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For the record

May 21, 2008 - LLee Janssen

Returned to the office this week, a bit on the tired side from a week of relaxation around the young ones.

Not that there's much relaxation involved in a 17-hour wait near the Baltimore airport (thanks, Amanda and My, for the comfort your apartment provided, just 20 minutes away) for the military transport that brought home Chris from southwest Asia. Just like Uncle Sam, hurry up and wait.

Then there was the promise to be in Stroudsburg to pick up Dana, and he too had to wait as the 17-hour domino effect was well in process. But his wait was much shorter, a mere matter of minutes, comparatively speaking.

And then the long sleep. Intermingled with welcome-home cookouts, farewell-again dinners, lessons on how to play Guitar Hero, friends, family, more friends and then the wonder over how quickly a week can disappear.

They are my life, those two sons who've become amazing young men. Those two boys who grew up here in Williamsport and whom I now see returning home and even appreciating aspects of small-town life they took for granted in their earlier years.

And then there is my other life, that as news editor who is grateful to be around people of all backgrounds and ages, both colleagues and those of you in the community whom I've been fortunate enough to meet and get to know.

I heard it said many years ago that it's difficult to work and live in the same community. In many ways, that is true. It was difficult years ago when fire struck my parents' and brother's business while my dad was in the hospital undergoing heart surgery. I couldn't stop the front-page news. I've had colleagues who have had unfortunate problems, and they couldn't keep the news from hitting the appropriate columns. The news is the news, regardless of who you are and where you work.

I returned to work this week and took a hit. I was called cheap as my son is involved with something really incredible and was included in a page-one preview of Les 100 Guitares: G100, which is being presented at 7:30 Friday at the Community Arts Center. For the record, I knew this was being planned six months ago, but I have stayed out of the publicity circle, not even mentioning it around the office. Believe it or not, I keep a lot of secrets when asked by my boys.

In fact, the first reference to it in the Sun-Gazette was made during a meeting with our Lifestyle and Entertainment staff and Rob Steele, the Arts Center director, over the center's desire to get Sunday coverage on some of their shows, particularly when local people are involved.

And so we had an April 20 Sunday centerpiece on Geoff Haley and Jason Hurwitz, both who came home to show their talent at the Arts Center the following weekend. And Rob Steele, in that same meeting, told us about another upcoming show involving local people, 100 Guitars, and I at that point had to back out of making any decisions and left the decisions to the Lifestyle editor, who reasoned that it deserved similar treatment and took over my normal role in overseeing the product.

I was even away on vacation the week it was produced. Now, down to the stories, Seth Olinsky, Dana's bandmate in Akron/Family, is responsible for this Friday's production even being considered for Williamsport. He looked up Rhys Chatham in Paris (the band does a lot of touring in Europe as well as North America, and Seth already knew Rhys, I believe as a former teacher) and the ball was set in motion.

The main story was about 100 Guitars. The sidebar was about Seth's band, and yes, Dana's band too. And I, as the mother and not the news editor, did not get my heart broken this time like I did when another writer previously gave the boys a bad review in the Sun-Gazette's weekly entertainment section. (I couldn't prevent that either, and I certainly didn't agree with his opinion. But I respect that it is his opinion.)

During vacation, I had an interesting conversation with Seth. We were talking about reviews, and that bad one in particular. He said for a while he spent a lot of time reading reviews on the Internet, and the bad ones would get him down. After a while, he had to just stop reading what the critics had to say, even though by and large the reviews are quite good.

I understand where he's coming from. Negative comments can cut through the hearts of sensitive people, and creative people can be quite sensitive. So forget the bad reviews and focus on the good, such as how the New York Times music critic loves them so much and even blogged about them from South by Southwest.

I'll try to take that advice rather than give in to my knee-jerk reaction to put the walls back up.



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