Sunday, August 21, 2005
BLOGS: Cincinnati political blogger relocates to North Adams
North Adams Transcript
Blogger finds first few weeks in city quite busy
By John E. Mitchell
North Adams Transcript
Saturday, August 20, 2005 - NORTH ADAMS -- When a Cincinnati blogger
relocated to North Adams last month, he didn't expect things to happen so
quickly -- the first week, he met Ted Kennedy, the next someone asked him
to run for public office and, by the third, he was being interviewed for a
No wonder his girlfriend referred to him as "King of Berkshire County."
"It's an amazingly friendly area," said new arrival Wes Flinn. "Everyone
has been so outgoing and inviting and the natural beauty is stellar, you
really can't top it. I've just fallen in love with the place in two and a
half weeks, it really feels comfortable."
Flinn came to town at the end of July to settle in before starting his new
position as assistant professor of music and band leader at Massachusetts
College of Liberal Arts. His Web log, "Walk In Brain"
(straightmute.blogspot. com), has been an ongoing effort for a few years
now, largely devoted to politics and happenings in Cincinnati. As he
chronicled his efforts to settle into a new home, opportunity presented
itself for him to meet the man who symbolizes Massachusetts on a national
"Out where I'm from, words like 'Ted Kennedy' and 'Massachusetts' are
usually said in the same tone of voice as 'Satan' and 'Dark Lord,'" said
Flinn's blog had been going through a slow period during the transition to
North Adams and rather than political analysis, he was posting messages
such as "Verizon's not going to turn on my home Internet for two weeks."
"Then the Ted Kennedy thing came along," said Flinn. "I did not have cable
yet, so the only two stations I could get were Channel 19 and 38, or
something like that, and through the haze and the snow on the screen they
said 'Senator Kennedy is coming to North Adams on Friday.'"
Flinn got to chat with U.S. Sen. Edward M. Kennedy for a few minutes, as
well as state Rep. Daniel E. Bosley, D-North Adams, quite a happy surprise
for the politically minded blogger from Ohio. Of course, these meetings
were talked about on his blog. It was the following week that a friend
from Cincinnati who had also ended up in this area provided him with some
unexpected local opportunities.
"She mentioned to some of her friends that someone she knew from
Cincinnati who was active in politics was moving up here," said Flinn.
"They said 'Oh get him to run for council.' I've not even been here a week
and two people have asked me to run for council! Can I at least unpack my
books? Can I at least get the cable turned on first?"
Flinn thinks he should get to know the place better before he makes such a
move, but he already has attended a City Council meeting. It's not that he
has his eye on public office, it's just that his nature is to be an
involved citizen. In Cincinnati, he chaired a group called Cincinnati
Advance, whose mission was to get people to live, work, and play within
the city of Cincinnati.
"I really haven't had a lot of time to formulate opinions of all the
personalities in local politics yet," said Flinn.
He has had time to contact other Massachusetts bloggers and make himself
known to that community.
"I found one or two Massachusetts Web logs and dropped a little "Hey, I
just moved out here, what can you tell me about it?" e-mail to the
people," said Flinn, "and next thing I know, I'm linked on five or six
Massachusetts Web logs in the space of a couple weeks. We're planning
tentatively a Massachusetts blogger get together in October."
For Flinn, blogging has become a crucial tool in regard to politics --
it's about more than just spouting your opinion on things.
"What's happened is that those of us who are interested in politics have
started to discover what the real possibilities are of blogging on a
political level," said Flinn. "It's not just about raising funds for
candidates, it's almost an open-source think tank. There's the free flow
of ideas, the interchange and, hopefully, lively and robust discussion."
While the mainstream media has a tendency to present political bloggers as
wild cards spouting biased lunacy, Flinn believes they might be missing
the big picture by focusing so intently on specific bloggers.
"Democracy is not always clean and discussion is not always clean," said
Flinn. "I think it's important that these discussions take place and
people get passionate about it. I would be distrustful of people who
weren't passionate about something."
Flinn also recognizes his opportunity to act as a kind of an ambassador,
presenting a real picture of Massachusetts to his friends and family in
the Midwest -- especially ones in his hometown in Indiana, with its
population of 17 and the hog farm that Flinn grew up on.
"My father, who is 70 years old and as dyed-in-the-wool Republican
conservative as they come," said Flinn, "lives on the farm he's lived on
since 1968, lives in the same county his family has lived in since 1805.
When we were driving up, one of the things he remarked about was how much
the area in eastern New York and Western Massachusetts is not that far
removed in its physical appearance or use of farms as southern Indiana,
Kentucky, the Appalachian foothills."
Flinn feels that it would be helpful for national unity if people in the
heartland realized that there is more to Massachusetts than Boston.
"It's the same basic principle," said Flinn. "You've got people who work
the lands here, you've got the small-town mindset, the small-town approach
to life, and you're going to have that whether it's in North Adams or
Bedford, Ind., or wherever you are. In a small town, things operate a
Flinn is excited to both dive into his new position at MCLA and discover
his new community. As week three has delivered on the newspaper article,
one wonders what week four will hold for him. No doubt, if something does
happen, anyone can find out about it on his Web log, a virtual expression
of his private self.
"It's just like a walk-in freezer," said Flinn. "This is my walk-in