THE LONGEST RUNNING TV SHOW

For 31 years, there was a series on Channel 7 in Boston. It was my favorite show. I watched it any day I could get home from work in time. It was on several times a day, five days a week. The first performance often aired during the pre-dawn hours, while the final day’s episode might air long after most people had finished dinner and many had gone to bed.

It was “good stuff.” Garry Armstrong was a smart, thorough reporter who cared about Boston and its people. He knew everyone and they knew him. He makes jokes about being trusted … but he was trusted because he had proved he could be. He had sources. He checked with them. He knew when the a story wasn’t “right” and he was cynical about politicians and big money.

Watching Garry kept me informed about events taking place in my neighborhood, the city, and the region. I also got follow-up and background information over dinner — sometimes quite different than what had been aired. There was stuff you could broadcast, and there was stuff that he and other reporters “knew,” but couldn’t prove.

It was sometimes difficult to reconcile the star of the TV show with the tired, crabby guy who came home expecting dinner, a newspaper, and when we were lucky, a baseball game. I always knew how the star’s day had gone. I taped his pieces so he could see them when he got home. Although he covered stories, wrote them, and performed, he didn’t see them as finished pieces unless I taped them.

I watched the news as I also watched him deal with violence and the calamities that are a constant in every reporter’s life. He never got used to it. Garry was, in a regional way — a celebrity. I was the celebrity’s wife — a very different role. My job was often to be there and smile. Television “people” don’t pay much attention to anyone who isn’t part of their habitat. At a good event, I got fed too.  I even got to wear ball gowns occasionally and I met some people I would never have normally encountered in my life.

Garry covered, or was involved with, virtually every major event in New England for his run of 31 years. From the great to the tragic, he was there.

Garry and I at President Clinton's party on Martha's Vineyard

Garry and I at President Clinton’s party on Martha’s Vineyard

We have one of Garry’s three Emmy awards on a shelf behind the TV, but virtually no tape of anything that happened. I don’t remember who found the piece below, but it’s a rare viewing of him doing normal work on a normal day in the news biz. Garry’s segment appears at about 1 minute and 30 seconds into the noon news. You can fast forward and skip the intro or choose to watch from the top of the show.

That was a “live shot.”

Time passes. It’s good to have something tangible to remember. Lucky me, I still have the star himself.

On September 12, 2013, Garry Armstrong was inducted into the Massachusetts Broadcasting Hall of Fame.

We keep the plaque on the mantel. His one remaining Emmy (Channel 7 lost the other two) is on a shelf that Owen built, along with his Kauff award and one other big one, the name of which I have forgotten. Amazing the things you forget even though at some point in your life, you couldn’t imagine ever forgetting something that important. His “Silver Circle” Lifetime Emmy hangs on the wall, too and there are other awards here and there in the house.

What is important changes over time. As time marches along, life and day-to-day events become more important than whatever career you had — except on days when the guys get together to remember.

That more or less wraps it up. I think it’s going to rain today.

OOZING TO KILL

OOZE


It oozed beneath the door and consumed anyone in its way. The teenagers — Steve McQueen’s first movie (billed as Steven McQueen) — warned the grown-ups, but they wouldn’t listen to the kids. It oozed everywhere, growing bigger and oozier with each passing moment.

The Blob. It came. It consumed. It oozed. And eventually, was destroyed.

Keep watching the skies … but don’t forget to look under your door!

KEEP YOUR MONKEYS

Nazis strutting their stuff in America? Street violence? An insane president marching us backwards through time? Today I watched the white supremacists get swamped by the protesters in Boston. They had every cop in Boston out there, not to mention every TV reporter — in a pool, no less. One announcer said she thought the WS had made a speech, but no one heard it and anyway, they’d given up and gone home. After that, it was more of a picnic and less of a demonstration.

To put it musically, Boston ain’t their kind of town. I am grateful for small favors.

This is not by any means the first violent time through which I’ve lived. At my age, you’ve been through Korea, Vietnam, Afghanistan, a variety of Lebanese adventures, a few strange wars in central and South America. Minor war in Grenada. Let’s not forget eastern and central Europe and the cities I still can’t spell or pronounce. Don’t forget Africa, either.

Ferdinand, the Bull

I’m sure I’m missing at least a dozen more places where we’ve sent troops to fight. I’m not sure what the fighting was about. I may have known at the time — or thought I knew — but it’s years later and you could tell me anything and I’d look at you like you have two heads — or believe you — because your answer is as good as any other.

I am clueless in a world full of violence and danger, where congress is made up of spineless wimps and the president is probably a right-wing fascist.

I remember the rioting in many major American big cities in the sixties and seventies. The explosion at the federal building in Oklahoma City. 9/11. I know what happened, thought I’m unsure why. The Muslim far right hates us, so they blow shit up. Well, the American right-wing hates me too … and I wonder how long before they start blowing things up? Why not? They’ve got the President on their side. Where’s that underground bunker when I need it?

Nothing makes sense any more. I need a time out.

I don’t want to go deep into the past. Who’d want to go far back anyway? It wasn’t less violent and it was a lot more primitive. I want to go back … maybe a few years? Would that be okay? Take me to a respite between riots and racial violence and American Nazis. A short space between local or non-local terrorists. To a minuscule interval — maybe during Obama’s presidency — when I could watch the news and not see the world going to hell.

I want a brave old world in which everything isn’t crumbling. Where all the good I thought we’d done wasn’t falling down as I watch. A time in which we hadn’t elected this horrifying asshole as president. Where lawmakers enacted laws and there was a reason why stuff happened.

I’m still half hoping that “now” is a terrible nightmare. Soon, I will wake up. The world will (again) be a place I recognize.

Is that too much to ask?