Tuesday, January 24, 2017

The Devine Book

Susan Devine Napoli is my first cousin, and I couldn't be more pleased that someone in the family has finally written this book. It was long a goal of her father, Professor John E. Devine, to produce some sort of family history, and now his daughter Susan has fulfilled her father's dream. Ours is hardly an aristocratic family, with more than a few proverbial horse thieves to be found perched in the family tree, but it is also a story of one family's brave struggle to make it in America under sometimes very unfavorable circumstances. Yet, sometimes even the less than flattering facts are welcome because, as my cousin says at one point, "The truth is always better than the silence."

I had always believed that my family came to this country from Ireland around 1880, but my cousin's book reveals that it was a half century earlier, in 1832. Wow, the Devine's have been in America for nearly two centuries and we're still broke!

This book is also a good starter guide for anyone who wishes to research their own family background. Devine-Napoli details the process which she used to unearth her family history, offering tips that anyone engaged in the same historical endeavor would find useful. Of course, the nature of family history research is such that the more one learns, the more questions are raised. Despite that conundrum, future family researchers of the Devine saga will be forever grateful to Susan Devine Napoi for this foundational effort from which all future family historical inquiries will begin.

To order your copy click here.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Year in Review

Well, another year done gone, and while some have claimed it was a lousy year, I found 2016 to be quite a creative success. In any case, now is a good time time to review the progress of my various online projects over the past year:

Baystate Objectivist and The Tumblr - Since 2013 the most steady source of new material presented by me has been through my Baystate Objectivist Tumblr, which features mostly memes from various sources and assorted photography by myself and others, along with an occasional short essay. The Tumblr is a great medium, primarily because it allows me to easily cover a wide range of topics on a daily basis. However, Tumblr is less than ideal for presenting longer pieces of writing. Therefore, I've decided to change the name of the Tumblr to Tumblin Thomas and revive the Baystate Objectivist Archives, which after the switch to Tumblr became the permanent repository for all my pre-Tumblr posts. That, of course, is the website you are on right now, and which has now become the official Baystate Objectivist website once again. The Tumblr will still continue on a daily basis with memes and such, especially my so-called pic-poems.

Pic-Poems are those little vignettes I create about once a week where there is a line of prose, followed by a related picture, which go along in a series that sorta tells a story in words, pictures and video. This artistic form has no known name, so I made up the term pic-poem. Perhaps a better term will come along, just like the first time I heard the word blog and then realized that what I had been doing all along had an actual term to describe it. The pic-poem is based on my theory that if poets of the past had access to the technology we have today, the poems of Whitman, Yeats and the other great poets of yesterday would probably have been accompanied by photos and videos to illustrate each line.

While my free verse poetic efforts are extremely modest, the pic-poems are among my most popular features based on the audience feedback I get. To see a typical example of a pic-poem click here. Anyway, memes, photos and pic-poems will continue to appear on the Tumblr on a regular basis, but my more serious writing will be mostly appearing here. So stop by and see what's new on this site and visit the Tumblr regularly as well.

The Ogulewicz Chronicles - One Man's Journey Through Springfield Politics - One of my accomplishments of 2016 which pleases me the most is the revival of The Ogulewicz Chronicles. Originally published in installments in 1999 as our Valley's first piece of serial online journalism, the Chronicles consist of the political memoirs of former 1980's three-term Springfield City Councilor Mitch Ogulewicz. The Chronicles were out of print by 2006, although specific episodes of the series continued to be available scattered across the web.

Last year, I revised, updated and added 40 videos to accompany the re-released Chronicles, with the videos adding a whole new dimension where you can read Mitch's take on events, then observe how those same issues were presented in the local media. The Chronicles cover 1983 to 1989, a key period in Valley history where many of the decisions were made that would lead to Springfield's economic and political problems in the following decades. Happily, The Ogulewicz Chronicles are now back online and remain essential reading and viewing for all who want a clear understanding of our Valley's political scene today.

The Diary of J. Wesley Miller - Alternative History of the Pioneer Valley - Since 2011 I have been releasing entries from this legendary diary on a weekly basis. Over the nearly six years it has been slowing oozing into existence, the Diary has evolved into one of the largest and most important historical databases in the Pioneer Valley. Featuring behind the scenes looks at our Valley's most powerful and important figures as they were experienced by radical Attorney J. Wesley Miller, often in informal and personal encounters, the Diary provides an endlessly rich mix of politics, law, local history and insights into Miller's own very unusual personal life. As massive as the diary already is, there is much more to come and a lot of it is even better than the jaw dropping revelations, shout out loud humor and gripping personal dramas that have already been unveiled. For example, wait until we get to the years when Mother is alive....

You can check out the Diary here.

And so it goes. Each of these projects will continue to evolve in the coming year, as well as a few new projects I'll be telling you about soon.