A Eulogy For Ira Black’s Nor’easter Magazine

So I stopped on my way home from work the other day to pick up a copy of Nor’easter. I was looking forward to a couple of things. First, I was hoping to see an interesting remembrance of Bob Liddell, my friend who helped found Nor’easter with me and a group of others and just passed away recently. I also wanted to see if they chose to honor him by placing his name in the masthead next to our other forming founding member who had passed away, Donna Kaehn. In addition, I wanted to read Ira Black’s farewell article, as he is leaving the boating biz for greener pastures, most notably the new Cecil County newspaper, The Cecil Guardian. Well, I was more than a little disappointed. Not only was there no remembrance to Bob in the masthead, Donna’s name had been removed for the first time in Nor’easter’s history, encompassing nine years and some 222 issues, counting the one year we did a special New Jersey edition. There was a nicely presented obituary to Bob, but it was little more than a rehash of obits I had seen previously in other publications. I was expecting more out of a magazine he was instrumental in founding than only a brief mention of his time there in what was otherwise a pretty standard obit. Ira’s column was good, though.

It’s interesting to me that these three elements corresponded in one issue, coincidentally, the final issue of 2009. In my mind, it serves as a final farewell to Ira Black’s Nor’easter Magazine (which was the original name of the publication). Those in charge are clearly trying to find an new identity away from what was originally established. I can’t fault them for that; times change and those who don’t change with them are often left behind. But still, the masthead thing bugged me. I just thought it would have been nice to remember those who came before in a more permanent way. Oh well.

But sitting down to read the now- smaller publication (in size, page count and name–the word “Magazine” has apparently been dropped, as well) seeing clearly the lack of Donna’s presence for the first time, the obit to Bob, and Ira’s good-bye feels a lot like closure. There were many ideals we worked under when we founded the magazine, and they have been getting less and less evident over the years as new minds and new ideals took their place. Now, they are hardly recognizable. New people, new ideas, new priorities have taken over. I’m not saying if that’s a good thing or a bad one, just different. The market will ultimately bear out how well the new direction plays. There will still be a Nor’easter, it just bears little resmblence to the one we founded, for better or for worse.

Ira’s final “In The Wind” column was a fitting eulogy, to me. A great thank you to everyone who supported us, and everyone who helped us along the way. A very nice way to say good bye. I no longer feel any real connection to Nor’easter, despite my efforts in its origins and formative years. It must be a little like a parent letting their children out into the world to make their own way. We don’t always agree with their choices, and it can be too easy to rebuke their missteps from the sideline, but ultimately, it’s their life and their decisions to make. This will be my final words on the subject. It was a helluva lot of fun while it lasted. Ira Black’s Nor’easter Magazine, Rest In Peace.

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