Mariano: Have we learned anything from the closing of Our Lady of Mount Carmel?

“I do not know if things would have been different if the bishop were a part of the public discussion. But given the stakes involved and the fact that so many of the people he leads were heartsick over the church’s closing, he should have tried.”

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

“It’s a high aspiration, I understand that. But I can fathom it. My goal is to reach a universal audience.” Patrick Sargent stops being polite and starts getting real with a Worcester up-and-comer.

Worcester Sun, April 5: Hitch v. ACLU, Dear Chris Christie, Nick Duffy runs free + more

Also, a jam-packed Inbox, ICE detainer requests before the SJC and a $22B black eye. All in your Wednesday, April 5, Worcester Sun.

Last week’s most popular, March 12-18

Here are the most popular Worcester Sun articles March 12-18

Mariano: Shame on the mayor, superintendent and School Committee! [March 8]
On the road to big things, with singer Dezi Garcia [March 12]
Cosmopolitan Club endures ever-changing landscape [March 15]
Mariano: Erratic Tweeter-in-Chief hurts his own agenda [Vote and tell us what you think.] [March 12]
Sina-cism: Warren prescribes a liberal dose of ‘No’ [March 12]

 

Cosmopolitan Club endures ever-changing landscape

The Cosmo is always looking for its next generation of regulars, which makes it a perfect fit for our Survivor Series showcasing Worcester small businesses standing the test of time.

At the crest of Hamilton Street’s rolling, mile-and-a-half span in the heart of Grafton Hill sits The Cosmopolitan Club, a neighborhood bar burrowed at the base of one of the area’s many three-decker homes.

From its beginning as a single two-lane dirt road, Hamilton Street and the surrounding area has undergone a number of transformations to accommodate travelers and neighbors alike as far back as the mid-1920s and as recently as last summer.

The one constant for the better part of a century has been “The Cosmo,” as it’s affectionately known by its regulars, which opened in 1935 as the post-Prohibition era poured into full swing.

In its 82 years of existence, the club has witnessed the wide lanes of Hamilton street in the heyday of the city’s trolley cars, and the subsequent addition of  “passing lanes” in the 1940s to replace the trolley tracks as automobiles became more affordable and kicked trolley service to the curb.

Courtesy George Cocaine Collection, Worcester Historical Museum

The Cosmo looked pretty much the same back in the black-and-white days (photo taken June 24, 1949).

“Up until recently, Hamilton Street was, like, a four-lane highway with cars speeding up and down. Now they’ve slowed it down and reconfigured it making it more neighborhood friendly,” Cosmopolitan Club owner Matthew O’Mara said, referring to last summer’s addition of bike paths narrowing of Hamilton Street to one lane on each side.

“The city is going to do a nice greenscape in the spring with trees and grass,” O’Mara said. “So you know things are going the right way. Hopefully, things continue in the uptrend.”

The Cosmo, it seems, is a place where many things begin trending upward.

More Survivor Series

Worcester Sun, March 15: The Cosmo going strong, Green Day, Top 5 stories + more

An enlightening conversation with QCC’s Gail Carberry hits the Free to Read section. Legal marijuana advocates are ready to roll in opposition to proposed changes to the delayed law. Inbox is overflowing. It’s all in your Wednesday, March 15, Worcester Sun.

On the road to big things, with singer Dezi Garcia

We are living in a digital world, and Dezi Garcia is an analog guy.

Or at least that’s what the young Grafton Hill crooner wants people to hear when they listen to the six songs on the album he released to iTunes Jan. 27: “Analog Mind in a Digital World”.

“Ultimately, an analog mind is an ‘outcast’ way of thinking,” Garcia said. “It’s like an introvert [who] realizes the complexity of his or her mind and steers away from mainstream thinking.”

While you wrap your head around Garcia’s free-thinking singer-songwriter perspective, consider the mind-numbing gauntlet that lies between the St. Peter-Marian graduate and the sold-out stadium tour dreamt of by most musical up-and-comers.

A little outside-the-box thinking might not hurt, after all.

After more than two years of writing, it took Garcia, 22, about another year to record and produce 18 minutes of music for the EP.

Matthew Wright / mattwrightphoto.com

Garcia recently released his second album.

And now he’s searching for an agent and/or manager to help him book more gigs outside of Worcester and begin to boost his profile as he aims for a summer tour that spans the East Coast. You won’t get much argument about Garcia’s talent, but settling on the best way to leverage that ability into a sizable audience — that’s not so cut and dried.

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.

Local Business Spotlight: Jerry’s Famous Soft-Serve

Jerry Bianculli’s two red, white and blue trucks with images of ice cream sundaes, hot dogs and novelties have been roaming Worcester since 1962. Patrick Sargent catches up with the local icon in our Local Business Spotlight “Survivor Series,” highlighting small businesses that just won’t quit.

Local Business Spotlight: Jerry’s Famous Soft-Serve

For kids everywhere there’s nothing quite like hearing that inimitable sound of an ice cream truck getting ever-closer to your neighborhood.

For Worcester kids, though, one man has been steering those jingles up and down the seven hills, causing boys and girls to sprint inside for money and back out for a lucky place in the line for the past 54 years.

Jerry Bianculli, THE ice cream man in Worcester

Patrick Sargent / For Worcester Sun

Jerry Bianculli, THE ice cream man in Worcester

Since 1962, Jerry Bianculli, a Grafton Hill lifer, has been serving frozen treats and novelties out of his ice cream truck, Jerry’s Famous Soft-Serve, in and around Worcester at baseball and softball games, outdoor concerts, fairs and myriad other events.

Bianculli declined to reveal his age, but he said he attended Grafton Hill Junior High and graduated from Commerce High School, which shuttered in 1966.

So what’s the secret?