Life in the Ville by Jimmy Del Ponte
(The opinions and views expressed in the commentaries of The Somerville Times belong solely to the authors of those commentaries and do not reflect the views or opinions of The Somerville Times, its staff or publishers)
A couple of years ago I changed the name of my column from On the Silly Side to Life in the Ville. “Ville” is just a simple abbreviation for Somerville. A Villen (according to the new pop culture) is someone from Somerville. This Villen thing has calmed down lately, but when it first hit it was all the rage. Everybody wanted a Villen sticker or a Villen shirt or hat. The Villen Cooperative Society came out as the source for these items. They even copyrighted the word “Villen.” Really? Isn’t that like trying to copyright the word “Townie,” or “West Ender”? Nevertheless, the terms Ville and Villen are now a part of Somerville’s fabric, even though some old-time Somerville loyalists don’t like it. As one young lady stated to me, “The Ville is better than what they used to call Somerville.” (I refuse to even write that derogatory word because it burns me up to no end. But if you want to know what it is, check out Somerville, Mass., in Wikipedia.) While we are on the subject, I think we should petition Wikipedia to have that horrible slang term removed.
A lot of people who don’t like the new nicknames feel that Villen makes us sound like thugs. Well, I can assure you that I am not a thug and neither are most of my friends! Somerville has a very colorful past. That’s true, but we have moved onto many exciting changes and innovations that have made Somerville a very desirable place to live, work, play and raise a family (as the mayor says!). Just look at what they did to Assembly Square! And what about the Green Line Extension? Somerville is on the move in a very positive way.
Some longtime Somerville people don’t like any kind of change at all, no matter what it is. That’s understandable. They have earned the right to be cranky about change. But it’s the younger generation who are setting the pace for the excitement of the future. I want to stay on their good side because these are the people who will eventually pick the care I will receive when that time comes. I love thinking and acting young and with the times, so I am proud to be a Villen from the Ville (Hey, that sounds like it could be a cool song!).
There are lots of kids at Somerville High School with Villen stickers on their books, iPods and cellphones. You can still get some stickers visiting The Villen Cooperative Society website. I happen to have hoarded a bunch over the years. I have stuck them on my trailer, my truck, the clock at work, even on the door to my house. I even wrote a musical called “Back in The Ville” five years ago, which was performed by Somerville’s Project STAR. As a matter of fact, The Sunsetters will be including the title song this summer as they hit the streets singing.
The words Ville and Villen are just amusing terms that some of us like to use. It means no disrespect. Anyone who uses these terms is very proud to be from Somerville.