It’s been a whole freakin' year
Can you believe it?
Today is the one year anniversary of quitting my job at Worcester Magazine and launching this newsletter!
Thank you to everyone who’s subscribed and read my work and shared my work. We all built this nice little thing and I am eternally grateful and humbled by the support.
To celebrate the occasion, I made a run of t-shirts! Check it out! They’re cool!
My friend Ryan over at Negative Press does really, really clean screen printing work. If you need some stuff made yourself I would highly suggest hitting him up. Here’s his Facebook and his Instagram. And of course let’s give the man Johnny Garlin another shout out for that awesome logo. He’s also sick at tattooing so hit him up.
To get yourself one of these here cool shirts alls you gotta do is send me an email at email@example.com with a size and an address, and I’ll send you instructions on how to pay and then I’ll go put it in the mail. I made a Big Cartel store but then I was like eh it’s only 50 shirts let’s cut out the middle man. They’re $20, and I have sizes S to XXXL. If you’re one of those insanely awesome people that signed up to pay me $420 a year to do this newsletter, email me if you want a shirt and the shirt is yours on the house. Hell, two shirts.
Paying me $420 a year is something you can do if you’re feeling frisky hehe
Over the past year, I’ve done work I am extremely proud of. The freedom to lean all the way into an editorial style that feels uniquely mine has been liberating. And my wonderful copy editor Kathryn keeps me from looking too much like a chump. On this here newsletter I’ve said stuff like the passage below regarding Hillside Beach, its imminent destruction, and all the equity issues baked into it.
This isn’t the first time the city has demonstrated a disregard for access to swimming and recreation for working class Worcester residents. The issue of Hillside Beach is one easily connected to the community pools, which were systematically shuttered and demolished in the late 2000s. The city went from eight pools to one, which still exists at Crompton Park. Seven, at Holmes Field, University Park, Beaver Brook Park, East Park, Kendrick Field, South Worcester Playground and Tacoma Street Playground respectively, were demolished at a cost of $1.1 million in 2009.
So yes, Hillside Beach is dangerous, perhaps more so than your average beach, though there’s been no effort made to get rid of the beaches at Lake Quinsigamond or Bell Pond, where drownings also routinely occur, and since the late 2000s there’s been fewer and fewer places to swim for city youth.
And then I’ve turned around and written stuff like this about an extremely funny video that we should all watch again
But without city leadership this out of touch with the community, how would we ever get a video this funny?
On every level of comedy, the video pops. 10/10. The writers of Parks and Rec couldn’t dream of a bit this dryly funny. The background music. The way the camera pans. The way he shamelessly plugs the ballpark after giving kids zero useful information vis-a-vis the intended subject. The way he wants to say “coming to you live from” but then realizes the video isn’t live and just says “coming to you.. from Polar Park.”
Chef’s kiss :*
Sometimes you have to be real, and sometimes you just gotta strap up and new-boot goof around! We have fun here!
The dominant recurring themes of this newsletter have been...
Labor issues like the ongoing worker safety problem at Table Talk Pies, the far-too-ongoing nurses’ strike and more recently the whole restaurant worker shortage thing of which I have plenty firsthand knowledge.
The diversity and the wonderful and organic creative energy in the Worcester community that makes it such a special place.
I also wrote a travel essay about my time in Joshua Tree which didn’t get read so much because I made the silly mistake of putting it behind a paywall initially, but the people who liked that one liked it more than anything else I’ve written. A good friend of mine said it made her cry. Here’s an excerpt of that.
I’m writing this post from an airplane which is currently very high above the part of Pennsylvania where my dad’s side of the family is from. The part in between Philly and Pittsburgh that’s mostly rural save for the old factory towns that cluster around rivers and from this height, you can see it real well how it happens. Humans say oh, here’s a good spot and it’s usually by some body of water and all the other humans around agree and give it a few centuries and bam, you’ve got yourself a city. The last time I was in this part of the country I was on land. In my Pappy’s camper in fact. He took me all around Altoona and he showed me where he grew up and we got hot dogs and we visited his sister who dropped a hard n-word while watching college football. Pap apologized to me for that one privately later though it really didn’t bother me too much if we’re being honest. She’s 80 plus years old in her own home and what am I supposed to do I don’t even know this woman. When I was young, maybe 11 or 12, my Pappy wondered aloud where me and my sister got our musical predilections and talents. Then he confessed to me that his grandfather was a minstrel singer. It doesn’t make it ok he said but it was a different time and people just did that. It doesn’t make it ok but maybe that’s where this whole music thing comes from, he said. Buried deep in the family back from the minstrel singing times. I said pap, what’s a minstrel singer and he explained it and I said ohhhhhh. So that’s the culture I come from. The last time anyone on my dad’s side was a musician it was the racist kind. My Pappy is one of my first male role models and I still look up to him and love him to death and he’s also an avid Trump supporter but what are you going to do, tell an 80 year old woman to not use the n-word in her own home?
Rest in peace to a real one, by the way. My grandfather died earlier this year. I really loved that man and I’m going to miss him to death. Here’s a picture I took of him on the camper trip mentioned in the above passage. It ranks among my most prized possessions.
When I launched this newsletter, the intention was to make more money off my craft than I had a chance to at media outlets in this city while freeing myself from editorial control I profoundly disagreed with. And I have succeeded in that, if only marginally. But this whole Worcester Sucks project also serves at once as a critique and a possible way out of the dismal situation local journalism finds itself in. As I wrote in this story on the subject, every year there are fewer and fewer jobs available to local reporters and photographers and editors, and every year the old heads with the institutional knowledge that keeps a newsroom’s blade sharp are getting kicked out the back door.
Suffice it to say that strong local journalism is not the objective of a company like Gannett. Companies like that buy newspapers like the Telegram to slowly drain them of all the value they have—bonus points for real estate—as they report earnings to shareholders that they make off laying off reporters and editors and ad staff while charging the same if not more for the product while the product gets worse and worse. People have a low opinion of the Telegram and of Worcester Magazine precisely because these institutions have been whittled away by venture capital to the point where doing anything of value is hard.
The Telegram and Worcester Magazine have their problems, to be sure, and I disagree often with the way they frame stories and the stories they choose to tell. Way less so Worcester Magazine (Hi Victor love u), but I want to include them in this next thought.
Problems and disagreements aside, they’re staffed by good, hard-working people who are asked to do way too much for way too little by a company that sees them as wholly expendable. I refuse to give my labor to a company hellbent on erasing it. If this newsletter didn’t work out, I was just going to quit journalism forever.
But it did work out! Hell yeah, bud! I saw bigger writers I really admire and definitely rip off like Luke O’Neil and Kim Kelly move their work to Substack with success. I was a fan of their writing and how they used the platform and I took a huge gamble on whether it would work on a local level. The night before I pulled the trigger, I reached out to Luke for advice. I told him if it didn’t work out I had a kitchen job to fall back on and I wouldn’t die in the street or anything and he just said “then fuck it.” So I said fuck it!
By the way, if you’re looking to get more into this sort of journalism, the newsletter Discontents catalogs the work of 16 really unique and talented writers who are, like me, discontented with the current state of legacy media.
So now I’m looking toward the future and I’ve got a couple big, big stories in the works and we’ve got an election coming up, people! I’m out of the kitchen life now and settling into a new side job that should allow me a lot more time to dedicate to journalism. I’ve been posting about once a week since I started this, and I’d like to bump it up to two times and also I’d like to start shining more of a light on the things I love about Worcester to balance out all the sucks. A little bit more human interest, you know what I mean? Say what you will about Worcester, it is chock-full of interesting people. I’d also like to hand my platform off from time to time to other writers who have something to say about the city and give ‘em a little money for doing so. If you think you have a story that would be good for Worcester Sucks, shoot me an email firstname.lastname@example.org
And thusly in conclusion and in all accordance and the good standing of the Court of the Commonwealth I bid thee adieu. Thank you so much for reading, for sharing, and, if you’re a paying subscriber, for forking over a beer’s worth of cash every month to support my work. I love you all.
P.S. You see this shit?
Unbelievable. The work is never ending.