Couldda Been 2: Raised Catholic
Start of August 28 Column. More or Less Continuous News Service since 1998

Forgiving Feirtag

For half a century, I hated Michael Feirtag for this scene:
It was a rainy Friday afternoon during my first week at MIT. Unbeknownst to me, that was the dullest time of the week in the office of The Tech. Normally, it would have been locked and empty. By coincidence, there was a single editor there, Michael Feirtag, the editor of the Arts Section. Michael was thin and gawky, with odd teeth and a prickly demeanor. In my hand, I had my typed review of the brand-new Firesign Theater album Don’t Crush That Dwarf, Hand Me The Pliers. I was a huge Firehead (devoted follower of the group).

“I’d like to write for The Tech,” I said.

Feirtag accepted my one-page review. He gave it a cursory glance. “This stuff is shit Schindler. Why don’t you write for some other paper?”
It worked out. I went to Ergo, where PSACOT started, and was then asked to move it to The Tech for a few weeks. Eventually I became editor-in-chief.

I can’t change the past, but I can change how I feel about it. I have recently realized that Feirtag (who went on to become an author and a writer for the Scientific American) saved me. He saved me from becoming a lackluster arts reporter, which led to my being a decent columnist and a great reporter.

Thank you Michael Feirtag. (I have tried to reach him, but his Internet profile is zero, other than articles and books from a few decades ago, by publishers who haven’t heard from him since).


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