While our current Evening Sun reporters are working to bring you our Progress Chenango 2009 special sections this week, I’ve asked five of my favorite ES alumni to fill in as guest columnists. I hope you enjoy catching up with them as much as I did. – Ed.
By Jude Seymour
Andy Warhol was about to be proven a prophet again.
The Women’s Entertainment network had just requested my expertise on a subject I had learned far too much about during my Evening Sun tenure: imprisoned women.
While mulling my opportunity to seize my 15 minutes of fame, I asked your esteemed editor, Jeff, to send copies of my work on the subject. My recollection was that my court reporting read like the minor works of David Simon, dripping with prose so compelling that people didn’t dare miss the next day’s paper.
The reality was sobering. My stories had snooze-inducing ledes, clunky transitions and quotations that were as peppy as a grocery list.
I recited snippets of each malformed story aloud to my current editor, Perry White, as his face cringed. Chuckling, Perry reassured me that little of my more recent copy had produced similar stomach-churning moments.
I felt relief. I left Chenango County three years ago with hopes of becoming a better journalist. Thanks to editors like Perry – and a fair share of threatening words in red ink – my writing and reporting had improved.
The county I left behind got better in my absence.
Jason Lawrence was just starting in the city codes office when I headed up to Watertown, but I’ve admired from afar his work in making landlords more accountable for their dwellings. I remember hearing Ed Morano’s frustration about multi-family blight at every City Council meeting and admired his passion for trying to improve our quality of life. I’m glad Jason, Joe Angelino and other city leaders took his words to heart.
I’m also pleased that construction on the Brown Avenue housing project is expected to begin this spring, after several hiccups and false starts. I stood, like several city reporters before me, on that empty lot and wondered if the promise we all saw on paper would ever become a reality. I’d find it very fitting if Barry Manilow’s chart-topper “Looks Like We Made It” was playing when Judy Wingate-Wade cut the ribbon on the first house.
I’m excited by news that the towns of German and Pitcher meet regularly to discuss ways to consolidate services and look at ways to save taxpayers money. Which municipalities or school districts will show the courage to follow their lead? Like many, I was dismayed by the lack of progress between the town and city of Norwich, for there is great opportunity there. I know it in my heart.
I recall great trepidation when Milford Academy relocated to New Berlin from Connecticut. Some locals openly questioned whether an influx of teenagers would lead to a decreased quality of life in the small village. I’m pleased to read that Bill Chaplick has made good on his promise to become a positive part of the community, the kind that produces more headlines about Heismans than heists.
There have been dozens of similar success stories tucked inside the pages of The Evening Sun since I left, often providing a welcome respite from the reports about the latest violent crime. (Tyler and I have had far too many depressing conversations about the number of murder cases he’s covered since I’ve left.)
I’ve been reading about it all from the north country, where I’ve been employed by the Watertown Daily Times for more than three years now. I tricked Fran Gebbia into leaving the Unadilla Valley music department (and those Hudsons!) behind to join me up here, and I’m pleased to report she’s fallen for my ruse the whole way. We were married in August 2007 – Jeff was my best man, natch – and soon after, we purchased a house that is way too big for a couple. (We’re hoping to soon fill that space with some living thing besides our impish kitten.)
I cover county government for the paper, a sort of Melissa deCordova for the fastest-growing county in New York. I also strong-armed the paper into being the guy who calls former Watertown resident Viggo Mortensen to talk about his new film or an award he’s received. He’s very generous with his time, so we often end up talking about politics or the New York Mets, two topics I am very opinionated about.
We also have a Progress edition here at the paper. With 21 reporters, my contribution is far less than the dozens of stories I somehow pieced together for this paper.
And while that left me plenty of free time to mug for the cameras of Women’s Entertainment, I’m sad to report they recently changed their minds about wanting me.
Seriously, what did Andy Warhol know about anything anyway?