As I write this, I’ve just finished a meeting with my outgoing and incoming managing/online editors, Joe Bardi and Scott Harrell.
I feel a mix of nostalgia, pride, excitement and hope.
For all three of us.
Joe has grown right along with me in this job. He was an intern when I began in 2004 as editor of CL (then Weekly Planet), and proceeded to claw his way to the almost-top. Or to be more accurate, he did everything in his various jobs so thoroughly and responsibly, and with such irrepressible zeal and good humor, that it was inevitable that he would keep getting promoted. And that he would eventually move on.
Scott was already a major player in the Planet universe in 2004, a well-regarded music critic with an unmistakable voice that he’d eventually employ as a columnist on all kinds of subjects, and in columns with I don’t remember how many titles. He left full-time employ with CL in 2006 (something about writing a novel) and went on to become editor-in-chief of the much-beloved local music mag Reax, but kept connected with us through his award-winning blog and bi-weekly column Life As We Blow It. Now, after a career detour into the mad, mad world of Internet marketing, he’s back in the CL fold — and this time he’s management.
Oh, how quickly they grow up.
Joe’s next frontier is TV — too many viewings of Anchorman, apparently, or maybe it was those occasional co-hosting gigs on WTSP’s Studio 10 that seduced him. Actually, he’s not headed for an on-air job; he’s going to be Digital Managing Editor for the ABC affiliate in Sarasota, where he’ll be bringing his expertise to bear on the station’s website. But don’t be surprised if he shows up on Good Morning America before long; those teeth, that hair, that really loud voice when he’s excited! We miss him already.
But boy, are we happy to have Scott back on the staff. Not only does he bring his own set of web-savvy tricks to the job, he’s an exacting editor, an original thinker, and one of the funniest guys on (from?) the planet. My only fear is that his smoking breaks will be so frequent and so popular that the whole office will pick up a pack-a-day habit just to shoot the shit with Scott.
And we’re not completely kicking the Joe habit; he’ll continue as our main movie critic, and he also promises to comment regularly on our various online platforms, this time without filtering his true feelings. Which, I promise you, can be, well, passionate. Mitch — watch out!
A word on the cover of this week's print edition: As the subhead mentions, Mark Leib’s review of The Normal Heart is the third straight in which he’s given a show his top rating of five stars. As regular readers of CL know, for Mark to give one play that high a rating is rare, but three in a row is almost unheard of. But you know what? The reason we highlighted this mini-trend is that all three of these productions — Gorilla’s An Iliad, American Stage’s 2 Trains Running, and freeFall’s Normal Heart — are eminently deserving of all the kudos that can be heaped upon them. I confess I preferred some aspects of the 2012 staged reading of Heart to this version, but can’t say any more than that; I’m still doing the judgin’ (to quote Peter Cook) for Theatre Tampa Bay, so I’m not supposed to reveal my proclivities. But I can’t imagine anyone could see any of these plays and judge them to be anything less than extraordinary.
Unfortunately, the run of An Iliad is over for now, though Gorilla may try to bring it back in the fall. But you’ve still got plenty of time to see both Trains (through Feb. 23) and Heart (through Feb. 16). I highly recommend that you do.