Friday, December 24, 2004

Here is a picture of the Tre Bon Nouvel, the ship built by my father, burning last week. This picture was taken by some folks at the scene and was published in this week's edition of the Upper Keys Reporter. Here is an updated story: ["Family loses boat a week before Christmas"].

Saturday, December 18, 2004

A family tragedy:

Dear friends,

I am sorry to be asking for your support tonight.
On Thursday night, my father, his wife, and five of their children, lost their home [a live aboard ship] due to a fire. Thankfully, everyone got off alive before the entire ship was engulfed in propane tank explosions and flames. A story from the Upper Keys Reporter is linked here: ["Missionary family loses everything in boat fire"]. I have also posted a couple of articles published about my dad when he was building the ship below.
The cause of the fire is not known at this time but the devastating effect of its damage is: Essentially, my family lost everything. Also, the ship was not insured.
They have lived in the Keys and southern Florida for the better part of 25 years and have done so much for so many over the years. Fortunately, they have a lot of friends and support. A local TV station set up a benefit fund for them and one of the churches and a radio station will be holding an event to raise money for them. They also have a place to crash until they manage to get enough money together to rent an apartment.

I know that times are tough for everyone right now. But if you have some extra funds that you can throw in the mail to the fund to help them get through this extremely rough period, I would be eternally grateful. The fund address is below:

Schinella Family Benefit
c/o First State Bank
171433 Overseas Highway
Key Largo, Fla. 33037

Thank you for your generosity and please keep my family in your prayers. Have a great holiday.

Here is an article from a paper in the Keys.

This article appeared in the Miami Herald in 1994.

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

Let the Sex Pistols in: The Rock 'n Roll Hall of Fame announced the names of new inductees yesterday. U2, the Pretenders, Buddy Guy, The O'Jays, and Sire Records co-founder Seymour Stein were all named. One-hit wonder Percy ["When a man loves a woman"] Sledge was also named.
But, yet again, the Sex Pistols - and others, like Lynyrd Skynyrd, Grandmaster Flash & the Furious Five, The Stooges [Iggy Pop's first band], and Patti Smith - were not named.
Okay, now this is getting a bit ridiculous. Who is more influential and worthy of nomination - Percy Sledge or the Sex Pistols? Sledge or Skynyrd? Come on. This is a no-brainer. The Sex Pistols have influenced thousands of bands over the years. Percy Sledge's one hit has been included on a handful of baby boomer soundtracks like "The Big Chill." Snooze. Who is more worthy? Sledge's "When ..." is a great song. But what about Skynyrd? "Free Bird!" has been called for from every stage in America. And on impact, can Sledge compare to the imprint the Pistols made on "rock and roll"? It is no contest. You could even make the case that Johnny Rotten/Lydon is more worthy by himself than Sledge because he was involved in two very influential rock bands - the Pistols and Public Image Limited. PIL, as the band was known, had two pretty amazing albums - "Second Edition" and "The Flowers of Romance." I wouldn't consider the first album, "This is what you want ..." or the bootleg album as "great," but they should be considered very good.
FMQB reported that the Pistols have "have not exactly spoken highly of the Hall in the past" with MTV reporting that Rotten once called the museum the place where "old rockers go to die." But who cares about that crap. Stop being a bunch of pompous rock snobs - put the Pistols in the Hall already.

Wednesday, December 8, 2004

Bruds: WBZ talk show host David Brudnoy is near death, according to numerous reports, and probably will not survive the week. Bruds acknowledged he had AIDS in 1994 but managed to cheat certain death and enjoy the last decade thanks to the age of modern medicine. Last year, he was stricken with Merkel cell carcinoma and, unfortunately, it is winning. WBZ has a gut-wrenching interview with Bruds from his deathbed as well as posts from well-wishers and listeners here: ["For David... Our thoughts are with you"].
There was some confusion about whether or not David had already died from a bad TV report or something, which I mistakenly passed on to some folks. Sorry about that.
Dan Kennedy has a post here about the situation: ["The David Brudnoy Era"]. I have to disagree with him slightly that Bruds was "the best radio talk-show host in the history of the city, if not the country." I would give that nod to Jerry Williams, who practically created the format and was on the air here in Boston forever until his death a couple of years ago. But, to label a "best host" and then argue about it is like having an argument over who the better homerun hitter was: Hank Aaron or Babe Ruth? Bruds and Jerry were giants in the field and irreplaceable. They commanded the respect and attention of everyone. And, they created/will create a massive vacuum when they left/will leave the airwaves.
Over the years, David and I have had our scuffles both on the air and off. But I have always enjoyed his camaraderie and intellectual discussions.
Goodbye, David. Thanks for all that you gave the format of radio ... and us.

Update: Brudnoy passed away on Thursday. Such a tragedy. The news made national headlines and was covered heavily on local TV. Such sadness. We'll miss you David.

Wednesday, December 1, 2004

A quick goodbye to Winchester - thank you all for everything

In all the years that I have been writing, this is probably one of the hardest columns I've ever had to put together. Next week will be my last one editing The Winchester Star. I have decided to go back into the radio field and will continue my community journalism career in a city closer to my new home.
The decision to leave The Star was a difficult one but made all the easier after the birth of our first child in August. Starting a family was something I put off to the very last minute, preferring to dabble in music, politics and media. But one of the things I always promised myself was that when I did have children, their needs would be put first to the best of my ability. By "needs," I didn't necessarily mean possessions. I promised myself that I would not be one of those fathers who was never around. What would be the point? I didn't wait all these years to have kids so that I could spend my entire life at work, even if I do enjoy it. While there will always be a story to chase on deadline, this change will allow me more flexibility and more time with my beautiful son and supportive wife.
I hope readers understand that this is a personal choice. This decision is what is best and just one of many, as we measure what is truly most important in our lives.
With that said, there are so many people to thank and I know I will miss a few.
Professionally, I want to thank all the remarkable people I have worked with here at CNC, including two great reporters: Christopher Rocchio and Kristina Arvanitis. Thank you all for your camaraderie and friendship.
In Winchester, I would like to thank everyone who contacted me with story ideas, congratulations, praise, and criticism. Thank you for letting us into your homes and interesting lives to tell your stories.
One of the things I love about this town is that there are so many straight-shooters. You always know where Ellen Burkhardt, Fire Union president John Frongillo, Peter Haley, Superintendent Jim Marini, Selectman Chuck Nurnberger, and state Sen. Charlie Shannon stand on any issue. Thanks for being there.
Thanks to all the regular contributors: Mary Courville, Lynn Engle [and her husband Wayne], Lauren Field, Walter Finneran [keep smiling], Hope-Valerie Pashos, and so many others who helped to make The Star better than it would have been without you.
Thank you Bob Baughman and Annette Farrington for your long-time friendship as we worked together in the music and political worlds.
A quick "good luck" to problem solvers like Roger Berman, Paul Collins, and other FinCom folks; Maureen Meister, Charles Smith, Sam Stroud, and other planning, engineering, and historical hawks; and others like Fran Sabatino and the West End Neighborhood Association; everyone at WinCAM, the Jenks Center, the library, and recreation department; and all the employees at BookEnds and The News Shop.
And thank you also to Katherine Allen, Eva Arnott, Chris and Elena Benoit, Debbie Catalano, Tony Conte, Cheryl Eagan-Donovan, Patrick Fortin, David Frenkel, Robert Guarente, Selectman Tom Howley, Kathryn Hughes, Carolyn Latanision, John Natale, Michele Nathan, Andrea Phelan, Mary Pronski, Marcia Saltmarsh, Michael Schindelman, Peggy Schleicher, Dan Sheridan, Pam Swartzel, Margaret Sullivan, Kim Whittaker, and so many others for good conversations and contributions to the paper.
Last, but certainly not least, I would like to thank Laurie Russell of the Winchester Community Music School, the first person in town who invited me into her world. I'm sorry I never got a chance to peruse the huge record library at your school but maybe someday.
Regrets? Yeah, I've had a few: Not being able to get to the bottom of the Winning Farm mess and not working harder to expose the town's business, records and meetings to the public. There is so much you should know that you don't.
In some ways though, people get the town they deserve if they stand on the sidelines and allow their elected officials to lead in a vacuum. Participatory democracy is only healthy and strong when the people are involved and when the press is investigating and not hamstrung. I think we have done our part to the best of our ability. Now, it's your turn. Run for one of those town seats that go unchallenged year after year. Run for Town Meeting - the last bastion of historical democracy - which languishes and never reaches its full potential in Winchester despite the efforts by some. It isn't meant to rubber-stamp - it is meant to inform, debate, challenge, and amend. That is what the founders intended.
Lastly, please remember this: Despite what anyone says or writes, it is not a personal attack to criticize or dissent. Residents should be able to disagree with their leaders [and other residents] but still sit down with them after the fight and have a beer. That is the essence of a town that is truly a community.
Alright, one more bowl of lasagna and Chianti at Lucia's, a swing around to the drop boxes and we'll call it a night. Maybe I will see you all again sometime in the future.
Until then ... Best, Tony.