Sunday, April 23, 2006

AP Names Emerson News Media Outlets Best College Stations in Region

WERS has just been named the top college radio station in the region by the Associated Press. For an excerpt from the article, read on:

David Rosen
Public Affairs

From the article on Emerson's E-Campus (

WEBN and WERS-FM at Emerson College have been named by the Associated Press as, repectively, best college television station and best college radio station in this area. Student broadcast news groups on campus also garnered 11 individual prizes in the 2005 Associated Press Broadcasters Awards for Massachusetts and Rhode Island. The awards, were presented on Saturday, April 8 in Sturbridge, Mass.

Seven awards were handed out to WEBN and WERS-FM and Emerson Independent Video (EIV) will each receive two. The awards recognize exceptional coverage of events and issues related to the Iraq War and Hurricane Katrina. Others are in categories ranging from sports, weather, public affairs and enterprise reporting. Rachel Gabrielsen is the WEBN news director; Thaddeus Williams is the EIV station manager; and Blake Nebel is the WERS-FM news director.

(Photo credit: David Rosen; Two newscasters on WEBN, Emerson's television station, which was also named #1 in its category by the AP this year)

Friday, April 21, 2006

Live Music Week at WERS: how America's #1 college radio station gets it done

(Photo credit: Lana Dandan; Under the large phone membership drive phone number, an engineer listens to sound levels and mic checks while WERS staff and musicians coordinate the recording and broadcast that will take place in 5..4...3..)

Published March 24

This was an important assignment for me because it involved one of the most dramatic events of the year for WERS: Live Music Week. WERS is Emerson's radio station, but it is completely supported by its Boston audience, and remains one of Boston's most highly-rated radio stations as well as holding the top slot among college radio stations across the country. To gain the funds needed for its operating budget and updating goals, WERS holds two fundraiser/membership drives during the year, one in Nov. and Live Music Week in March (this is also usually midterms week for students). WERS also records the largest number of live music acts in the region, and over 90 artists came this year, ranging from Wu-Tang members to local heroes, to play in-studio and support the drive. Meanwhile, everyone had to do a shift or two at the phones, where most callers pledging money also weighed in on the ways WERS had changed their lives for the positive in some way.

Every year, someone is chosen to write the big wrap-up article for all of this, and this year my editors asked if I would do it. I had already taken several assignments that week, many of which appear on this site. But that night I spent hours wandering around the studio, talking to everyone from phone operators in the newsroom to engineers in the studio. I barged in on hosts and musicians and asked them what they thought of all this. The overwheming responses were: tired and inspired. The result, which I filed at 1 a.m. that night, was a piece that I found ultimately satisfying in that instead of telling "their" story, I told "our story." Since journalism is usually done at arms' length, it felt good to write about something with which I was so intimately connected. Several people have since told me that this piece made them cry. It still makes me smile. Except for when I think about those empty pizza boxes. Someone had always eaten all the free pizza by the time I came into the studio. Bad form, guys, bad form.

(Photo credit: Lana Dandan; Some movers and shakers of WERS: Paul O'Neill, Assistant Music Director, Anna Sumilat, Program Director, Lee Doerr, Public Relations Coordinator, and Nichole Davis, Gyroscope Coordinator.)

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Interview: Nicolai Dunger, wide-eyed wonder of Sweden

Published March 29, 2006

From the article: Swedish singer/songwriter Nicolai Dunger is uncontrollable, unpredictable, and constantly contrary. But he’s no conformist to the rock-star profile, either: no couch-throwing or self-indulgent whining for Nicolai (although he does have a bit of the partier in him yet). He has other habits that make him a loose cannon.

For example, we could not get him to stop playing entrancingly beautiful songs on our studio’s piano. Thinly built and wide-eyed, Dunger arrived with a 12-string guitar with a taped pick guard, but could not keep his hands off of the big black beauty. Every time there was a lull in the conversation, Nicolai would move quietly but quickly to the keys. He would settle himself down on the leather bench, regarding the array of ivory before him lovingly for a few moments before giving in to what was clearly an insurmountable temptation for him.

“Where did you get this?” he asked breathlessly after the first improvised number. There was silence in the room: we, the objective journalists in the room and therefore the closest thing to wild beasts nearby, were too thoroughly charmed to answer intelligibly.

(Photo credit: Alexandra Mulcahy; Dunger plays the piano in the WERS Live Mix studio)

Nicolai Dunger was kind of my boo for half an hour. He was European, he wore a suit, he was charming in his little-boy-lost mannerisms and quiet proficiency. We went out for coffee to finish the interview, where his manager chatted with the photographer, and I was able to talk to Dunger for a little while unobserved. Later, I was to find out from a couple of Swedish tourists that this was one of the most envy-inspiring things they had ever heard. They wanted to know who the hell I was in the world to get to talk with Nicolai Dunger. I didn't even know who he "was." I still don't, really.

In the article, I am guilty of cliche when I discuss his reading the New York Times, his ability to "sip a strong espresso like it was water." Groan. I know. But at the time it all seemed different to me, when Dunger did it. In his life he had done everything differently. He was not a press-savvy musician, full of half-digested political statements and self-aggrandizing blurb-form bio facts about himself. He did not want me to "make him look good." On tour and far away from home, he just wanted to get a cup of coffee and read a paper, and he was going to do that interview or no interview.

In his quiet way, he gets everything he wants: a session with our piano, a minute without his manager, a second chance at a record contract. He was so mild-mannered that I still don't know if he wanted anything from me. I don't know if he wanted me to like him, or if he even cared what I thought or wrote. I tried to explain it in this piece:

Things have always seemed to come easily to Nicolai Dunger, although his track record over the years seems to suggest what I have learned over coffee: that his quizzical behavior often confuses people as often as it inspires them.

I am still confused, and I am still a little inspired when I think about Dunger. But mostly confused.

WERS presents: GZA of Wu-Tang and DJ Muggs of Cypress Hill

March 7, 2006

From the article:

When GZA and DJ Muggs entered the WERS studio to adoring attentions from longtime fans at the station, these disciples were disappointed to find that the gods they had worshiped from afar were, in fact, human. Off the bus shuffled GZA, Muggs, DJ Kahlil and Chace Infinite of the duo Self Scientific, (with whom DJ Muggs shares a label, Angeles Records), and their renaissance man-assistant, Dave. By the time the crew trundled into the studio late Tuesday afternoon, they were slumping under the weight of a tour almost done. Dingy venues, inconsistent lodgings and food, touchy bus drivers, and drunken fans had all taken their toll on the group. The previous night’s concert in Northampton had been trying: no food provided by the venue, or security for that matter, as intoxicated high school students had attempted to make off with the band’s equipment. Today, a hungry and demoralized group stopped off for a real meal, only to find that the delay would force a battle with the twin demons of Boston: rush hour traffic and parking. Tonight’s show would be the second to last, today’s events the preamble not to an action-packed tour, but a slow descent into sunny L.A. “Everyone’s just ready to be home and in their own beds,” Dave said as we handed out coffee and chai to the weary musicians.

There is a danger in coming face to face with your fantasies. This image of tired and ornery rap stars was the one I carried away from WERS after meeting these two men, men who had made an enormous mark on the early 90s. The photographer for the WERS event at the Paradise Rock Club, my good friend Miriam, who is 27, remembered listening to their music as a high schooler dangling on the verge of dropping out, who moved out of her house at 17, lived with a DJ and sold a little weed. The Wu-Tang told her story then. She is of course different now, a college student and an excellent and sober reporter as well as a photographer, but the imprint GZA's music made on her youth put a squeal in her voice when I tell her about this assignment. To her, GZA was an artist, a literal "genius" as his alter ego suggested. To her, GZA was a legend of the caliber his Asian-fight-flick group name suggested. Moreover, his music suggested to Miriam, I suspected, a validation of what she had been through, but the person who created it had, like her, grown up and grown old. Many of the people in the studio who had also worshiped GZA and Muggs were not willing to accept that their heroes had become cantankerous and old, suspicious and cynical, rough-mannered from years of yes-men and tired by the touring schedules they had once embraced, as the younger proteges they trailed behind them were doing now. I hate to say it, but they really did look very much like they probably did around age eight, when some insensitive smartass or slip in the parental cherade had told them Santa Claus was not real. I wrote this piece for my friends in the studio, who, as grown-up radio folk dealing in personalities and fame every day, "get to" experience as part of their jobs the high-altitude feeling of coming face to face with their fantasies. And who, as grown-up radio folk, have learned to keep working and smiling even as those fantasies fall away, as they always do, one by one.

Album Review: Josh Ritter, "The Animal Years"

I've now reviewed and interviewed a lot of today's artists, but when I'm at home with my own music, I'm listening to albums that were recorded decades ago, like Neil Young's "Harvest," Led Zepplin's "Houses of the Holy," and a liberal smattering of Janis Joplin, Bob Dylan and Billie Holiday (with some Lauryn Hill thrown in). So when I heard Josh Ritter's excellent album, I thought to myself, "Thank God, something new that sounds old enough for me to listen to." Ritter's album is such a great folk specimen that I'll just file it in right next to Johnny Cash and call it good. No wonder he debuted at #3 among the good people of Dublin. And he's practically my homeboy, hailing as he does from Idaho (I'm from Utah), so my basic thesis in this review, if you will, is that it's well past time for us to show him some Stateside love.

Ritter also came to record at WERS during Live Music Week (if I had known I would have gone to shake that man's hand), and you can read more about his intelligent views on life here in this article by Joshua Jenkins.

Interview: Steve Blunt and Friends

(Photo credit: Mary Costa; Steve Blunt of Nashua, NH sings a song his daughter helped to write called "Mac 'N Cheese")

Mar. 28, 2006

I came into the studio late at night after a shift at Cheers, ready to conduct one of several interviews for Live Music Week this weekend, not knowing what to expect because the editors had given me the wrong name for the person I was about to interview. What I found in the Live Mix room was a group of little girls, waiting for their music teacher to bring them maracas made of Easter eggs. It was amazing how quickly I cheered up after that, especially when Blunt finally arrived and began to play a tiny ukelele.

(above: Friends Kara, Riley and Helena give Mr. Blunt backup on "Digga Digga Dinosaur)

Again, the article says it all--this is my favorite excerpt:

"...While he says that his main demographic is 4-to-7-year-olds (an underserved niche record companies have yet to discover), the animated music teacher still works with middle schoolers. One song he shares with me is a clever ode to teenage angst that combines the everyday horrors of puberty (acne, mood swings) with popular monster-movie imagery, called “ Teenage Hormone Swamp .” The way it goes is this: we stand in a deserted hallway, he begins to sing a few bars, his eyebrows inching along his face like caterpillars, his eyes lighting up with every clever joke he remembers weaving, and halfway through the song, he says, “Oh well, I might as well finish,” and ends with a flourish. Blunt is clearly proud of his work, and with good reason..."

Interview: Kilombo Mambo, jazz-Cuban-retro-bongos-salsa-joy band

(photo credit: Scott Fleishman)

This band was so many things at once. It was chaos and it was angry and it was winking and it was outspoken and shy. The photography for this was beautiful, and the full article gives the gist:

The range of age between the members of Kilombo Mambo, one of Boston’s most venerable local salsa bands, spans almost 40 years: from twenty-something Marco Godoy, the dreamy-eyed pianist, to sixty-something Mauro Tortolero, the winking bassist. When asked how long he has been involved with music, he thinks for a moment and says, “Well, when my mother was pregnant with me, she was a singer…”

(Pictured above: Tortolero)

While Tortolero clocks in at 50 years of playing bass (which he can now do while dancing), the total number of years of musical experience under the group’s collective belt is also impressive: a whopping 123 years. Marcelo Ozain, the Argentinan frontman and founder of Kilombo, said that he and trombonist Mondongo have been playing together since the band’s beginning in 1997. As the former house band for Cambridge’s Green Street Grill, Kilombo Mambo has held court as a quasi-collective for many of the musicians in Boston who make a living off the art of salsa.

The concept of “kilombo,” according to Ozain, has an even older pedigree. In Argentina, the kilombo began as a concept of community which was all-inclusive; a place for exiles where “it doesn’t matter if you’re gay, white, black, handicapped—there will be a place for you,” said Ozain. He added that in modern Argentina, the world “kilombo” is also slang for a party or rave.

Needless to say, it’s an appropriate moniker for the revolving-door membership, hedonistic sound, and long-standing dance instigation that Kilombo Mambo has brought to Boston’s music scene over the last decade. Frontman Ozain reiterates his mission statement throughout the session as something to the effect of “music and dance can change the world. It’s going to take a million years, though, so we might as well enjoy ourselves in the meantime.”

[click here to continue]

(Ozain plays, sweat dripping down his face, as WERS staffer Angshuman Gosh dances to the music outside the studio)

Write-up: Hiromi in-studio

Published Feb. 16, 2006

Sometimes when an artist comes to record in-studio, there is no writer available to meet with and interview them. Hiromi, a Berklee-trained young jazz musician, came to record on a winter afternoon, and I was asked to transcribe the interview and research her background to write an intro for the piece. While her quiet, accented voice made it difficult to hear her speak, to hear her play was like listening to Niagara Falls thundering through my headphones. Definitely an artist worth seeing in concert next time.

(Photo: WERS)

Interview: Mieka Pauley, Boston singer/songwriter

(Photo credit: Alexandra Mulcahy; me (left) and Mieka Pauley get comfortable on the floor of the studio as Baratunde barrages us with political jokes)

February 2, 2006

This was my first interview with an artist for WERS and one of my favorites (although they're all good). Mieka is hungry but intelligent, gracious but not a pushover. She had morning hair and socks with stars on them, I remember. She and her boyfriend kept their relationship a secret from me for the first half of the interview. For some reason, I understood that. I went to her sold-out concert at Club Passim and could not bring my friends in, so we sat outside the glass, eating salad from an enormous crouton. After the show, I forcibly pressed eight dollars into her hand for her CD. My friend held it for me that night and strangely enough, has not given it back.

Album Review: The Avett Brothers' "Four Thieves Gone"

WERS Coffeehouse Album of the Month (Feb 2006)

This was my first review for WERS. The album was rough around the edges, but fun in its own way.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Momaday Brings His Unique Voice To Emerson

(painting courtesy of; N. Scott Momaday, "Admiral of the Ocean Seas")

Published April 6, 2006

Correct me if I am wrong, but after reading Mr. Momaday's book twice, writing a paper on him, attending his lecture, and speaking with him during a press interview and two luncheons, I would hope that I can say with some instinctual knowledge that Momaday's painting here captures his essence much better than any photographs of the man. Here you see an older, imposing figure in dark, bold relief, in a hat very characteristic to Momaday. He is leaning over a figure to whom he might be telling a story, which is his favorite thing--the more listeners, the better.

You might imagine a man with a wide, gracious brow; a string tie worn proudly, never ironically; a well-fitted suit in dark colors; and with him he carries an elegant cane, which he leans his chin on when he is making a particular point. His elocution hints at speech coaching and a serious thespian bent, while his stories of his own college age are filled with tales of Stanford and reading the manuscripts of Emily Dickinson during cold New England winters.

Momaday's mother was a writer and his father was a painter, and both influences figure prominently in "The Way to Rainy Mountain," his 70s swan song to the Kiowa tribe of which he is a part. Momaday began as a writer, but as a Pulitzer Prize-winner he has now been all over the world, on many seas, talking to people on many different continents, and he has found new life in painting what he knows. He believes fondly in the intrinsic talent for art in his native American students, but he came to Emerson to encourage the storytellers among us.

Momaday is somewhat of a disappointment to me. I am from the West, where people have little pretension, less starch in their clothing, a slower and less calculated way of talking. Momaday is a slick and nearly patronizing man who strikes an imposing if not entirely un-grandfatherly figure, and he does not immediately put me at ease. I am filled with a homesickness for the West he writes about which does not find its resolution in meeting him: he is too much like the Easterner I have become. But on that level we begin to relate, and he ends up charming me in the end, with a story that did not make it to print:

Once, Mr. Momaday was asked to write a chapter for a written history on the United States, and to represent "the Native American voice." He began, ill at ease with the concept, and said with understated irony, "You see, I was taught in school that 'our' history began in New England in the 1600s." So he fell into the writerly exercise of looking his task up in the dictionary. "Under 'to write,' it read 'to incise upon a surface,'" Momaday said. I waited with my pen for the punchline. "And this opened the floodgates, as I could then argue that the written history of the United States began in Utah with the petroglyphs, two thousand years ago!" he finished triumphantly.

All in all, I think I gave Momaday a fair treatment in this article. I could never shed my idea of him as a too-polished cane, holding up a limping social movement, but I could respect the fact that he felt obligated to do so, and did it as well as it could be done.

Here's the lead paragraph for the story:

Author N. Scott Momaday joined the ranks of Whoopi Goldberg, Edward Albee and Anna Deveare-Smith as a visiting artist-in-residence at Emerson this weekend, speaking about his favorite subjects: identity, words, the oral tradition, the state of Native Americans and indigenous people worldwide and killing icebergs...

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Experience Some of Boston's Savory Secrets

(photo courtesy of; sushi similar to that served at Suishaya in Chinatown)

Published Mar. 20, 2006

This kind of service piece is by now par for the course for Beacon Lifestyle. I worked with two new trainees out of the 6 vying for the position of Assistant Lifestyles--5 more than were interested in the position when I came on as assistant ed. in the Spring of '05. Kasey, Nicole and I originally conceived this article as one where we would enter the "double-dare dives" of the city, the ones you know haven't seen a health code investigation since the Nixon administration, the ones with obscured signs and even more obscure foods. But what we came up with, fortunately, was a much more comprehensive and accessible guide to the small and tasty operations right under our noses, which we were seeing with fresh eyes as we looked around for potential restaurants to review. With the help of a savvy Indian friend, I unearthed a Brazilian barbecue restaurant (all you can eat for $5 a plate) and a Turkish family restaurant, as well as a delicious sushi restaurant we found in Chinatown a stone's throw from campus. Here are the results:

[on Suishaya] "...For first-timers, all you need to know is this: don't try to get a table here at noon. This corner café serves Korean and modern Japanese cuisine to mobs of suited businessmen and local residents who wait patiently to preside over steaming bowls of noodles and eye-popping displays of sushi.

One of the hallmarks of the midday crush is the lunchbox special, presented in an elegant version of a cafeteria tray (for those of you who went to public school). For $8.95, you receive a small entrée potrion, an individual California roll, a smattering of salad with peanut dressing, a tiny crab cake and a serving of vegetable tempura, all in their own tiny compartments, as well as a cup of miso soup..."

Resolution #109: Cook at home more often

(Graphic courtesy of

Published Feb. 3, 2006

Subhed: How to fend for yourself and make it fun: ideas from online innovators, Emersonians and your mom

This article captured another trend in the collective student consciousness: coming back from break, many wondered why they didn't indulge in the at-home cooking they had enjoyed in their parents' kitchens. While healthier and cheaper, cooking at home is not necessarily a skill that students come equipped with, especially when raised by a generation of parents who were too busy with social work or graduate theses to do much more than throw a Stouffer's in the microwave. With the assumption of total ignorance (like mine) in mind, I drafted a fun-to-read guide to cooking which included subhed suggestions like "Go on a pantry raid" and "Snacks for your inner child." We also featured amazing but little-known services like, an organic produce delivery service that works much like milk delivery. And we even created a cut-out grocery list for readers.

Lead paragraph:

You are ready to resolve to stop making resolutions. You'd love to save money and shed pounds this year, but you can't seem to stick to the strict, complicated and time-consuming plans you've made to do so. But by cooking foods for yourself instead of heading to a pizza place or calling 1-800-TAKEOUT, you can do both at the same time.

Home-cooked meals are generally less expensive and do not have to include cream, butter and other hidden sources of fat on which restaurants rely. Below, we list some ways to keep your cooking on track, and most importantly, make it enjoyable. (We'll even help you make your grocery list).

Yoga gives students time to relax

(Photo courtesy of; Baron Baptiste, Boston yoga pioneer)

Published Nov. 17, 2005

As the semester neared finals time, many of us sought salvation in yoga, increasingly a haven not for hippies but for overstressed urbanites who find that scheduling down time is the only way to have it. I encountered a lot of people whose lives had been changed by this practice. The rising popularity of a doctrine which encourages you to stop self-judgement, eschew competition with the other sweaty bodies in the room, clear your head, and accept the consequences comes as little surprise, but offers much hope as at least a half-measure in correcting the uber-work ethic that characterizes urban life in Boston. I thought this was a noteworthy trend to examine at Emerson as well.

Lead paragraph(s):

The number of participants in yoga classes at the Emerson College Fitness Center (ECFC) has increased this year from a handful of practitioners to full classes holding 15 to 18 students, according to Jenn Finn, general manager of the ECFC.

While the overall numbers for group fitness classes have gone up since the fitness center became free to all students (last year's members paid $150 per semester), class sizes usually shrink as homework piles up, Finn said. "November is couch potato month," she said. "We expect that. It's just the nature of the beast. You got projects, you got midterms, the holidays are coming up."

This year, however, is different for the fitness center's yoga classes in particular, according to Finn.

"[Attendance for yoga classes] has remained pretty steady," she said. "Yoga is more popular now than it ever has been. Classes are generally full." Students must sign up in advance, and often encounter mat-to-mat traffic in the one crowded room. "Two years ago, we wouldn't have had [that situation]," Finn said.

One reason for the class's popularity may be the focus on relaxation that characterizes yoga classes and makes them different from more demanding routines at the ECFC, such as the military-style workout offered in the Boot Camp class or the 7 a.m. intensive bike-based spin class...

New HPV vaccine

Published Nov. 10, 2005
By Kasey Fielding

Not all of the articles we publish in Lifestyle are about butterflies and fawns. We had an increased emphasis on health coverage this year, and 2005 saw a relatively major development: a vaccine to combat human papillomavirus (HPV), a sexually transmitted disease (STD) that can lead to cervical cancer. The complexities of this article made it difficult to write--health care experts are notoriously busy and difficult to contact, much less a pharmeceutical company, and the logistical and social implications of the vaccine were complicated. How to market a drug that combats an STD that must be administered to adolescents whose parents may not be comfortable or aware of their children's sexual identities?

Yet for a college readership, however, this information was vital. One should ideally be vaccinated for HPV before one becomes sexually active, and for those who have graduated high school, this must be a voluntary act undertaken individually. It was also important to note that this was not a cure for cancer, but a preventative measure. The angle we chose to take was on the awareness of the issue in the student body, with some shocking results-- one young man told our reporter, Kasey, that "he would only consider being vaccinated if his 'cervix were in danger"' (men do not have cervixes) or if he were promiscuous, but men are equally susceptible to genital warts caused by HPV."

My assistant and I did a lot of work with Kasey to finish this article, and we were very proud of the result. For more information, read on:

Social Health Association's Web site, There are over 100 strains of the virus, which is not necessarily prevented by condom use, the ASHA said.

More than 20 million people in the United States have HPV. Almost three out of four people between 15 and 49 will contract the virus in their lifetime, ASHA said. Because the virus is asymptomatic and undetectable, HPV can be spread among sexual partners unconsciously, according to ASHA.

The Resource Foundation's Web site,, names high school and college students as the group with the highest risk of contracting the virus; two- thirds of STI cases are found in people under 25. Merck said their clinical studies have included adolescent men and women aged 10 to 23.

For many young people, the vast amount of complex information about HPV is difficult to comb through, and the correlation between cervical cancer and HPV is often misunderstood..

The Stormy Fan-an ode to transplanted Sox supporters

Published Oct. 27, 2005

I rarely feel the need to write an op-ed piece for our section, especially on sports. But as a person who grew up cheering for those perennial losers, the Buffalo Bills, yet lacked a baseball team, I came to have a soft spot for my adopted Red Sox and for the legendary Fenway, where I had one of my first dates with my boyfriend, Roger. The local contingent at Emerson is surprisingly outnumbered by students from across the States and international students, but they are vocal when it comes to trying to measure up to their adulation for the Sox. I felt I had to stick up for those of us who, like enthusiastic immigrants, were only a generation away from becoming rooted Sox fans, and deserved patience and solidarity, not a knee-jerk rejection. Trivial in its scope? Maybe. But as I wrote:

"I may not know the latest score, but as a writer I can understand a compelling metaphor. The best sports teams are the ones that are metaphors for the towns and cities they play for, that inspire those parts of the country that are defined by their graceful losses and please their fans regardless of the score."

Lead paragraph(s):

I have an issue with the "fair-weather fan" bashing I have seen in Boston in the past year, and specifically Lauren DeLong's "Fair-weather fans frustrate" article in last week's Berkeley Beacon.

Sure, everyone loves a winner, but anyone who roots for the underdog knows the losers are much more endearing. There's a mind-altering disease that old-school Red Sox fans are high on these days though: let's call it Hub-centricism.

The disease is defined by memory loss: now that the Sox have won and are the center of the sports universe, the "die-hard" fans believe it has always been thus, that there wasn't a time where crowds applauding fruitlessly was believed to be the cure for the Curse of the Bambino.

Now that we've all cheered and we've all cared, not sharing the Red Sox is unsportsmanlike, especially when a real supporter should believe that the best thing for the team is a more-the-merrier attitude-whether they win or lose.

I guess you could call me a stormy-weather fan. I think that teams whose loser status is legendary are the best to join. These organizations will roll out the welcome mat for anyone who roots for their cause...

Healthy fast food? Knowfat! Lifestyle has it all

(Photo credit: Miriam Clithero; proprietor Jeremy Lappin)

Published Oct. 20, 2005

This was one of my first official restaurant reviews for the Beacon, about a new concept that had opened up near a gym. Food that's pretty tasty, cheap and nearby is the holy grail for a college student with a night class, and that's the angle I took with this. There was also an inside-baseball angle to this: Lappin was a ping-pong buddy of the guy who opened Boston Market. I thought those sweet potatoes tasted familiar.

Lead paragraph:

It is dinnertime and you are off and running, trying to find a portable morsel of food in the miserly 12-minute break your night class teacher has given you to scavenge for a meal. But a slice of pizza isn't cutting it and you want something heartier than a Subway salad. Where can you find a quick, satisfying meal near campus? Try Knowfat! Lifestyle Grille, a health-food/fast-food restaurant which recently opened its first franchise near Emerson's campus at 530 Washington St. (right across from Emerson's newest purchase, the Paramount Theatre).

Apartment fix-up tips

(Photo credit: Miriam Clithero; Cheap Chic, an Allston store selling cheap furniture for students)

Published Sept. 15, 2005

This was one of 3 pieces I produced for the same deadline; I wrote everything in our section for our second issue. This was one I had been working on during the summer as I moved into an apartment which was to become, despite all my best intentions and careful research, a death trap that I only recently escaped. I should have simply written in bold letters:

Do not live in a city apartment where the plants are dying: this means that your habitat is likely as inhospitable to humans. Go instead to a neighborhood where trees grow without help of personal gardener, and you will likely flourish there as well.

But as students often, due to financial reasons, bloom where they're planted, this is a good guide to making a 10 X 10 space seem a little more like home.

Lead paragraph:

As the door to your new apartment or dorm room swings open, you survey a common scene: dirty carpets, pockmarked uninspiring white walls, paint-spackled hardwood and that ugly stepchild of all housing surfaces - the dreaded linoleum floor. If you are lucky enough to have windows, they're coated in grime that dates back to the Civil War; if you have lights that work, they are most likely the romantic fluorescent variety that makes you shudder when you flip the switch. But worse than all this is the blankness of it all.

Day-tripping by train to the "Other Cape"

(Photo credit: Bradford Weaver)

Published Sept. 15, 2005

Singing Beach in Manchester-by-the-Sea on Cape Ann is one of the most beautiful places in New England, and it's accessible by train. This was newsworthy to me! Not to mention that a few stops down the line lies the cool (if kitschy) artists' haven of Rockport, where cheap seafood and odd gifts abound in an oasis of rocks and brightly-colored kayaks. While these places are ones you instinctively want to keep secret, I was willing to let this one leak.

Lead paragraph(s):

September in Boston is one of the best times of the year. The Sox are still playing, the Patriots are preparing to clinch another season, the roses are in full bloom, and the weather still feels like summer. That's why you have to get out of Boston while you can.

That's right. We only have a few beautiful months here in New England, and so even as you're settling in for the first time or settling down after another tourist-filled summer in Boston, there's not a moment to lose in getting the most out of the sunshine, and the middle of the city is not a prime location. While you may think you're ready for summer to end, post-Labor-Day sunshine is the best of all, because when you hit the beach, the crowds will have gone home for the summer.

Guide to Finding Boston's Roads Less Traveled

Published Sept. 8, 2005

This article appeared in the first issue of the Beacon that I edited as section editor for Lifestyle. I had originally asked a friend, Sara Holt, to explain her perspective on the city in writing, as I respected her street-savvy and her ability to always know where to get a student discount on a yoga class, where to dig up vintage clothes, and which people to invite to a music-making/painting party. I ended up co-writing the story with her, something which happened often throughout the year with students whom I suspected had talent and vision but not quite enough polish, like Sara, a marketing student whom I coaxed into writing a news piece. This article set the tone for my editorial focus this year: a constant searching for students with hidden writerly longings, neighborhoods with untapped potential, events with indie cred, and gardens tucked away in secret corners of the city.

Lead paragraph and first item:

Behind the uniformity of looming concrete facades, Boston is a city of diverse sub-worlds. Hidden there are cheap or free events for the poor college student. One just has to know where and how to look.

Get Your Ya-Ya's Out...of Downtown

To join a unique class or a group, check out places where local people are advertising events themselves. The bulletin board in Central Square's Harvest Co-op, a community-owned and collectively operated market lists inexpensive local events and classes, such as introductions to Russian, watercolor, and tea appreciation. (The "board" is also available online at /pages/stores/ calendar.html.)

Best Brunches in Beantown, Easter or Anytime

(photo courtesy of

Published March 24, 2005

All I have to say about this service piece (again, a genre that seems to suit me here at Lifestyle) is that (1) it's one of my favorite pieces about food that I've written, and (2) I wrote it in one hour on the day that we went to print, to replace another article that fell through. This was a lesson in learning not to be a perfectionist--the best writing is spontaneous, honest, and self-confident, abilities that I am always trying to refine, no matter how many articles I've turned around in that same time since then. This showed me that I could do it.

Lead paragraph and first item:

Looking for a way to rekindle the Easter spirit (maybe for the first time)? Or perhaps you are looking for a way to celebrate the freedom to eat chocolate again with the end of Lent? Or maybe you don't care about religion and just want to eat some post-party Sunday food in the company of friends-without having to hunt and gather it in the dining hall? Here are some student and local favorites for the best brunch in Beantown.

The Paramount
44 Charles St.
The hottest spot for brunch in downtown Boston, the Paramount has one rule: no saving seats. On most Sundays, the line for food stretches out the door, while the narrow restaurant seats only a few dozen patrons. Somehow, this time-honored policy, which requires that one order and pay for one's food before finding a table, has served the restaurant well. Customers return every week and help to enforce fair play by glaring fiercely at women in silk ponchos who attempt to claim one of the minimalist steel tables before getting in line with the rest of the proletariat. Almost everything is under $10, but the food quality caters to a more discerning crowd, with fresh eggs and unusual ingredients tossed with expert skill beside heaping mounds of home fries. It may churn up memories of the dining hall (for better or for worse), with banging pans, taciturn grill masters and an often-claustrophic crowd, but make no mistake, this is a quality experience in down-to-earth clothing.

Hankin leaves behind recycling legacy at Emerson

(Photo courtesy of

Published March 3, 2005

In small community reporting such as that done at a college, it is inevitable that a subject of an article will hit close to home. Alan Hankin was my professor, but was dearly loved by all who worked with him on a staggering amount of projects. One such project was the recycling program at Emerson, a frustratingly slow-moving process which Hankin had championed as chair of the fledgling science department. When he passed away due to an untimely heart attack, it looked as though these two entities would cease to exist as well. This article captured an incredibly fragile moment in the college's history, and was a difficult one to write for me: it was, in a way, a sort of swan song for Alan Hankin. I was able, however, to use interviews that I had done with Alan while he was still a vivacious Viking of a man, holding court in an office strewn with ungraded papers and animal bones. Most importantly, I was able to imbue this piece with the warmth and personal touches that a person with more "objectivity" or "distance" might have missed. The emotions and the poignancy of the moment were, in fact, the point here.

Lead paragraph:

As an ardent environmentalist, Dr. Alan Hankin involved many of his students in activities to discover their impact on the environment.

Hankin was faculty advisor to Earth Emerson, a student-led environmental group formed in one of his classes in 1997.

Hankin, head of Emerson's science department, died suddenly Tuesday of an apparent heart attack. He was 56.

During his tenure as Earth Emerson's advisor, he acted as a liason between his students and the college's administration.

One of the most important items on the group's agenda has been the creation of a viable recycling system within the college, a goal the group finally achieved five weeks ago.

Internships-Be The Person They Want To Hire

Published February 24, 2005

I was obsessed with this topic in the Spring of '05. To find a position in the "real world" conjures images of one looking up toward a hermetically sealed glass skyscraper, tapping on the windows to find a way into Corporate America. As it turned out, the information in this article helped to land me an internship with the decidedly laid-back Da Capo Publishing, a small imprint in Cambridge where the interns were allowed to wear flip-flops. After a summer reading book reviews of our titles (which included the non-fiction classic "Friday Night Lights," the unknown but deliciously scrappy "The Dark Stuff," and the biography of Dave Van Ronk), I decided that to write about music and people would be a divine way to live. So I think I fulfilled all the promises I made with this article.

Lead paragraph:

This spring, it's open season on summer internships-many students are on the hunt for an experience that will help them in their future careers. Since an intern is literally hired as staff, the interviewing process for internship positions is often the same as the conventional job interview, and one to take seriously. Chances are, the competition will be high. So what will make you the best man or woman for the job? Two words: people skills.

Love Don't Cost a Thing-If You Know Where to Go

Published February 13, 2005

I had a blast writing this very silly article, as I had recently been chosen as an assistant editor for the paper and felt I had more room to experiment. Which meant lots of plays on words that I thought were clever. But the article provides good information about things to do in the expensive city of Boston that work on every day of the year--a genre that I seem to have pioneered (and thankfully improved upon since this breathy piece) at Lifestyle.

Lead paragraph:

We have heard that the best things in life are free, but we have also heard that we are living in a material world and diamonds are a girl's best friend. So, what advice can be offered to a penniless college student hit by cupid's arrow? First, resist the urge to turn to Napoleon Dynamite for advice and "build a cake" or a boondoggle keychain for your potential date. Second, if you want to avoid breaking the bank and your lover's heart, we suggest you take our advice instead.

"LP still music to student's ears" -Baylor Lariat

Speaking of journalists using articles in order to curry favor with lovers. Here is one from Roger's college paper about Roger and his friends, which was written by a girl who was having a fling with his friend, Johnny Newman. She elected to interview them about their favorite collective college pretension, their beloved LP collections. This article was published on Oct. 17, 2001.

The perils and pitfalls of pet ownership

(photo credit: Sarah Taggart)


While this is the definition of a fluff piece, the story behind this story is actually much better than the finished product. I was among many students who were experiencing dog deprivation in the spring of my freshman year, and I constantly talked about this with Roger, a person I was trying to date at the time. He used this to invite me into going with him to pick out a dog at the nearby animal shelter. The cool eighteen-year-old I thought I was, however, had to find a pretense for going that was not so blatantly obvious, and when Roger suggested that I could write an article about it, I immediately dashed off a letter to my editor begging to write the assignment. When I had her approval, Roger had his, and we went together to the Animal Rescue League of Boston. The man there, instead of giving us tips on kitty litter and leash laws like I had expected, made such a thorough case for why college students were the worst pet owners imaginable (weekends in New York; loud, smoky parties; minimal funds to adequately feed the pet) that we left without one. Seeking to extend the quirky date, we still went over to visit a dog bakery in the South End despite our lack of a dog, and made some awkward advances to one another in the basement of this bizarre bourgeoisie business. I was able to weave the events of this day into a decent service piece (the point of which was to talk the reader out of the very thing they were reading the article for). More importantly, Roger and I were able to recover from the strangest date in the world, and have been happily taking care of each other instead for 2 years.

So without further ado, the lead paragraph:

Many students will be getting their first apartments this summer or next fall. As they settle in, they will enjoy a newfound freedom to party, decorate and connect with the community. With an apartment, Boston seems to feel a little more like home. One piece of home that is missing for many students, however, is a pet.

Activists in Our Midst


Emerson College is a typical Boston liberal-arts school: students afire with knowledge and half-digested ideas, an environment steeped in progressive social movements, and quietly panicked by the looming threat of the apathy of both the powerful and their peers. This article began as a class assignment, a study in the speech patterns of three different students who "had causes" and "did" activism in one way or another. It became a sampling of the ways the students at our school (I hesistate to use the expression "our generation") react to issues in a cynical post-60s world where often actions do not matter as much as we'd like, and to what extent this affects whether or not we act.

Lead paragraph:

Everyone has issues. It seems that at Emerson, we have our own unique take on the issues, and aren't shy about making opinions heard. The Beacon spoke with a few students who are making things happen, on campus and off. These students are not the presidents of organizations and they are certainly not getting paid...