Daily Archives: June 9, 2010

Remembering The Old Bebopper Of Boston

Published June 9, 2010

Boston’s NPR News Station wasn’t always. For a fleeting decade, Boston was an American jazz center, and Tony Cennamo was at the center of that center. Cennamo was a WBUR jazz announcer for 25 years, starting in the early 1970s, continuing, on nights, in the 1980s, when WBUR became an NPR station, and into the late 1990s.

Tony died Tuesday after a long illness. He was 76. His wife, Carine Kolb, wrote and sent us this obituary:

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The Universal Passion Of World Cup Soccer

Published June 9, 2010

I was living in San Diego’s (very) Little Italy four years ago, when Italy prevailed over France in the World Cup and every person of Italian descent, myself included, went ballistic. Though I’m no soccer fanatic, I couldn’t help but revel in the joy of the day.

German fans showed their national colors against Argentina in the 2006 World Cup. (Curt Nickisch/WBUR)

German fans showed their national colors against Argentina in the 2006 World Cup. (Curt Nickisch/WBUR)

That final game was played in Germany, where reporter and soccer football geek Curt Nickisch was on assignment. He had the good fortune of covering the Cup for Only A Game.

“It was the most fun I had in my life,” Curt told me. “Americans have this completely wrong impression about international soccer, hooligans and whatnot. It was a love fest. I hung out with Italian fans for hours before our two teams went at it. There was no animosity afterward, either.”

Germany might not have won gold, but Curt witnessed something extraordinary there: Germans coming together, perhaps for the first time in decades, in a moment of national pride. (He blogs about the World Cup’s “true trophy” today on his Web site.)

“I never bought a flag before. I don’t know why, but I never did it,” one man said to Curt at a biergarten in Munich. “And now you see a flag on every third or fourth car. It’s really nice to see. … It’s hard to explain in words. A lot of emotion in it.”

In a country once ruled by the Third Reich, nationalism was taboo. When Germany played Argentina in ’06, many Germans didn’t even know the words to their national anthem — the lyrics were published on the front page of Bild, the national tabloid.

“I’m a bit of a patriot myself,” Curt told me, “and it’s a treat to recognize that same quality — pride in your home — in so many other people from so many other places. The political and cultural undercurrents to the contests are just so much richer than a professional sporting event in the United States.”

He continued: “You have no idea how crazy the world is for this. The URINALS in Germany had little soccer nets in them with a ball swinging from the crossbar. I’ve never been anywhere or seen anything where there was such a passion so universally shared by so many people.”

Now the Cup moves to South Africa, another venue fraught with symbolism, and Curt will be watching. He joins Only A Game host Bill Littlefield on today’s Radio Boston for a World Cup preview, including where you can watch the games here in Boston.

So What's A Jake?

Published June 9, 2010

OK, so what’s a “jake?” I had never heard this word for firefighter until I moved to Boston, where the slang is regularly splashed on the Herald’s front pages.

I called my friend Grant Barrett, a respected slanguist and the co-host of public radio’s A Way With Words, for an explanation.

“That’s a big fat origin unknown,” he said, to my disappointment. He did pose a few possibilities:

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Jakes Have A Deal: Contract Explained

Published June 9, 2010

Boston’s jakes finally have a deal that both the City Council and the mayor are OK with. I just talked with Fred Thys to distill the important details:

  • Firefighters get an 18 percent raise over five years.
  • The contract covers fiscal 2006 to 2011. That means most of the raise is retroactive. Yup, the contract they settled on after four years of fighting is about to expire.
  • That 18 percent raise includes a 1.5 percent raise (down from 2.5 percent) in exchange for random drug testing. This quid pro quo is the most controversial aspect of the arbitration. Critics — including many commenters on wbur.org — ask: Why should firefighters get paid extra to show up sober?
  • The drug testing won’t start till next fiscal year, which starts July 1, 2011.
  • All firefighters will have to undergo physical exams. Future firefighters (but not current ones) will have to undergo physical fitness tests.
  • The City Council still has to vote to approve the deal tonight. All but Councilor Chuck Turner say they will vote yes. The City Council ratified the deal this afternoon.

More coverage from the Globe, Herald.

OK, so what’s a “jake?” Watch for my next post.