, Newburyport, MA


December 20, 2012

Picture this


Perhaps with the ever-increasing speed of technological advances, the writer could have access to something like that face recognition software developed by Homeland Security, or that software that detectives use to predict what people might look like in a disguise, the kind that helped track down Whitey Bulger. Or that scientists use to predict what an individual might look like over time, similar to the “Picture of Dorian Gray” concept. After all, some columnists have written for years. The software could automatically add crow’s feet and wrinkles as time winds on.

With such software the writer could also tweak the photo depending upon mood or topic or desired image for that particular piece. “I’m serious today. I’d better squint those eyes a little bit, lean toward the camera, and crank down that grin.”

So, what about me?

Way back in the ’80s and ’90s, I wrote columns for both The Daily News in town and the Beverly Times in the circulation area of Masconomet Regional, where I was a teacher. My head shot was rather sober, in jacket and tie, no smile. It was taken by a Daily News photographer, on film, so I never saw it before publication. Yet, I kind of liked it.

Then, for some reason that I no longer remember, I switched to a sweater and open-collared shirt with a smile for ensuing columns. It was a formal pose, taken by my younger son, a photo major at Mass College of Art, for a framed collage of head shots from his brother’s wedding reception as a wedding gift. Perhaps I wanted to honor my son’s work. I liked that one, too. The first pose suggested seriousness, the second, humor. But I continued to write in both styles under both head shots. In a way, as I think back, the two poses should have been used to match the column message.

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