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September 10, 1998: The Year in Review

Tensions build as Aztec presence grows

ALLSTON — The Boston area has seen a dramatic rise in its Aztec population recently, hightening racial tensions in many neighborhoods. The Aztecs’ growing influence has some Hub residents derisively calling Boston an "Aztec empire."

The changes have certainly been striking. In Roxbury, once a Catholic mainstay, most of the churches have become temples to the plumed serpent Quetzalcoatl, the god of wind and learning. And local schoolchildren are giving up kickball for tlatchtli, a kickball-like game played to the death.

Particularly irksome for many Bostonians is the Aztecs’ new thousand-foot pyramid, constructed in Allston on the banks of the Charles. The pyramid is both a temple to the sun god Huitzilopochtli and an upscale shopping mall, a combination that has some local retailers crying foul.

"We sell earthen housewares, they sell earthen housewares, but because they’re also a temple, they’re tax-exempt," complains Jeff Jurgensen, manager of Cambridge’s Pottery Barn store. "It makes it tough to compete, especially since they’ll also accept feathers, salt, and pieces of tin as currency."

Area restaurants are also feeling the pinch. The pyramid’s food court has been a surprise success, featuring such Aztec eateries as "Quetzal Time" and "Boston Chicken Itza."

The first Aztecs arrived in the Boston area about a year ago, migrating north from Aztlan, their historical home in western Mexico. According to Cuauhtemoc, the Aztecs’ leader, the gods told them that they would come upon an eagle sitting on a cactus eating a snake, at which point they should stop and found a great city.

"That was all well and good until about Delaware," recalls Cuauhtemoc. "After that we started to loosen our interpretation, if you know what I mean. When we got to Allston we saw a pigeon up on a powerline, and the pigeon looked like it had something in its beak. I figured, that’s good enough for rock and roll."

"Between you and me, I think the beak was just deformed from all that voltage," added Cuauhtemoc. "You’ve got to understand — we were really fucking tired."

Now, with the Aztecs’ numbers rising and their conquests building, many Boston natives fear that the local culture will be permanently altered.

"It’s not fair that they come here and take our jobs," said Jane Mayer, a Lexington hunter-gatherer whose office building was razed to the ground to make room for the Aztecs’ maize fields. "It’s almost as if our nomadic way of life is being displaced by the powerful Aztec civilization."

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