Three years ago, right before Valentine’s Day, I had a meeting with a prospective intern. He came to me recommended by a mutual friend, which usually turns out to be a good idea. Come to find out, as we usually come to find out, that we had many more mutual friends, colleagues, school mates, and all the other incarnations of a young, creative, urban commune. This was sure to work out.
We met for coffee to discuss his knowledge of Buffalo, his level of creative and artistic taste (a tricky kind of criteria to base a hiring decision on, but important for a job in an environment like this), and just to get an idea. In most interactions with potential new friends, hires, interview subjects, wash-and-fold workers, I like to gain at least a feeling of your personality (if you’re a creep, if you’re going to steal my stuff, if you know how to roll t-shirts), and then leave the details for later. Go with your gut, has gotten me far in life and work.
Patrick showed up, looking perfectly like an intern—60% eager, hungry, voracious; 25% precious; 15% incapable of speaking properly—with one extra thing not typically found: he had a personality. It should not be a revelation that many people out there in the world are too plain and easy to notice. Writers, especially, are notorious for blending into their surroundings. Patrick had moxie, a kindness, a politeness, and a laugh that appeared only when it wanted to, and a scope of inquiry that confirmed for me that he’d be great at probing the lives of strangers. As for personality, I don’t recall what he wore exactly, but based on the last three years of his wardrobe, it likely included cute visible foxes and cute hidden ice cream cones.
(At the end of our interview, which had quickly veered into conversation between two old chaps, he asked where he might take a girl he was hoping to impress for Valentine’s Day. I suggested some restaurants, and he later followed up with me, before hearing of his hiring, of the recommendation’s success. He also asked if he should cut his hair—an unmistakable junior mullet—which I laughed at and thought, oh that’s sweet, but no. “You’re just going to be an intern, that won’t be necessary,” I thought to but didn’t say.)
I won’t belittle the subsequent three years of work—for Block Club magazine, on Block Club’s administrative team, for City Dining Cards’s expanding community ventures; as a smiley, warm, trustworthy, professional, creative and invaluable face for this family of a company—with workplace stories. Retrace our steps since his first day, and you’ll see his input, words, direction and sensibility. His byline will continue to appear. He’s not going anywhere. But he won’t be here, and that makes me sad and more.
Today is Patrick’s last day. He will not be far from us. His new work will keep him close to the ideals I know he’s absorbed having worked here, and the work that we all believe so much in. It hasn’t hit me that he won’t be high-fiving me Monday morning; or answering the phone with a length explanation of how his name is Patrick, and our boss’s name is Patrick, and really they are two different Patricks; or sending me screen-caps of songs he likes, websites he laughs at, and intra-office chat nuggets, all of which make me laugh like a dying hyena; or me advising him to tell me “no” when I know his heart tells him to say “yes,” a fault I have a hard time faulting; or making me proud to print his byline for an article he put an inordinate, inaccessible amount of time into, given his expansive duties; or just his hidden ice-cream cones, that appear when you least expect it. His journalistic backbone has informed all that he’s done, no matter the project. His attention to detail has both saved my life and given me headaches. But it’s okay.
Patrick, “the other Patrick,” Bro, Hey Girl, colleague, buddy, high-five sensei, brother: you’re my favorite.
Peace out,Ben

Three years ago, right before Valentine’s Day, I had a meeting with a prospective intern. He came to me recommended by a mutual friend, which usually turns out to be a good idea. Come to find out, as we usually come to find out, that we had many more mutual friends, colleagues, school mates, and all the other incarnations of a young, creative, urban commune. This was sure to work out.

We met for coffee to discuss his knowledge of Buffalo, his level of creative and artistic taste (a tricky kind of criteria to base a hiring decision on, but important for a job in an environment like this), and just to get an idea. In most interactions with potential new friends, hires, interview subjects, wash-and-fold workers, I like to gain at least a feeling of your personality (if you’re a creep, if you’re going to steal my stuff, if you know how to roll t-shirts), and then leave the details for later. Go with your gut, has gotten me far in life and work.

Patrick showed up, looking perfectly like an intern—60% eager, hungry, voracious; 25% precious; 15% incapable of speaking properly—with one extra thing not typically found: he had a personality. It should not be a revelation that many people out there in the world are too plain and easy to notice. Writers, especially, are notorious for blending into their surroundings. Patrick had moxie, a kindness, a politeness, and a laugh that appeared only when it wanted to, and a scope of inquiry that confirmed for me that he’d be great at probing the lives of strangers. As for personality, I don’t recall what he wore exactly, but based on the last three years of his wardrobe, it likely included cute visible foxes and cute hidden ice cream cones.

(At the end of our interview, which had quickly veered into conversation between two old chaps, he asked where he might take a girl he was hoping to impress for Valentine’s Day. I suggested some restaurants, and he later followed up with me, before hearing of his hiring, of the recommendation’s success. He also asked if he should cut his hair—an unmistakable junior mullet—which I laughed at and thought, oh that’s sweet, but no. “You’re just going to be an intern, that won’t be necessary,” I thought to but didn’t say.)

I won’t belittle the subsequent three years of work—for Block Club magazine, on Block Club’s administrative team, for City Dining Cards’s expanding community ventures; as a smiley, warm, trustworthy, professional, creative and invaluable face for this family of a company—with workplace stories. Retrace our steps since his first day, and you’ll see his input, words, direction and sensibility. His byline will continue to appear. He’s not going anywhere. But he won’t be here, and that makes me sad and more.

Today is Patrick’s last day. He will not be far from us. His new work will keep him close to the ideals I know he’s absorbed having worked here, and the work that we all believe so much in. It hasn’t hit me that he won’t be high-fiving me Monday morning; or answering the phone with a length explanation of how his name is Patrick, and our boss’s name is Patrick, and really they are two different Patricks; or sending me screen-caps of songs he likes, websites he laughs at, and intra-office chat nuggets, all of which make me laugh like a dying hyena; or me advising him to tell me “no” when I know his heart tells him to say “yes,” a fault I have a hard time faulting; or making me proud to print his byline for an article he put an inordinate, inaccessible amount of time into, given his expansive duties; or just his hidden ice-cream cones, that appear when you least expect it. His journalistic backbone has informed all that he’s done, no matter the project. His attention to detail has both saved my life and given me headaches. But it’s okay.

Patrick, “the other Patrick,” Bro, Hey Girl, colleague, buddy, high-five sensei, brother: you’re my favorite.

Peace out,
Ben

In the spirit of your Aunt Crazy Pants’s holiday family newsletter, I’d like to offer the following words about a particularly joyous winter here at Block Club magazine. Have a seat, relax, and get a whiff of what we’ve been doing:

To start, we had the sickest issue launch party ever last weekend. To say that we were ready to boom would be the understatement of this three-week-long year. It’s been frigid, but 2014 is a steaming hot pile of excitement here in Buffalo. Issue 34 both celebrates and fist-shakes at the good and bad booms that enter our lives and cities. There’s joy in explosive results, and also letdown. For this one night, however, we focused on the bright lights. Buffalo sure understands a party.

I’m no accountant, but I’d guess this was Block Club’s best-attended soirée to date, and we’ve hosted a catering hall’s fair share of soirées. The formula is always the same—original people, inarguable tunes, many sleeves of red Solos. Let’s not mention the Great Flip Cup Challenge of…no, let’s not mention it. Let’s go with: we celebrate well.

We once again gathered for jovial pursuits, yes, but also to  launch the new issue of our humble little seven-year-old magazine child. He’s growing up so fast. The terrible twos were no myth, lemmetellyou. Seven is better. Seven is mature, and respectable. Seven can tie his own shoes.

Block Club magazine has changed a bit over the years, to which many of you can personally attest. Where it stands today, tall and proud and full of civic, progressive, creative spirit, is precisely why we throw such parties. We are too proud of our city’s resolve to become who we want to be, and to enjoy the ride on the way there. (Though, obvi, there is no “there”; we are “there” whenever we are here. But that’s introducing metaphysical noise on an office party recap, so.)

In addition to the jams, the snacks and the booze, there was also art, conversation and many new introductions. Much to my surprise, I’m hearing a lot of disbelief about the veracity of the issue’s photographed Boom signs. They are, indeed, real. We make things here at Block Club, with our hands and noggins and hearts and anything else that gets dirty. These four signs are mighty big, heavy and hand-painted in our amazingly creepy city basement. We hopped in Tim’s big truck and ventured out to city and suburban locations and held those signs up ourselves. It was a little dangerous at points, but worth the statement: true Booms change lives, so let’s pay attention when we see one approaching, AND let’s react smartly when one drops on our lap. It’s all in our hands, folks. I speak for the whole team here when I say that seeing readers interact with these signs was pretty sweet. I love that art is a complementary element in our printed paper magazine. It’s rewarding to see what’s on the pages spill out onto walls and into people’s mouths. Great chats all around about what Boom means. The conversation continues…

We’d like to thank our friends at Community Beer Works, The Black Market Food Truck, and the fantabulistic ABCDJ (Sherri and Mario!) for their help in making this such a sweet night.

We’re working very hard on the next issue—35, holy shnikes—coming this April, and on the next slate of issues. (I’m giddy about the moment when we’ll announce the next four themes. It’s, like….I wanna do it right now but I can’t.) You can still grab a copy of Boom, for absolutely free and zero cents, in your favorite WNY local-shopping district, and 24/7 online. And when we party next, you’ll be with us, of course, so you won’t need such a recap to summarize other peoples’ fun Friday night. What we you doing instead, I also meant to ask. Hmmm?

In the meantime, Buffalo and those beyond the Queen City: rock hard, live truthfully, and BOOM BIG!

-Ben

Working on a logo that includes a paper airplane lead to a friendly debate/heated argument/office riot on Friday about which type of paper airplane flies to best. “In the name of research!” we set out to conduct a highly scientific experiment whereby our two head engineers (Brandon and Steve) carefully folded their proprietary patterns and launched them down an obstacle course decorated to look like an ordinary office hallway. The results? Several anti-climactic and astonishingly immediate nosedives. It being the Friday before Christmas, the research team sheepishly disbanded, migrating to a table full of Christmas cookies in the kitchen. Happy holidays!
- Julie

Working on a logo that includes a paper airplane lead to a friendly debate/heated argument/office riot on Friday about which type of paper airplane flies to best. “In the name of research!” we set out to conduct a highly scientific experiment whereby our two head engineers (Brandon and Steve) carefully folded their proprietary patterns and launched them down an obstacle course decorated to look like an ordinary office hallway. The results? Several anti-climactic and astonishingly immediate nosedives. It being the Friday before Christmas, the research team sheepishly disbanded, migrating to a table full of Christmas cookies in the kitchen. Happy holidays!

- Julie

Issue 32: Stop blasted off into the sky Friday night, with a spectacular party to celebrate its release. Stop explores the end of things in our cities and lives. How do we respond when the end comes—do we rebuild, or do we stop dead in our tracks?

As always, our festivities included an installation of artwork from the current issue. This issue’s cover and photo essay included breathtaking views from Western New York’s starry nighttime skies. Framed and hung throughout the office, these large photos brought our words about finality to life, in conversation and even debate—an art party AND a magazine release AND hot dogs! What could be better for a beautiful Friday night in Buffalo?

Our friends from Roc Brewing Co., in Rochester, NY, came to pour their fantastic beers; the folks at Frank Gourmet Hot Dogs came to serve up their delicious dogs; and DJ LuLu played us into the night. As always, the gathering in the back migrated to a dance party in the front, with passersby curiously trading Main Street in for our impromptu dance floor.

Already looking forward to the launch of Issue 33: Gray, coming this October. Hope to see you there!

-Ben