More on Jack Hardy, and Journalistic Preconceptions

There was a nice piece at the New York Times online about some people getting together for a Monday night songwriter’s meeting/farewell to Jack.

The write-up had a link to a 1999 NYT article on the meetings.

I had forgotten about the article. It wasn’t a bad piece, but the reporter was stuck on the idea of having to give everyone’s age and occupation. I thought that was odd and unimportant. What was important was the reason for being there, art and song.

And, not that you can tell from the article, I was there. It happened to be the one time during that period when I tried to write a song. I wrote some lyrics and sent them to Mike Laureanno, who worked on them and came up with a melody. I also happened to have brought a copy of Back Brain Recluse, which had recently accepted my story, “Tales of the Golden Legend” (as I’ve said elsewhere, the story never came out in the magazine, but appeared later in The Third Alternative; the issue of Back Brain Recluse that I had there turned out to be the last). It was a funky magazine, with lots of art, and stories laid out in sometimes hard-to-read ways. Having the magazine, being a fiction writer at a songwriter’s meeting, illustrated Jack’s desire to include everyone, his love of interdisciplinary aesthetics.

But here’s what the reporter said: “Michael Laureanno, 38, an electrical engineer who drove nearly four hours from Wakefield, R.I., tried out a tune he co-wrote, via E-mail, with a friend from western Massachusetts.”

I’m not trying to be petty about my name being omitted. It’s the bad journalism that bothers me. I have a journalism degree so I know some things. What I think happened is that the reporter had already decided what the article was about, and my existence didn’t fit. The story would have been a better if he had written about what was there.

Somewhat connected bit. Here’s an excerpt from a Suzanne Vega documentary, showing one of the songwriter meetings in Jack’s apartment. Funny New York bit at the beginning–she’s riding in the back of a cab, looking at the camera and talking, the driver turns down the wrong street.


Jack Hardy, Gone

Jack Hardy and daughter Morgan, July 2006

Friday (March 11) for naptime, Merida, my three-year-old, wanted to listen to “Willie Goggin’s Hat” from Jack Hardy’s CD The Passing. As usual, she asked if he would sing it when he comes to visit. She also wanted him to do her other favorites, “Sile Na Cioch (Sheila),” “The Boney Bailiff,” “May Day,” “Blackberry Pie.” She says that about Ringo Starr and “Yellow Submarine” too, but with Jack it’s different. She’s seen the pictures of him at Rebecca and my wedding. She knows he’s been in our house.

Once she was asleep, I went to my computer. I looked at Facebook, which I hadn’t done in a couple of days. Someone had tagged Jack in a photo. I clicked on it, and was about to close the window when I saw that whoever had posted it had put dates, 1947-2011. I thought that was an odd way to date a photo. I looked at it again. Maybe it had Friday’s date—I can’t remember…I was starting to realize…I literally felt a clenching in my stomach. (This is one of the feelings that is difficult to convey in fiction without drifting into cliché.) But I felt it. I went to his Facebook page and saw the posts.

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