Fawkes is the name of the Phoenix (a bird) in Harry Potter. He lives in Dumbledore’s office. In a story, that like Fawkes, has several births and deaths of its own, the Boston Globe today reported that the Boston Phoenix would be shutting its doors, effective immediately.
Stephen Mindich, on the BostonPhoenix.com confirmed the report. It was sad that the paper shut down, after such a great long run. Especially surprising too, since they had recently undergone a redesign from newsprint to a glossy magazine format. I wasn’t a fan of the change, but I understand it was part of trying to stay alive—part of the changing landscape the Internet hath wrought.
While it is not more painful to lose the Boston Phoenix than it was to have lost the great movie theaters of Boston, or even the Borders book chain, it is quite a shocking jolt for those of us who worked there. Within two hours of the posting, Phoenix alumni had taken to the boards, toasting, roasting and suggesting various spots for reunions—including Aku-Aku, an incredibly tacky Chinese restaurant that briefly lived across the street, and was a respite for the sales team.
For me, The Boston Phoenix was not only my first “real” job, but it was where I learned what I wanted to do with my life. And that was to be a writer. After sweating through nearly two years as classified ad salesman—which can’t adequately described in a single blog post— I got my first ever paid gig as newspaper writer. On February 15, 1991— the Boston Phoenix published my first article, a brief write up of a toy store on Newbury Street. (click to see the actual article, above). Prior to children, that was perhaps the proudest day of my life, and to this day, it was the sweetest $50 bucks I ever made. Of course, it wasn’t the kind of journalism that the Boston Phoenix won awards for— but it was writing on newsprint, and as an ink-stained wretch, it was a dream come true.
There is so much to be thankful to Stephen Mindich for. He started my career (and two years later also fired me). He gave me some of my first breaks. And at the Phoenix I met several great friends, who through the magic of Facebook, I am still friends with today. Among them all, Courtney Wayshak was the king. He ruled the roost at the Boston Phoenix classifieds office like no one else. He taught me about life, encouraged me to write, and spent nearly every day with me at either the Pool Hall (Boston Billiards), the Pizza Place (Il Giardino) or just smoking cigarettes outside of 126 Brookline Avenue. Sadly, he died September 2012, and his obit is here. It’s too bad, because I would have wanted to read his obit of the Boston Phoenix most of all.
So we say “Long Live the Phoenix,” but isn’t the Phoenix the mythical beast that rises from the ashes? Perhaps it will surprise us with a second act.