January 2015

The Great Chelsea Fire of 1973

by Bill Brenner January 30, 2015 The stormy past

Before the family business was in Saugus, MA, it was in Chelsea, MA. That is, until the Second Great Chelsea Fire in 1973. On October 14, 1973, 18 city blocks of Chelsea were destroyed by conflagration. At the center was Chelsea’s Rag District, a densely packed area of buildings that stored paper and textile scrap for the junk and recycling industry. The wood-framed buildings were old and rundown. With winds of up to 50 MPH…  [Read More]

Cool Documentaries of New England’s Blizzard of ’78

by Bill Brenner January 29, 2015 The stormy past

I’ve written before about how the Blizzard of 1978 started me down a long path of fear and anxiety. With the 37th anniversary next month, I’ve started watching documentaries on the event. Here’s are two good ones from my local news stations. Check out a young Gov. Mike Dukakis and weather forecaster Harvey Leonard.

Want Cheese With That Whine?

by Bill Brenner January 28, 2015 Adventures in writing

A few weeks back, a reader suggested that I whine a lot. She said I’m badly depressed and need more help than I’m getting. She’s not the first person to misunderstand the purpose of this blog. Mood music: For those who don’t know by now, I started this blog because writing is powerful therapy. When you type out your feelings on paper or in a forum like this, it’s very freeing. You don’t keep stuff…  [Read More]

The Only Way Out Of The Fog Is Through It

by Bill Brenner January 28, 2015 Coping tools

We all go through it: Something upsets us so much that we go into a fog; unable to function when we’re still required to do so. It rises up like a brick wall. Mood music: We smash into it a few too many times and go through the rest of the day dazed and confused. It’s a natural reaction to life’s more stressful and traumatic moments. If a loved one is sick or dead, or…  [Read More]

God Bless Cousin Melanie

by Bill Brenner January 27, 2015 Courage

I’ve always looked up to my cousin Melanie Segal. She’s been through a medical grind that would make a lot of people understandably bitter. But that’s not how she operates. Mood music: Through kidney and liver problems, she has lived her life with smiles, grace and good humor. Not once have I heard her complain about her medical difficulties. You never see her on Facebook complaining about her lot in life, either. In fact, I’ve seen her on…  [Read More]

For Parents With Kids Freaked About Winter Storms

by Bill Brenner January 25, 2015 Children's issues

With a blizzard in the New England forecast this week and next month’s 37th anniversary of the Blizzard of 1978, I thought this might be of use: Mood music: I got a message awhile back from a mom who reads this blog regularly. I’ll keep her anonymous but share some details of the note: “My son, only 7, has suffered from pretty severe anxieties about weather over the past 3 or so years. It took me…  [Read More]

Kurt Cobain’s Suicide Note on a T-Shirt

by Bill Brenner January 22, 2015 Dealing with life

Online marketplace Etsy caused a kerfuffle recently by selling shirts emblazoned with the suicide note of the late Kurt Cobain. Etsy and other e-commerce sites have since pulled the shirts from their virtual shelves, but the big question remains: Who in their right mind would wear such a thing? Mood music: To be fair, some would wear it to make a statement about depression. But most kids just want to shock people. I know, because…  [Read More]

This Song Isn’t What You Thought It Was

by Bill Brenner January 21, 2015 Lighthearted

In the 1990s, the band Semisonic had a hit with the song “Closing Time.” I always thought it was about closing time at a bar. Pretty much everyone did. But according to singer-guitarist Dan Wilson, it’s about something far different. Enjoy this video as he breaks it down verse by verse.

The Business Is Over, But Its Legacy Lives On

by Bill Brenner January 20, 2015 Dealing with life

Those who knew me growing up remember the family business, especially the blue-and-gold building on Route 1 in Saugus across from Kappy’s Liquors. The business is closed, but it leaves a lasting legacy. Mood music: I’ve been helping my father manage the realty trust that’s been part of the family business, with the objective of selling the building. His eyesight is bad, so I frequently read documents aloud to him. Yesterday was one of those…  [Read More]

MLK on the Hole in Your Soul

by Bill Brenner January 19, 2015 Inspiration

This being the day we celebrate the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., I thought it appropriate to share 10 favorite quotes from the man. He didn’t just lead the way on Civil Rights. He led the way on addressing that hole in the soul that caused people to be full of racism and rage to begin with. It’s that same hole that turns many of us into addicts and bullies. May…  [Read More]