Leading the charge on "Billy Ruane Square" is the Middle East and music journalist and historian Brian Coleman, who earlier this year compiled more than 3,000 signatures (roughly 500 online and more than 2,800 physical endorsements) to support the cause and get the measure in front of Cambridge officials. As the square targets a 2018 dedication, the comments, nearly 200 of them, on the online petition served as a reminder of who Ruane truly was, and the effect he had on people.
With Coleman's permission, we published those comments below, and asked him if he was surprised by the reaction.
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“I honestly wasn’t that surprised, because Billy touched a nerve with so many people, almost always in the best way,” Coleman tells us. “You just couldn’t meet him without an impression being made. Just walking around Central Square these days isn’t as fun, because you know Billy won’t come screaming by on his scooter, almost run you over, and make you promise to go to a show. Having that as a possibility always made it more fun in to anywhere in Cambridge. I know a lot of people would agree with that.”
We also asked him where Ruane would be hanging around town if he were alive today.
“I would love to know what other people think,” he adds. “I think he would love that the Lily Pad is doing more indie rock shows, he would be there often. I think he would be a big supporter of what Deep Thoughts is doing in JP. I think he would have been heartbroken that T.T.’s closed, but also that he would have approved of what Sonia has become. All in all, I think he would like what Central Square has become, aside from some of the new high-rises down towards MIT.”
Of course, by publishing the comments, we’re certainly not reinventing the wheel here — in October 2010, at the time of Ruane’s death, this Boston Phoenix article by Carly Carioli compiled commentary from Gerard Cosloy, Steve Albini, Sasha Frere-Jones, Rob Sheffield, Bill Janovitz, and others, while this Boston Globe piece by James Reed collected thoughts from Peter Wolf, Joyce Linehan, Billy Beard, Clint Conley and others.
But the comments above in the slider are fresh takes, drafted with his loss in mind, and the void his passing created over the past few years. Seven years ago, they said Boston wouldn’t be the same without him, and they were correct.
Happy birthday, Billy Ruane.
Featured photo of Billy Ruane at Bunrattys by Mark Morelli, via the David Bieber Archives. It is currently on display at The Verb Hotel in Boston.