Nick Duffy, Grafton Hill free spirit, self-published author, ‘real-world’ skeptic

“My theory is that we are all here in Worcester to achieve things that the city needs. There’s a lot of culture here, a lot of artists and a lot of fascinating people. We’re going to start doing great things.”

As the phenomenon of binge-watching television series becomes more like a national pastime, particularly for millennials, a Worcester-bred author of that maligned and melancholy generation wants to encourage a healthy obsession with reading.

“I plan to change the perception of books,” said Nicholas Kurt Duffy, who self-published his first novel, “Linda and the Real World,” on Jan. 9. The book, says Duffy, has “something for everyone” and with only 156 pages could be read in less than three hours.

“One excuse people use is ‘books are boring,’ which is a conditioned response. The other is ‘I don’t have time,’ ” Duffy said. “We have time to stare aimlessly at social networks and binge watch shows on Netflix for 70 hours, but not to read books? Why?”

While the writing took Duffy about one year to complete, he said he spent more than five years in the “real world” collecting material.

“It’s about a girl who falls through her television and enters the ‘real world.’ She meets four friends, and the book is about their experiences in the ‘real world,’ he said.

As Duffy describes it on his website, The Author of Gen, “Linda” “is a work of fiction. I call it a fairy tale. …  [it] is written for people, regardless of their age, and for you yourself.”

Far from an open book himself, Duffy, 24, is reluctant to share too much about the novel and prefers to avoid comparisons. Similarly, in very un-millennial style, the Holy Name Central Catholic High School alum asked not to be photographed for this story. He’d rather “keep to himself,” he says, but did offer that his website moniker and the definition of “Gen” would “make sense in about five years.”

So, there’s that.

Retirement looming, QCC’s Carberry reflects on life, legacy and community

On a recent blustery day in her neatly appointed first-floor office in Quinsigamond Community College’s administration building, outgoing President Gail E. Carberry, who plans to retire at the end of the academic year, pointed a visitor’s attention to a knick-knack pair of ruby slippers on the shelf near her desk.

The message was clear, and clearly one Carberry holds close to her heart: “There’s no place like home.”

It has been more than 10 years since she had the urge to return to work in Worcester, where she was born and spent the first four years of her life. The city is also where she found her “soulmate,” having met husband Don Carberry while both were students at Worcester State College.

As she prepares to leave the post she’s held officially since her September 2007 inauguration, Carberry can reflect on an unprecedented period of advancement for the once much-maligned “Quinsig.”

“Ten years on, I had a lot of terrific [students] and I helped some people believe in themselves,” she said.

Ashley Jordan’s path to music stardom winds through Worcester

Many musical influences, lots of talent and her own take on “country” make Ashley Jordan one-of-a-kind as a singer and songwriter. Venue by venue — many of those along Park Avenue and in the Canal District — song by song, she’s working hard and enjoying it all. Find out about a hometown musical up-and-comer before it’s too late to jump on the bandwagon.

Q&A: Mike Angelini, Worcester’s power broker, gets down to business

On the fifth anniversary of his paper that dramatically refocused Worcester’s economic development efforts, the chairman of the law firm Bowditch & Dewey, Hanover Insurance Group’s board of directors and Massport discusses the impact of his paper, the city’s current economic development efforts, the role of public and higher education in moving the city forward, the city’s dual tax rate, Worcester Regional Airport, commuter rail, and more.

Ashley Jordan’s path to music stardom winds through Worcester

HARVARD — The musical journey for Ashley Jordan began when she was a toddler. She listened to her grandfather play country, folk and bluegrass tunes on guitar when he would entertain the family with his performances. He also recorded himself on various equipment, hoping to save those encores for future generations.

When Ashley was 6, though, he died.

“I didn’t have a direct connection to him being so young, but I grew up loving that kind of music,” she said.

“My dad grew up listening to Jewel, James Taylor, Alison Krauss and many others, so I had those songs in my head and enjoyed listening to them,” she said. “But then I took off and started playing guitar and writing lyrics,  and it transformed into a country direction. So, yes, my family had a big influence and they’ve always been so supportive of me and my music.”

Ashley Jordan of Harvard, an up-and-coming singer on the national stage, has honed her craft in Worcester.

Courtesy Ashley Jordan

Ashley Jordan of Harvard, an up-and-coming singer on the national stage, has honed her craft in Worcester.

It was some time, though, before young Ashley’s family realized it had a new hobby to support.

“My parents didn’t even know that I was a singer until I signed up to do a talent show in high school. And they asked me, ‘What are you going to do for the talent show, Ashley?’

“At that time I was too shy to sing in public and I kept that secret to myself – until the talent show,” she said. “My parents were shocked to find out that I really could sing well.”

Once Ashley learned guitar and gained confidence in her playing, she started to perform on the streets of Boston and Harvard Square in Cambridge, with her parents not far from the impromptu sidewalk concerts.


More Sun music:


Q&A: Mike Angelini, Worcester’s power broker, gets down to business

The title was innocuous: “A proposal for the reorganization of Worcester’s Economic Development Efforts.” The content was anything but.

In addition to referring to Worcester’s developmental efforts as compartmentalized, inefficient and absent of collaboration, the proposal listed a litany of deficiencies; the phrase “We do not have” appeared in six consecutive sentences.

The paper recommended a new entity, the Worcester Economic Development Corporation, assume the responsibilities of the Worcester Regional Chamber of Commerce, Worcester Business Development Corporation, Worcester Redevelopment Authority, Destination Worcester, and others.

Criticism is common, but this broadside to the status quo, written five years ago, remains notable for two reasons.

angelini_4-sm

David Niles / For Worcester Sun

Michael P. Angelini

First, its author was none other than Michael P. Angelini, Chairman of the law firm Bowditch & Dewey and one of the most influential business leaders in the city. Second, it led to a fundamental change in the city’s approach to economic development — and the effects of those changes are still evident in 2016.

QUOTE OF NOTE:

“There is a difference between being a politician and being a political leader. Politicians are mindful of the pressures they face. Political leaders are mindful of the future that we face. I think it was terrible leadership by the City Council.” Find out what council decision got Mike Angelini fired up later in this story.

Q&A with Malika Carter, Worcester’s chief diversity officer

In her first extended one-on-one interview since being named Worcester’s chief diversity officer, Malika Carter sits down with the Sun and discusses what prepared her for a city the size of Worcester, the city’s hiring practices, last summer’s dialogues on race, a recent incident involving a member of the city manager’s cabinet, the role of media, and difference between threats and free speech.

Ray Mariano, a Worcester conversation

“When you leave, you should just leave.” It’s easy to believe him, too. At first. But Mariano, famously a product of the Great Brook Valley housing complex with degrees from Worcester State and Clark, is about as quintessential a public servant as this city has ever seen. The longtime mayor, city councilor and school board member seems to have more he wants to accomplish. We sat down for a few questions, and a few more stories with the “retiring” Worcester Housing Authority director.

Ray Mariano, a Worcester conversation

Ray Mariano is sure about many things. Except what’s next.

He understands you can’t plan for everything. Something will change, get in the way, go terribly wrong. It could be uninspiring leadership, or cross words from a skeptical father to a teenage boy from the wrong part of town. A sudden job opening. Or the spark of a candle in an abandoned warehouse on a cool December evening.

It could be a funny story from one of your two grandchildren. Or the look of a troublemaker standing back to revel in the mayhem he helped cause. Each ensuing moment has the potential to be a turning point, an opportunity.

Ray Mariano will leave the Worcester Housing Authority after 13 years June 30.

Fred Hurlbrink Jr. / Worcester Sun

Ray Mariano will leave the Worcester Housing Authority after 13 years June 30.

Raymond V. Mariano, 64, the longtime mayor who will step down as executive director of Worcester Housing Authority Thursday, June 30, after 13 years at the helm, may not know what his tomorrow holds but he is certain to have an answer for whatever the next sunrise brings.

One thing’s for sure: He’ll be neither wallflower nor gadfly.

“When I left City Hall, I didn’t go back into the building for one year. And the only reason I went back at the end of a year, was to get a dog license,” Mariano said recently from behind his desk in the housing authority’s Belmont Street headquarters. “Other than that I wasn’t going back into the building. When the mayor leaves, he should leave. You won’t see my portrait, ever, at City Hall. Not gonna get it. Not interested, don’t care. I mean it’s nice — my kids don’t like the idea that I won’t get it.

“When you leave, you should just leave.”