Donnie Wahlberg wants you to know he’s not a Southie — he’s actually a Dorchester. Or at least he would be, if that’s what the locals called themselves.
Calling one "A Southie" is akin to calling one "A Palo Alto". Wahlberg's aren't from Southie. We love Southie, our late fathers last residence was in Southie (rest his soul), but we're from Dorchester. Which doesn't make us Dorchesters. Hope this helps.— Donnie Wahlberg (@DonnieWahlberg) November 29, 2017
Writers from distant cities continue to refer to residents of South Boston by its nickname, as if people are usually called the same thing that they call their hometown.
Imagine referring to a New York resident as “a Bronx” or “a Hell’s Kitchen.”
Sharp-eyed readers need go no further than the headline of an article posted online Tuesday by the Mercury News of San Jose, Calif., to feel the sting: “Wahlburgers in Palo Alto: How to eat like a Southie,” the bold type declares. It’s the very headline that prompted Donnie Wahlberg to weigh in on the issue.
The writer, Linda Zavoral, uses “Southie” as a demonym in the piece, and the indignities for Bostonians don’t stop there.
The article cites the roots of restaurateur brothers Donnie, Mark, and Paul Wahlberg “in working-class Dorchester, south of Boston” — when Dorchester, of course, is actually Boston’s largest neighborhood, ever since it was annexed in 1870.
And a photo caption showing a particularly gooey three-patty burger reads as follows: “Wahlburgers’ Triple Decker is named not for the three brothers but for the house they grew up in,” which at best comes off a bit silly to anyone who knows that the triple-decker is a type of multifamily housing that’s ubiquitous throughout Boston.
The Globe has reached out to Zavoral to request a response.
The article caught the eyes of some locals, who responded with a range of reactions from amusement to frustration:
Native Bostonian here: ?A Southie? is not a term and Whalbergs aren?t from Southie, from Dorchester. A completely different neighborhood.— Joseph Robillard (@Joebillard85) November 28, 2017
Nobody from Southie, Boston or new England says "like a Southie". Also, the Wahlburgers are from Dorchester.— South Boston GOP (@SouthieGOP) November 28, 2017
Wahlburgers made it California before coming back to Dorchester, but never fear, it's coming to South Bay! You'll be able to eat like a Southie, without ever leaving The Chest.https://t.co/k4vWe8E7ab— welcome to dot (@WelcomeToDot) November 28, 2017
The misuse of “Southie” to identify people previously popped up back in April, in an otherwise intelligent New York Times profile of celebrity chef Barbara Lynch, a proud South Boston native who was misidentified in the story as “a fierce Southie.”
After an online outcry from the kinds of loyal locals no one would want to make angry, and the insistence of Lynch herself that, “I didn’t use the term,” the Times backtracked and changed the line to “a fierce daughter of Southie” (emphasis added).
That gaffe inevitably reminded some readers of incidents during the 2013 trial of James “Whitey” Bulger, when both the Times and the Associated Press called South Boston “SoBo,” a name likely to set any longtime resident’s teeth on edge.
Locals, beware: The Mercury News article notes that this is the first Wahlburgers outpost in California, but three more are planned for the coming months.
Each will create fresh opportunities for food writers to drop their R’s, sprinkle their prose with random “wickeds,” and basically channel the worst actor in any stereotypical Boston movie.
How do you like them apples?Jeremy C. Fox can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @jeremycfox.