The Phoenix Network:
About  |  Advertise
Adult  |  Moonsigns  |  Band Guide  |  Blogs  |  In Pictures

Former Boston Phoenix staff writer Ellen Barry wins Pulitzer Prize

Before ELLEN BARRY became a world-famous Moscow correspondent for the New York Times, she spent a couple of years as a features writer for the Phoenix. Given that she just won the Pulitzer this afternoon for hard-news reporting in one of the most dangerous places to be a journalist in the world, you could say we wasted her talent. You could say it, but you'd be wrong. When she joined the Phoenix in 1996 she'd just come back from a couple years reporting for the Moscow Times, and, for us, she promptly wrote "Generation Nyet," a fantastic account of Boris Yeltsin's re-election campaign as seen through the eyes of the first generation of post-Soviet emancipated teenagers. It's still one of the first things that long-time Phoenicians remember when Barry's name comes up. It begins in Red Square

The summer solstice is approaching, and this particular night is hot, hot, hot. Some of the girls climb onto their boyfriends' shoulders, where they wave thin arms over their heads to the pounding bass of Malchishknik, Russia's answer to the Beastie Boys. They are massed -- some 100,000 Russian twentysomethings -- from Saint Basil's Cathedral across the Kamenny Bridge to the other side of the Moscow River, and there are girls waving their arms for as far as the eye can see.


This season in Moscow, the girls are wearing mesh shirts, or half-shirts, or mesh half-shirts, or shirts that they tie up around their ribs. At any rate, there is a lot of midriff in Red Square. Their boyfriends aren't wearing any shirts at all.

Eighteen-year-old Lyolya dances near the stage with moves that are half hip-hop, half Cossack. Just then someone charges through the crowd with a large portrait of Boris Yeltsin. Lyolya and his friends, who are drinking out of bottles swathed in newspaper, erupt into a boisterous chant: Borya, Borya, Borya.

It's the sound of an electorate waking up.

Barry went on to write about Boston goths and romance novelists and race and a comatose, possibly miracle-working teenager in Worcester -- applying a literary voicing to the kind of discplined reporting that marked her career at the Globe (she eventually reported for them from New England and Central Asia), the Los Angeles Times, and finally the New York Times.

Near the end of her tenure at the Phoenix, I managed to talk Ellen into carting my ass to New Hampshire on what was supposed to be a joint assignment. We had a few thousand words to kill for our summer guide, and we concocted some scheme to get out of the office that involved a one-day road trip to New Hampshire. With her at the wheel, and me feeding '80s thrash-metal cassettes into the stereo, we worked our way up Route One, eating terrible diner food, contemplating bad tattoos, and sneaking onto the grounds of a nuclear reactor. The highlight was a trip to a firing range where, in addition to out-target-shooting me with a .38 and a .45, Ellen almost got us fired upon by the proprietor, who had to explain to us that when approaching the ammo counter, you're supposed to let the cylinder hang free of the yoke. Which is to say that, after a few near misses, it's no surprise to see Ellen finally winning a Pulitzer: she's always been a good sport, a crack shot, and a hell of a writer.

| More

Leave a Comment

Login | Not a member yet? Click here to Join

 Friends' Activity   Popular   Most Viewed 
All Blogs
Related Articles

Former Boston Phoenix staff writer Ellen Barry wins Pulitzer Prize
Boston Phoenix
Former Boston Phoenix staff writer Ellen Barry wins Pulitzer Prize
Published 4/18/2011 by Carly Carioli
Before ELLEN BARRY became a world-famous Moscow correspondent for the New York Times, she spent a couple of years as a features writer for the...

Boston Phoenix
Romney rides again
Published 4/15/2011 by DAVID S. BERNSTEIN
To win the GOP nomination, Mitt will need to do things differently this time. Here's how.

more by Carly Carioli
Doing It Ninja Style(1) | April 22, 2011
[video] Come plays "In/Out" during TraniWrock at Oberon | April 21, 2011
Meme of the Day: #YourMomIsSoRevere | April 20, 2011
Former Boston Phoenix staff writer Ellen Barry wins Pulitzer Prize | April 18, 2011
Meme of the Day: Your Mom Is So Cambridge (#prcmoms) | April 18, 2011

 See all articles by: Carly Carioli

Follow the Phoenix
  • newsletter
  • twitter
  • facebook
  • youtube
  • rss
Latest Comments
Deficits & Politics - Election Commissioners work in the same Elections Department office at Boston City Hall. How is it that...

By thezak on 04-26-2011 in Talking Politics

Haley And The (All-White) Red Sox - Thank you, David, for the history lesson. I had no idea about these facts. There are lots of people still...

By beachmama94 on 04-23-2011 in Talking Politics

[boston blackout] Controlled Bleeding's Paul Lemos on 30 years of experimental noise - Check out the band's website at

By skullboy666 on 04-21-2011 in On The Download

Gears of War 3: Female Character Added, Game Ruined - I agree with Charlie and I think they also need to have a sandwich camp so the women can make sandwiches...

By Logan on 04-21-2011 in Laser Orgy

Coachella Day 1: Crystal Castles, Cut Copy, Sleigh Bells, Interpol, Cage The Elephant, Marina & the Diamonds, and a Killers reunion - Awww, sorry Millie! :(

By Michael Marotta on 04-21-2011 in On The Download

Latest Comments from Phlog
Most Viewed
Wordle Short Story Quiz
Boston V. NYC Slam Poetry Grudge Match
Review: Boston vs. NYC Slam Poetry Grudge Match at the Armory
Masters of Suspense: Tales from the Crime Scene
Signs of the coming apocalypse
Bands I Saw @ SXSW (non-NPR edition): The Ugly Beats
WFNX Boston Accents playlist 03.27.11
Most Viewed from Phlog
Search Blogs
Phlog Archives
Tuesday, April 26, 2011  |  Sign In  |  Register
Phoenix Media/Communications Group
Copyright © 2011 The Phoenix Media/Communications Group