I hope that this week’s Dig offers a different kind of year-end roundup than people will find elsewhere. Our reporters and editors have compiled an array of unique lists with highlights from 2018, all meant for those who care about what happens in their New England backyard.
Our goonish president gets mentioned a few times in our news roundup, but only in how his destructive bigotry has touched issues like immigration that ring loudly here in Mass. Otherwise, this is your source for salutations and superlatives of the local variety.
No outlet can cover everything. It’s not worth trying. But in reading back through several hundred pieces that we published in the past 12 months, I’m more than satisfied to say that we hit hard and often on a range of topics, and did so in a fashion unseen on the five o’clock news. From arcane findings that our journos unearthed for the first time, to more popular subjects that had been covered inadequately (in our opinion, of course), we hit a significantly broad spectrum—the alleged grand bargain agreement between lawmakers, labor, and business; a disastrous scene in Boston Public Schools; the baffling enduring popularity of Gov. Charlie Baker despite his push to privatize as many state duties and services that can possibly be ripped clean from government; and so on, and so on, and so on.
I also wanted to leave some space to honor those we lost. From your cousin, former classmate, or grandparent who passed, to Paul Manafort, to celebrities who hopefully had friends and family members who actually loved them, as opposed to morning talk show gossip mongers who don’t care about them for a second longer than their toxicology report will help drive clicks and likes. I know the rapper Mac Miller, for one, was the truth; the kid had heart and worked to earn respect from icons and his peers alike. But while I’m sure that Miller, Stan Lee, Aretha Franklin, and some other major names will have whole wells of ink spilled about their departures, I’ll finish this remembrance with a few names that may not register on mainstream radars.
We have to tip a 40 mourning Stephen Mindich, the publisher and mastermind behind the Boston Phoenix and WFNX, among other major feats. Stephen was a bulldog in both business and debate, and by any measure is one of the most pivotal figures in the history of alt Mass media. As was Peter Simon, the gifted photographer who launched his career during the golden era of alternative press and cut his teeth snapping the first pics that were seen Stateside of Jamaican reggae legends like Bob Marley.
In other journalism news, the Hub lost hardass Jon Klarfeld, who in his time at Boston University dragged nearly half the hacks in New England through his torturous mock city room boot camp.
Lastly, while this was a great year for the Wu-Tang Clan, which celebrated their 25th anniversary in 2018 (though not a Boston story, this one was big for me personally, as I wrote a book with RZA about the group’s debut album leading up to the silver occasion), it wasn’t so great for the underrated Lord Superb, a former Wu affiliate who claimed to secretly pen rhymes for several rappers. At 41, Superb was far too young to become an actual ghost writer, just like it is still a nightmare for a lot of people on the Boston music scene to fathom never again getting to hear DJ On&On crack jokes from behind the turntables at a club or bar downtown. Life may go on, and on, and on, but for the communities that he and countless others whom we lost belonged to, things will never be the same.
CHRIS FARAONE, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF
A Queens, NY native who came to New England in 2004 to earn his MA in journalism at Boston University, Chris Faraone is the editor and co-publisher of DigBoston and a co-founder of the Boston Institute for Nonprofit Journalism. He has published several books including 99 Nights with the 99 Percent, and has written liner notes for hip-hop gods including Cypress Hill, Pete Rock, Nas, and various members of the Wu-Tang Clan.