Ye Olde Blogge is about to go into cold storage. It shall remain intact, but as long as I serve as political columnist for Seven Days, I won’t be posting new material here.
A farewell message will follow. But first I’m exercising a bit of Blogger’s Privilege and posting a shameless plug for my book, which has nothing to do with Vermont politics. Indeed, it stems from an entirely different chapter in my life.
From 2000 to 2005 I worked at New Hampshire Public Radio as a news anchor, reporter, and host of a daily interview show. “The Front Porch” was resolutely unpolitical. Its tagline was “Interesting people from New Hampshire” — by which I meant the NHPR listening area, including parts of Vermont, Maine, and Massachusetts.
When I launched the show, the joking response was, “So how long before you run out of interesting people in New Hampshire?” My answer, timidly at first but with more conviction as time went on, was ‘I honestly don’t think we ever will.”
And I was right.
All kinds of people make for interesting conversation. Authors, artists, musicians, academics… but also just plain people with unique interests (a guy who filled his house and garage with rare early television sets, a retired gym teacher who became a living legend in New England contra dance) or experiences (an archeologist who had a real-life Indiana Jones experience in discovering an ancient civilization, a star pop singer from the 1950s enjoying a late-career renaissance). Some created vibrant, exciting lives out of the ashes of injury, disease or loss. A few are well-known (Will Ackerman, Dan Brown, Wolf Kahn), but most are not.
In my more radical moments I was convinced that every single person was a potential guest. Not really true, but the varieties of human experience are vast and infinite.
The show, and my radio career, each ran their course. I became a freelance writer. Soon enough, a publisher expressed interest in having me write a collection of stories about some of my favorite guests on “The Front Porch.”
That book, “Roads Less Traveled: Visionary New England Lives,” was published in 2010 and is still in print. It can be ordered through your local bookstore, from the publisher, or directly from me. All avenues are described on the author website I still maintain (with insufficient diligence, but it’s still there).
In its pages, you will meet some incredible people. A few examples:
— A man who suffered a near-fatal brain injury in a crash that killed his new bride; eventually he won a huge injury settlement, which he used to create a welcoming space for people with traumatic brain injuries.
— A Hollywood actress in the 30s and 40s who then turned to screenwriting. Her best known script is the original version of “The Blob,” starring a very young Steve McQueen.
— A Soviet emigre who became an Orthodox priest after coming to America. He ended up serving at a parish in Claremont, New Hampshire; his parishioners included Alexander Solzhenitsyn. Oh, did I mention that he is a renowned creator of icons, the images used in Orthodox worship?
— A middle-aged couple who met and fell in love while working on the Clamshell Alliance, the movement that tried to stop the Seabrook nuclear reactor.
— An artist who worked without recognition until his mid-50s, when he decided to close up shop and realized there was a huge demand for his paintings. His “going out of business” sale was the beginning of his successful golden years.
— A pioneering writer on food and nutrition, considered a fringe thinker in the 1950s and 60s, and lived into her 90s — long enough to see the world catch up to her ideas.
— A former Catholic nun who left the convent and went into goat farming. She became a noted producer of artisanal cheese, and an advocate for other small cheese producers.
There are about two dozen profiles in the book. All the subjects are worth knowing. You can see more about the book and read excerpts from each chapter at the above-mentioned, slightly rusty website.
Thanks for your time. Back shortly with a farewell.