From the beginning, our courtship with the Brighton-Pittsford Post has been a happy one. Last century, we — like almost all Brightonians — appeared in the Post in various guises. And in the 21st the romance still has the freshness of a first kiss.
In a gesture of its affection, this week BPP reprinted a shortened version of Iconic America at the Brighton Little League Parade.
Admittedly self-indulgent, the following history or genealogy does have a purpose. Travels in the world of amateur journalism — or as practiced at Talker, “imaginative journalism” — can be exquisite fun.
But, as ever, Talker needs you need to get involved. So, if you at all enjoy this adventurare absurdum, join us and create your own.
The first installment had a serpentine legacy. In July, 2000 I wrote about how the heroics of the black troopers who fought in Cuba in 1898 should be remembered. At that time, Lt. Colonel Theodore Roosevelt had been recommended for a Medal of Honor for leading the Rough Riders up the slopes of San Juan Hill. (see “Mr. Crane’s Vivid Story”)
Soon after, then living in Rhode Island, I peddled various incarnations of the story all over the East Coast: “Overdue Honor for ‘Buffalo Soldiers’” Sunday Perspective, New London Day, February 4, 2001; “Thanks to black soldiers, Rough Riders rode smoother” As You Were Saying Column, Boston Herald, February 3, 2001; “A medal for Teddy; others deserving too” Sunday Viewpoint, Buffalo News, August 20, 2000.
At the time, the Boston Herald rewarded contributors with five copies; while I cashed a $50 check from the Buffalo News.
Later, back in Rochester, I politely suggested the Democrat and Chronicle write its own story, which Matt Leingang did. Regrettably, the paper said the Spanish-American War took place in 1892 and — alas — the thesis was not finished “next May” as expected.
Realizing I should never have strayed from my sweetheart, I politely suggested the the BPP write its own story.
I met Matt Ried at Highland Park where I was wearing Linda Howland’s grandfather’s Spanish-American War uniform. We talked about the war and Matt took the picture.
Upon rereading the article, I am still impressed at how deftly Matt took my words and made a synopsis of the thesis worthy of an abstract. I remember — surprised — that Matt said it would take him about 45 minutes to write the article. That’s a pro for you.
Matt’s photo would later appear in On Spanish-American War monuments in Rochester. And remembering the Buffalo Soldiers on Veteran’s Day.
As my email address was included in Matt’s story, a Brighton woman contacted me to arrange a date with her daughter that took place at the old Greenstreet’s over the Holiday’s. That women is now happily married with two children. In New Jersey.
Matt and I would join up for the next installment. I politely suggested he write a story on The Rockpile in Brighton for the Post.
With his camera, Matt joined Dean and me in The Rockpile where we recreated adventures from boyhood. Dean wondered why Matt considered the story newsworthy. I suspect Matt believed in land conservation and wanted to support The Rockpile against suburban encroachment.
An amiable and pleasant man, Matt has multiple sclerosis and uses a cane. But uncomplainingly pushed his way through the brush. And in another 45 minute professional job, Matt displayed his writerly skill.
Interesting to learn Matt now lives in Colorado, owning a photography business and an Emergency Response Team supervisor/dispatcher
UPDATE: Matt reports back, “I remember those articles fondly. They were a lot of fun to write.”
More on the Rockpile would appear in “Memories of the Crab Apple Battles”, Brighton-Pittsford Post, Rush Henrietta Post, Webster Post, May 7, 2009
Both “Memories” would be later incorporated into The ground breaking of the Brickyard Trail in Brighton and “Memories of the Crab Apple battles”
After Hurricane Frances fortuitously uncovered the archives of the International Wiffle Ball League, I politely suggested the Post write a story.
I recall Sarah Daniels — an attractive and vivacious young journalist – coming over to hear the story and take artifacts to be photographed. With a compelling lead, Sarah did a stellar job. Later, when I was the D & C’s Make City Schools Better blogger, I learned that Sarah was the girlfriend, sorry partner, of the D & C‘s Digital Opinion Editor Kevin Frisch (whose patience with me was unbounded).
In January 2015, bloggers last year received this email:
This is the last week for Digital Opinion Editor Kevin Frisch, who accepted a great position with a news organization in on Pennsylvania. Please join me in thanks for all his hard work to advance the cause! (Thanks again, Kevin, 6/10/16)
Sarah and Kevin now live in Clearville, Pennsylvania.
Then the grandaddy of them all — the magisterial Otis the First and Otis the Second: “Remembering a hometown hero,” Spotlight Local History, Gates-Chili Post, June 7, 2012, “Rochester’s Famed but Forgotten Hero,” Guest Essay, Brighton-Pittsford Post June 14, 2012, “Historian reflects on Gen. Otis’s Legacy,” Spotlight Local History, Gates-Chili Post, June 14, 2012, “A good soldier in a dubious war,” Guest Essay, Brighton-Pittsford Post, June 21, 2012 YOUR VIEWS A good soldier in a dubious war and GUEST ESSAY Rochester’s famed but forgotten figure
Later I would ask one of the Post‘s editors, David L. Wheeler, if he had every published a two part series. No, never before. I also asked David if Otis 1 and Otis 2 had received any reader responses. No, none. In life, we must take the wheat with the chaff.
The series includes a bizarre coincidence. The Monday after part 1 came out in the Gates Post, I was randomly assigned a substitute teaching job at the General Elwell S. Otis School # 30. When I arrived, someone had thumbtacked the article on the office bulletin board. The thumbtacked article made me feel better about my status as lowly substitute.
Later, on Veterans Day, the D & C printed a shortened version. As for that photograph, when we bloggers had our orientation session, Max Anderson, then Letter-to-the-Editor editor, took our pictures. Max, I love you, but you are not going to win the Pulitzer for your blogger head shots.
The story would later become Remembering General Elwell Otis on his Day, June 15th: Rochester’s imperial war hero. Tease: come back in five days for an Otis photo-op you won’t believe.
Although I have no idea how it got there, the story did become my first and only wiki reference: “Remembering General Elwell Otis on his Day, June 15th: Rochester’s imperial war hero”. Democrat & Chronicle (Gannett). Retrieved 15 June 2015.
Also, after the article appeared, Dean and I carefully taped the story to Otis’ grave site to honor the hero and educate passerbys. We wondered if the grave text would survive the winter, but actually it disappeared only a day or so later. No doubt removed by a latter day member of the Anti-Imperialist League.
There was also the story of a Canadian flag and the trip Dean and I took to the World Baseball Classic in Toronto that became “An early spring renewal of the spirit” Guest Essay, Brighton-Pittsford Post, March 18, 2009. Writing the story with Dean’s help made the trip that much more memorable.
And the story appeared in our resurrected fungo game at Reifsteck Field: “An early-spring renewal of the spirit” over 10,000 fungos later
There was also “A notable woman, on the wrong side of history” Guest Essay, Daily Messenger, Brighton-Pittsford Post, Penfield Post, Webster Post, April 1, 2009 — the story of the daughter of Joseph Marsh, the Millerite leader who marched up Cobb’s Hill.
With the aid of Eric Kemperman’s photography and Dr. Richard Henshaw’s erudition, the article became On the 22nd of October, 1844 on top of Cobb’s Hill
And one of my favorites, “Even the umpires are having fun” Guest Essay, Brighton-Pittsford Post, Gates Chili Post, April 22, 2009
as it became the homage to the old African-American umpires: 250 years of calling you out
There was “Wired generation may be missing something.”Guest Essay, Messenger Post Newspapers, Brighton-Pittsford Post, Penfield Post, Webster Post, Henritta Post, Irondequoit Post,Gates-Chili-Post February 23, 2012. A different version appeared as Then and Now Brown Alumni Magazine March/April, 2012.
And the piece became On the “Bridge Generation:” born 1960 – 1980 There I make the claim to have been the first to coin the new term for my generation.
Finally, based on a New York Times Book Review and a conversation with Rochester native Bill Peters was “Jetpants” should captivate locals Opinion,, Messenger Post Newspapers, Daily Messenger, Brighton Pittsford-Post, Henrietta Post, Fairport,Webster Post, February, 1 – 8, 2013
The article magically reappeared in The Wedge and became Bill Peters, author of Maverick Jetpants In The City Of Quality, reflects on Rochester and writing
Chris Swinkle also interviewed me for Authors connect with familiar Rochester. Chris wrote
But reader David Kramer of Brighton points out that the quick -witted characters see Rochester as a city of possibility and freedom.“It does capture a lot of that male bonding … that can find novelty and adventure at every turn,” Kramer says.
Recently, my friend Joseph Volpe, Esq. has taken to calling me “Selah Tarrant” based on an article I wrote for the Henry James Review, Masculine Rivalry in The Bostonians: Henry James and the Rhetoric of “Newspaper Making”
In Jame’s novel, Selah was a self promoting and — apparently — sham mesmerist.
Joe cites as evidence a passage from “The Art of Fiction” in which James is merciless towards figures like Selah and Talker:
One sketches one’s age but imperfectly if one doesn’t touch on the particular matter: the invasion, the impudence and shamelessness of the newspaperman and the interviewer; the devouring publicity of life, the extinction of all sense between public and private. It is the highest expression of the note of “familiarity.” The sinking of manners, in so many ways, which the democratization of the world brings with it.
Joe goes further by citing my own analysis of Selah:
But James goes further. Tarrant’s publicity hounding is coupled with an immense enthusiasm for the newspapers which to him (sounding Dana-like) are “national nerve centers” (497). “[H]e had one all-absorbing solicitude—the desire to get paragraphs put into the newspaper” (495). Tarrant spends much of his time loitering in newspaper offices; to him “the penetralia of the daily press were, however, still more fascinating.” He yearns to be at the very epicenter. He has great “zest of forcing an entrance,” and he is “persistent and penetrating” (497). When the editors turn their backs to him, he badgers the young newsboys. Perjorative images of male exposure, physical intrusion, desire for interpenetration, and possible pedophilia cast Tarrant in a homophobic light.
The rhetoric intensifies to the point of hysteria if not obscenity. We are told: “[Tarrant] was always trying to find out what was ‘going in’; he should have liked to go in himself, bodily, and failing in this, he hoped to get advertisements inserted gratis. The wish of his soul was to be interviewed” (497). In one passage there are traces of exhibitionism, voyeurism, and anal sex—promotion, peeping, and penetration.
Joe, in “Talker gets some Little League love from the Brighton-Pittsford Post,” I give you more fodder.
That’s the saga, a love story really. And the moral of the saga: join Talker!