By Liz, embracing fall and the onslaught of pumpkin spice everything!
I’ve always been fascinated by the mob.
I mean the Italian mob from the old days – the pasta-eating, fraudulent waste-management, knee-breaking type of mob. (As an Italian, I feel like I can say that.)
Of course The Sopranos was one of my favorite shows. My father was mortified that I would watch something that, in his mind, portrayed Italians so poorly. I just thought, hey, this is a part of our heritage. Let’s embrace it. And who doesn’t love Tony Soprano, despite his clear and many flaws?
During the last season of the show, I was working as a reporter for a daily paper in Connecticut. My editor knew how much I – and much of the population that read the paper – loved it and decided to capitalize on it. He asked if I would write a column after every episode as we counted down to the end of the series.
I was thrilled to do it. Even more thrilled when I got to interview two of the stars – Steve Schirripa, who played Bobby Bacala, and Joe Gannascoli, who played Vito Spatafore – for a follow-up piece. Alas, I never got to talk the James Gandolfini, but they were good close seconds.
It was one of my favorite moments of my journalism career.
Honestly, though? There were many favorite moments of that career. And most of them didn’t have to do with TV stars.
There were the everyday people, like the unofficial “mayor” of our city, a local man who sat on his front stoop downtown every day and offered kind, wise words to everyone who passed. When he died, the whole city mourned this man who, to some, seemed like just someone experiencing homelessness – but in reality he brought his whole, rich past to that stoop.
There was the town historian who had a fondness for the “real story” of Benedict Arnold and fought for his redemption.
There was the developer who survived The Station fire in Rhode Island and saved multiple people that night.
There was crime. There were stories of political divides. Arguments about development in the city. Fear of change. The stories of many lives.
Being a reporter changed my life in so many ways. It made me a better listener. A better interviewer. A better writer AND a better storyteller. I got life skills that I still use today. I believe that curiosity and the ability to ask the right questions are some of the most valuable things I could ever learn.
Journalism has changed a lot over the last 15 years. I’m glad I got out when I did, and I so respect the people who are still in it, and in it for the right reasons.
And I’ll be always grateful for the time I spent running around town with that little reporter’s notebook, documenting those moments in time.
Readers, do you have a job or an experience on which you’ll always look back fondly? Tell me in the comments!