Flashbacks: October 13, 2006

The Boston Phoenix has been covering the trends and events that shape our times since 1966.
By FLASHBACKS  |  October 11, 2006

No stranger to danger | 5 years ago | October 12, 2001 | Tamara Wieder interviewed intrepid reporter/author Sebastian Junger before his trip to Afghanistan.
“Q: How do your family and friends deal with what you do?

 A: Well, my parents get upset when I go places. But I think they’re also proud of me. And I think they want to make sure that I’m doing it for the right reasons, that I’m not trying to prove something anymore, that my motives are pure. And I think all of them know that I’m not reckless at all. I mean, in anything, here or there, I’m just not a reckless person. Yeah, they worry. I’m also not going to do this forever. This story has had such huge implications. I think it’s going to be hard for a lot of journalists, afterwards, to think about normal, sort of mundane stories — stories that used to be big six months ago but now, in comparison to this, they’re all page-eight items now. It’s weird — Macedonia, that was headline news this summer. I was there in late June and early July, big crisis over there, headline news. And now, it’s nothing. And so it’s going to be hard for us to adjust.

“Q: For readers, too.

A: Yeah, that’s right. You know, who cares about the Maoist insurgency in Nepal right now? Unless the Maoist insurgency wants to fly planes into our buildings, they don’t really matter. It’s weird.”

Shame train | 10 years ago | October 11, 1996 | Sarah McNaught investigated Amtrak’s hidden racism.
“In October of 1993, Bill Regan started his workday just like any other. It was 7 am as he stood in the doorway of supervisor Robert Hartley’s office listening to the men receiving their morning work orders.

“As the two-time elected president of the Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employees (BMWE) Local 987, Regan had the job of ensuring that employees in his department — part of the engineering division of the MBTA Commuter Rail Services, operated under contract by Amtrak — were being assigned to work crews in accordance with union policy.

“There were six foremen in the office, several men in the lunchroom next door, several more in the track department on the other side of Hartley’s office, and more in the office across the way. There were even men lingering in the hall awaiting the start of the day.

“That’s why it’s almost unbelievable that no one witnessed what happened next.

“ ‘All I remember,’ says the 53-year-old Regan, ‘is the guy standing in the doorway beside me turned to me and said, ‘Bill, your jacket.’ As I turned my head and looked over my shoulder, I realized I was on fire.’

“Someone had come down the hall, set Regan’s multicolored rayon windbreaker on fire, and walked away, apparently unnoticed. Regan says he managed to pull the jacket off before it had the chance to burn through his sweatshirt. Meanwhile, everyone else stood and stared in disbelief as Regan turned to Hartley and said, ‘Bob, enough’s enough. I can’t take it anymore.’

“This was not the first time somebody tried to take Regan down. . . .

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