The stormy past

Brother Lives on in a Nephew He Never Met

by Bill Brenner January 12, 2015 The stormy past

Thirty-one years ago this week, my older brother Michael died at age 17. I felt the need to write something to mark the anniversary. But to be honest, I didn’t know what to say. Part of that is because I wrote the whole “how his death affected me” post three years ago in “Death of a Sibling.” I also delved into the lighter memories — the outrageous and hilarious shit he used to pull —…  [Read More]

The Sister Who Saved Her Family

by Bill Brenner December 28, 2014 Family

My youngest sister, Shira Beth Brenner, was born 29 years ago today, sending rays of sunshine into a house that was in darkness. You might think it’s hyperbole for me to say she saved the family. We were surviving, after all. But we were surviving badly, reeling from the death of my brother barely two years before. Shira helped us smile again. Mood music: I was a bitter 15-year-old home sick with the flu and a Crohn’s…  [Read More]

The Lost Generation of Revere, Mass.

by Bill Brenner November 22, 2014 Addiction

An old friend from the Point of Pines, Revere, sent me a note some time ago. He came across my post on Zane Mead and another on the Bridge Rats gang. For him, they brought up more memories of kids from the neighborhood who died young. Mood music: I’ll keep his name and certain details out to protect his privacy, but here’s some of what he wrote to me: I came across your piece in…  [Read More]

A Sick Mind, A Tragic Situation

by Bill Brenner September 18, 2014 The stormy past

A few years ago I wrote about childhood friend Mark Hedgecock, who at the time was a thrice-convicted pedophile who was chatting up young girls on Facebook. He got kicked off Facebook shortly thereafter, and I lost track of him. Unfortunately, his name has surfaced again. Mood music: He’s been accused of soliciting and collecting child porn through his email account. According to, the AG’s office was tipped off by the National Center for Missing…  [Read More]

5 Reasons We Should Give Monica Lewinsky a Break

by Bill Brenner May 12, 2014 The stormy past

Monica Lewinsky is back in the news. Sixteen years after she became a household name for her relationship with then-President Bill Clinton, the former White House intern has decided to speak out in the latest issue of Vanity Fair. Mood music: You’ve heard about the blue dress, the oral sex in the Oval Office, the attempt by Republicans to impeach Clinton over the affair — specifically his attempts to cover it up. Lewinsky addresses those…  [Read More]

The Danger of False Memories

by Bill Brenner February 12, 2014 The stormy past

Since this blog is part memoir, I worry about misremembering the past when I write about it. I’m obsessed with truth and recall things to the best of my recollection. But I know that for every memory I share, someone out there will remember things differently. A Daily Beast article reminds me that I’m right to be obsessive about honesty. Mood music: The article notes how terrifyingly easy it is for therapists and investigators to…  [Read More]

Is the Point of Pines of My Generation Cursed?

by Bill Brenner November 19, 2013 The stormy past

A friend from my old neighborhood opined a couple years ago that our generation of Revere kids lived under a curse. “The more time moves on, I think we may be lucky for just getting out of the city,” he told me in an email. “Revere was just eating people up back then. It’s like we lost a generation.” Mood music: The death tally boggles the mind: Stefanie Santarpio died last week at age 36…  [Read More]

Another Point of Pines Tragedy

by Bill Brenner November 18, 2013 The stormy past

For the second time since October 1, something terrible has happened to people that were part of my childhood orbit. Last month, my old friend TJ committed suicide, hours before his father died of leukemia. This past week, the sister and mother of another childhood friend both died within a couple days of each other: The sister died from complications with pneumonia. and then the mother suffered a fatal aneurysm. Mood music: The latter case is…  [Read More]

Human Tourniquets And Freaks Who Love Them

by Bill Brenner March 29, 2013 Communication skills for the crazy

I originally wrote this three years ago. Looking at it again, it’s an important post describing a time when not even best friends were safe from my insanity. I’ve updated it for the present.  Mood music: [spotify:track:2YGwSRjcY4Hjz6fktW9619] You know the type. They hang  out with people who act more like abusive spouses than friends. They are human tourniquets. They absorb the pain of their tormentor daily and without complaint. This is the story of the…  [Read More]

Don’t Go Away Mad

by Bill Brenner March 28, 2013 Gratitude

A funny thing happens when people share stories of the not-so-happy moments of their lives: You walk away thinking they’ve experienced nothing but tragedy. In reality, there are plenty of uneventful pages in between the drama. Mood music: One time I was asked to tell my story at a 12-Step meeting. Under the format, you tell your story for about 15 minutes. The first five cover the speaker’s ugly path to addiction, the second five focuses…  [Read More]