Saturday, November 22, 2008


The cow is giving kerosene,
Kids can't read at seventeen,
The words he knows are all obscene,
But it's all right.
I will get by. I will get by. I will get by.
I will survive.

So wrote my all-time favorite songwriter Robert Hunter, for my all-time favorite band, the Grateful Dead. The song – A Touch of Grey – doesn't perfectly echo my inner feelings about what's transpiring around us, but it's appropriate.

I present it to you alongside the knowledge that The Herald, unless it's sold by our parent corporation, the Journal Register Company, will cease operation on Jan. 12. The same fate awaits The Bristol Press and many of the weeklies surrounding Hartford that have been disseminating our local news.

The Herald and The Press, two grand old ladies who have walked hand-in-hand with people west of Hartford for 130 or so years, have been given their last rites. Unless another company with deep pockets and foresight can interpret that their legacy should live on, important voices will be silenced.

Why the demise? It's heartbreaking for me to say this but our world has become one of instant gratification. People want to know right away and they want it delivered in a short sentence or two. Flashes on the internet or television suffice. Hmmm, is this why text messaging has become so popular? People using their thumbs to tap out abbreviated words that convey instant messages, never taking the time to learn how to read, never taking the time to learn how to spell.

That's their life, and I'm sure they'll be the worse for it. That’s only one reason. There are others. But regardless of why, New Britain and Bristol will surely be the worse for not having detailed local news at their fingertips, even if it isn't carried by an electronic messenger in broken phrases and doesn't reach you in a moment's notice.

We have witnessed how the latent, pernicious human trait of greed has permeated our society, greater than any society in the past. We've seen how the soulless Satans who run the Enrons of the world put their own excesses ahead of the hard-working couple trying desperately to finance their golden years. We've watched helplessly as board-room greed has invaded the once unfettered world of sports. Greed mongers, who have reached their sinister fingers into our pockets in trying to pluck our last nickel, have even pirated our games of leisure.

They will all suffer for their sins. I hope we survive long enough to run their obituaries.

If indeed this is the end, I want to tell you how exciting and satisfying it has been to serve you at both of these newspapers since 1991 – to inform you in what I hope was an entertaining manner. I truly hope that I become blessed with another forum in which to do so until these fingers can no longer slide across the keyboard and this mind can no longer describe and interpret what these eyes see.

Some will say that’s already happened, but I digress.

I thank you for inviting me into your homes, allowing me to stimulate your thought, permitting me access to your wonderful children, many of whom have gone on to make all of us proud and our world a better place. Let us pray that our newspapers are not silenced. For the good of everybody who lives from Terryville to Rocky Hill, from Windsor Locks to Southington, that the original mission of our newspapers survive.

Sunday, November 2, 2008


Okay, okay. I keep hearing from computer-savvy colleagues and friends that I just don't get it about blogging. I'll admit it. I don't get it. I write columns instead of blogs, tales from the crypt like the ones that grissled veterans of the written word produced for papers when I was young.

It figures because I'm stuck in the past. I'll admit that, too. I listen to the music of my youth -- the Grateful Dead, Beatles, Stones, Dylan, Tull, CSN & Y. I prefer the films of Hollywood's Golden Era, which means I only stop on movies that are black and white -- your grandparents may remember the stars -- Cagney, Errol Flynn, Tyrone Power, Spencer Tracy, Clark Gable.

I can't begin to comprehend the value of rap music, hip hop or contemporary rock. They sing of hate. We always preferred songs of love. I don't want to see special effects. I want to see great acting and well-written stories (although Charlie Wilson's War was cool. Friday Night Lights and We Are Marshall, too.).

I read books about baseball in the 19th Century (that's the 1800s). For those who would like to know, I'm currently reading "Rothstein," a book about Arnold Rothstein, a powerful NYC gambler who fixed the 1919 World Series that evolved into the Black Sox Scandal.

My favorite places: The Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y; Sturbridge Village; Plimouth Plantation; the Basketball Hall of Fame; the Pro Football Hall of Fame. You could have guessed that.

I'll admit it, I'm damned proud of it and I'm not going to change. I'm a stick-in-the-mud, but the mud can be cool on a hot day. I'm Living in the Past (Jethro Tull, 1971). I'm a fuddy-duddy. I'm trying to re-live a misspent youth. Guilty, on all counts.

Let's see, what do I see when I read the legitmate blogs that proliferate on the internet?

Some writers enjoy predicting the outcome of games. Sorry, I don't get a kick out of that. I don't go in for gambling and don't profess to be the world's greatest prognisticator or sports savant. I don't look at how many points a team's getting before the game so I obviously don't care. I love the games in their purest forms, even hockey.

What I know best are state high school sports (fall and winter only) and the Rock Cats. That's what I've covered for the last 12 years. Those of the areas I research and follow. Those are the sports scenes I feel most comfortable and knowledgeable writing about.

I don't believe in publicly predicting high school football games. My philosophy is that high school sports, first and foremost, are vehicles for our youngsters to learn valuable lessons about life. It isn't going to do the kids from a winless football team any good if they read where I said they're going to lose Friday night. The kids have enough on their plate for me to make them feel any worse about being 0-8. The idea is to prepare them, through sports, about the complex nature of surviving 80 or more years on Planet Earth.

With the Rock Cats, few actually follow minor league baseball like they do other sports. Even the major league teams' reasons for having minor league affiliates don't start with winning. Player development is the only reason the Rock Cats are here, and while winning and development go hand-in-hand, the parent Minnesota Twins are far more pleased that they've developed former Cats like Nick Blackburn, Scott Baker, Alexi Casilla and Denard Span than they are about New Britain making the playoffs in 2003. The unique essence of minor league baseball neither diminishes its importance nor challenges its vibrancy across the width and breadth of "The Fruited Plain," as my great predecessor at The Herald Bart Fisher so eloquently calls it.

I could do what other bloggers do if it's something you'd like to see, like telling you about my Saturday evening at the Platt High gym, writing about the CCC Volleyball Tournament final between Southington and Farmington. I enjoyed the match, always love chatting with two great coaches, teachers and people in FHS' Laura Arena and SHS' Rich Heitz and enjoyed the camaraderie of my wife Lisa, two cherished collegues in Tiffany Ventura (Meriden Record Journal) and John Goralski (Southington Observer) and the many friends I saw from the two towns we cover.

Lisa and I ate at Dominic and Vinnie's Pizza Restaurant on Meriden Road in Southington. Very good. I can't believe I ate the whole thing. I got home in time to watch the end of a very entertaining college football game in which Texas Tech upset Texas. When are they going to put in a playoff system anyway?

So, am I blogging yet?