave mayors and presidents including our present presedent.I would know how to walk around with such envy.GET OVER IT.

    Posted by Anonymous January 30, 09 01:38 PM
  1. The neighborhood streets in Chicago are much more colorful after a snowfall. If you shovel it, it is yours. "Code of respect", "Yuppies" "entitlement"... I think not. I saw this before the term "yuppy" was coined. This is/was strickly a manuver in the ethnic neighborhoods. I never saw the practice in the suburbs.

    Posted by Igor January 30, 09 02:00 PM
  1. I remember thinking how neanderthal saving spots was...lived in Charlestown, then Brighton. Then one night after digging out our car so my wife could go to an emergency care visit, some clown took our spot. I followed his footsteps to his house, two doors down, and rang his bell. I wanted to explain that my wife was coming home soon, and I had just dug her out so she could leave for the emergency call. He refused to answer the door...just so happens our cats litter box needed to be emptied, and he forgot to lock his car doors in his haste to vacate the scene. I found it easy to dump the box in the shotgun seat. He was welcome to come discuss.

    Posted by golden rule January 30, 09 02:01 PM
  1. The code is crap. I've shoveled out plenty of spots, saved them with whatever I had, only to find some local took my spot even though I followed his/her rule. Their code only works if you are actually from Southie, otherwise, you're an outsider they will do anything to alienate and pester to no end. I hated living there and couldn't wait to move out. I say plow up all their crap and make them live like civilized human beings.

    Posted by the_code_is_a_crock January 30, 09 02:06 PM
  1. Local is as local does....these Boston lifers were raised to keep their mouths shut and protect their parking spots. It's mindblowing how primitive minded these locals are. They fly in the face of progress, change the rules only when it benefits them, and resort to violence and property damange when they feel they've been wronger or outed. Its a "bad penny" cycle that will remain until law enforcement and local government steps in to punish and at best "ban" the "space saver rule". If everyone just shoveled the sides ways, and everyone piled the snow neatly on the edge of the sidewalk, and participate in just being a citizen, humane and not point fingers and make excuses for the way the are, then this city during inclement weather times would be more manageable and tolerable.

    Posted by local_is_as_local_does January 30, 09 02:26 PM
  1. This is such BS. I'm sorry people, but as others have stated, parking spots on the street are public space. If you want to cry about it, do so at a bank when you're taking money out to pay for your own private off street spot. Or move to the suburbs. Bunch of low life scumbags.

    Posted by mc January 30, 09 02:30 PM
  1. Same code applied in the neighborhood where my wife and I used to live here in Baltimore. The guy across the street from us was the Cone King - he lived only to eat, breathe, and get a parking spot in front of his rowhouse. In summer, he used to make his stepdaughter sit on his front steps (while he sat inside watching tv) and wait for a spot to open up, so he could move his car as close as possible. After a snowstorm, he'd shovel out a spot, then leave the cones up till around Memorial Day. I guess he had Parking OCD or something...

    Posted by Arty Hill January 30, 09 02:43 PM
  1. Long time Southie resident. Understand both side of this argument, however, Agree with response "why doesn't the city simply keep the Every Thursday st cleaning and plow on those dates" cost $45 and a tow to sweep sand, yet snow falls people don't shovel, shovel poorly or they build their little snow parking spots some leave their cars untouched, and snow continues to pile around them, Emergency vehicles have trouble getting down streets, and NO ONE is towed, or even ticketed. Odd you get in the way of sand removel and your vehicle is towed, but cause conjestion act selfishly and your good to go, you can even mark the spot as yours, freaking backwards! and every year it stays the same! woohoo
    we call ourselve neighbors???? too freaking funny.
    you want to own a space by a home with a driveway, streets are public access

    Posted by not a yuppie January 30, 09 02:45 PM
  1. I read through the comments and need to add my own. My wife and I have always lived in South Boston and everyone knows that if you shovel the spot, it's yours. It's not rocket science so just go with the flow. People get mad because they want a spot in front of their house and didn't get it. Most people don't abuse it and only keep it until spots open up. Second, the best spot saver I have seen was an old washing machine. Too heavy to move so he can keep the spot. Lastly, don't believe everything you see on the news or in the movies. South Boston has a hard side, just like most cities and towns, but there are a lot of very well educated people too.

    Posted by Longtimeresident January 30, 09 03:21 PM
  1. Southie is an interesting beast. As odd as the parking wars are, what is every old southie resident's problem with putting dog waste in other people's garbage cans, even on garbage pick-up day? They are garbage cans, no? Would they rather seen it strewn about the streets? Given the amount of dog waste I see on the sidewalks, I guess I have the answer to my question. The lifers here are by far some of the most idiosyncratic people I've observed, even after living in several cities.

    Posted by I guess I'm a yuppie? January 30, 09 03:47 PM
  1. I live on Cape Cod now so no worries about parking.I grew up in Dorchester and
    know the rules.We respected the work it took to dig out a spot.

    Posted by jmsos January 30, 09 03:54 PM
  1. This is ridiculous behavior and terribly uncivilized. If you don't want to shovel, get a spot in a garage or don't own a car or get yourself a property with a driveway. If you shovel it, guess what... it is still not yours. Only a person with a minimally functioning brain would have the logic that it "belongs" to them after shoveling it. Damaging someone else's property as vengeance for someone parking in "your spot"? Please. It's no wonder someone doesn't park in someone's "saved spot" on purpose and watch their car in the middle of the night to find the mongoloids that slash the tires and break their necks.

    That being said, it really is fun going through their neighborhoods and grabbing all of their chairs and cones!!!

    Posted by CJT65 January 30, 09 04:16 PM
  1. It's the code of white trash. Remove all that junk the moment you see it. Saving a space on a public street? Fuhgetaboutit!!!!!!!!!!!

    Posted by Southie Born January 30, 09 04:19 PM
  1. I used to live in South Boston and had my share of parking spots taken after I shoveled them out. I admit I was a bit upset but never did I assume the spot was mine once i left it. I realize there are people who have lived there their entire lives and this is the "code" so I never messed with it. I never even contemplated taking a space that someone had shoveled out and saved with a cone or something else. It is true though that a lot of people would keep these cones and other items there at the mere mention of snow or much long after the snow had disappeared! Once the snow is gone - I think the cones should go too, that's only fair.

    Posted by Pat January 30, 09 04:20 PM
  1. wow...uuuhhh, wow...this has got to be one of the most nutso city-wide disputes i have ever heard of...i grew up in boston - 25 years - and this is the EXACT type of [expletive deleted] i moved for. i now live in San Fran (been here 3 years) and am 1000 times happier. weather's much better (forget snow - barely breaks 50 deg), people are much NICER - dudes AND CHICKS - i always found broads in beantown to be crazy stuck up - , I mean, this simply WOULD NOT HAPPEN in san fran. people are not friggin [expletive deleted] like all you "space savers" - whether you feel warranted or not.
    Although I *somewhat* agree with the whole "i shoveled it out, i deserve to save it" argument, what many said to refute this (sorry "true bostonians"), is THE PLAIN OLD FLAT OUT TRUTH!!!!!!!!!!!!! It doesn't take a genius to figure that out. The bottom line is that NO ONE OWNS A SPOT, THE STREET, ETC.!!!!! It just comes down to friggin [expletive deleted] in the bean who trash a car b/c their POOR, LITTLE SPOT WAS TAKEN. OH BOO-WHOO!!!! GET OVER IT AND ABIDE BY THE LAW. And for those who cry about it, so true, GET THE HELL OUT, THEN. Like i did. In classic Bill Simmons style, "EFFFFFFF" BEANTOWN!!! Just b/c it's home & I grew up there, doesn't mean i like it as a city - or you have to either.

    Posted by BeantownSPORTSloverONLY January 30, 09 04:23 PM
  1. This is part of what makes Southie charming, not watered down like many other parts of Boston. Seriously, if you busted your back to shovel and some loser stole a spot you just spent an hour shoveling how would you feel??? You're lying if you say you would be OK with it...If it's that big of a deal, then move to Weston with [a] four car heated garage.

    Posted by B January 30, 09 04:25 PM
  1. everyone in Southie who save sa spot needs to grow up and get a life. you don't own the street, if you did, then the spot you saved would be yours all year long, but it isn't, so shut up, and shovel and be on your way. you don't see people saving spots downtown when you drive to work, if you did, then you would have nowhere to pahk

    Posted by say hi to your mother for me January 30, 09 04:25 PM
  1. elvis looks pale. give him a drink !

    Posted by lala January 30, 09 05:21 PM
  1. I live in Roxbury, and we also do the space saver thing. Usually people respect them, but sometimes markers get moved. The problem with slashing peoples' tires is unless you were watching out the window the whole day, you really don't know who moved a marker.

    Posted by Bob January 30, 09 05:39 PM
  1. I move the cones and other space savers when I walk by.

    Posted by john January 30, 09 07:14 PM
  1. People who use space savers are scumbags. They don't own the property, the city does. And putting all this junk on the streets only lowers the property values. They're no better than drug users taking over a neighborhood and lowering property values. And even though Mayor Mumbles has ridiculously okayed it, it's still only legal for 48 hrs after a snow emergency, not just a snow storm. And we haven't had a snow emergency in over a month. Space savers are low lifes and on the lowest rung of society, thinking they're entitled to something they don't own.

    Posted by Jeff from Boston January 31, 09 11:14 AM
  1. I was so hoping that Southie would have been totally gentrified by now. When are they going to get out, the morons who can take their parking spots with them?

    Posted by reindeergirl January 31, 09 06:31 PM
  1. I love the posts from the people who actually take the markers and drive away. It reminds me of that HG show where the 2 brothers pull up to a house on trashday, throw a discarded piece of furniture in their pickup and then covertly return it all jazzed up.
    But seriously, how hard is it to shovel out a spot. I live in a single family in Boston and shovel the end of my driveway and and my car space out front( both cars don't fit in the dreveway) as well a walkway, stairs and sidewalk. Last storm -20 minutes total . (I'm 44) I guess under their code, I should put markers every 6 feet or so. Light bulb thought. How about we allow all the people who work "so hard" to shovel out20 feet of spacetimes 2 feet.

    Posted by Anonymous February 1, 09 07:37 AM
  1. I've NEVER watched anyone digging a spot in the city to get into ! So it's like a vigilantly type lottery ..... You get a spot by luck dig yourself OUT and it's YOURS for the rest of the winter...... Thank GOD for the Maya Ofb Bostobm YA MUMBLES YOUR DOING G R E A T ...The Hub of the universe indeed....... JUST THINK OF MUUMMBLES REPRESNTIN .................. To Whom ???? Wait Wait i gotta break into a RAP...............

    Posted by Rod Mac Donald February 1, 09 11:28 AM
  1. If you shovel out a spot, does it make it yours until spring? I live in Somerville and parking can be a pain year round. There is a neighbor who will shovel out his spot, save it with a trash can and then proceed to take up two parking spots. If it snows again this week and a snow emergency is called, I will not hesitate to ring his bell and tell him to move his car, so other tax paying citizens can park on a city owned street.

    Posted by Suzanne February 1, 09 12:33 PM
  1. Seems like alot of folks are envious of Southie....for good reason....

    Posted by SouthieTradition February 1, 09 03:01 PM
  1. I have lived in South Boston for 14 years ,over the years I have gotten sick of the whole parking spot thing .I bought my own parking spot a few years back and I paid $38000 for it .It was one of the best investments I have ever maid ,I love it !!,and it has added a lot of value to my house .I can rent it any time for $300 pm ,people beg me for it .Oh an I am not a yuppie ,I am a humble waiter that works very hard each day for everything he earns, doing a job that a lot of other people would never do

    Posted by tom February 1, 09 11:32 PM
  1. What I think needs to happen is for EVERYONE to shovel out their cars within 48 hours of a snow storm, or get ticketed. The problem is with the morons who leave their cars buried under a snow pile for weeks at a time out of complete laziness, yet that same person will trek through icy streets and snowbanks to get to the Beer Garden. You "people" who say you've lived in Southie for years should be used to shoveling snow. Is it really that difficult? If you shoveled a pint of snow for every pint of Guinness you drink, there'd be no need to trash the streets with cones, Elvis statues, or stationary bikes. So put down your pint, throw on the scally, and work off that corned beef and cabbage you just rifled down. Whether you paid a half million for a condo, or you rent, unless you paid for that spot, you do not own it. Here's a question...What if I were to shovel out someone else's car, which happened to be parked in front of my apartment, waited for them to leave, and then took that spot?

    Posted by NCTarheel February 2, 09 01:14 PM
  1. I'm with the people that steal the coolers, chairs and the like. Hey I have no problem making money on ebay with stuff people leave at bay on public property that I pay taxes for. People save spots they don't even shovle out and they save spots when a flake falls on the ground so don't give me the crap that it's a code. When you talk about entitlement, look up the definition because the way I see it, people in southie that think they are entitled to a spot are the ones that havea poor sense of entitlement. At least the Yuppies work for a living and don't drain other tax payers and hike up taxes for the trucks that have to go around and clean up this insane rubbish.

    Posted by Yours Truly February 4, 09 09:49 AM

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Clifford Atiyeh is an automotive writer and car enthusiast . He has spent his entire life driving cars he doesn't own.
In the garage: 1995 21-speed Iron Horse, 2002 Jeep Wrangler X (by association)
Bill Griffith is a veteran Boston Globe reporter, having reviewed cars for more than 10 years and serving as assistant sports editor for 25 years. He was also the paper's sports media columnist.
In the garage: 2006 Subaru Baja
AAA's Car Doctor, John Paul John Paul is public affairs manager for AAA Southern New England, a certified mechanic, and a Globe columnist. He hosts a weekly radio show on WROL.
In the garage: Hyundai Sante Fe, Chrysler PT Cruiser convertible
Craig Fitzgerald has been writing about cars, motorcycles, and the automotive industry since 1999. He is the former editor of Hemmings Sports & Exotic Car.
In the garage: 1968 Buick Riviera, 1996 Buick Roadmaster, 1974 Honda CB450
Keith Griffin is president of the New England Motor Press Association and edits the used car section on He also writes for the Hartford Business Journal and various weekly newspapers in Connecticut.
In the garage: Mazda 5, Dodge Neon
George Kennedy is a senior writer for WheelsTV in Acton, which produces video reviews for Yahoo, MSN, and other auto websites.
In the garage: Lifted 1999 Jeep Cherokee
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