Opinion: Support for NoN’s mission is music to the ears

Mark Chapman
Mark Chapman

Mark Chapman is a 36-year career journalist and is NancyOnNorwalk’s editor.

Sometimes the emotions are immediate. They are triggered by a word, a smell, a sight, and the feelings can overwhelm.

Sometimes it’s more subtle. Sometimes, caught up in the moment, you don’t appreciate the meaning until, in the quiet, dark hours of a midsummer night, the significance of what might have seemed to be perfunctory happening comes rushing in. The light goes on, the wistful smile comes and you just sort of start to notice…

The NoN fundraiser was meant to be a way to stay afloat, to pay the bills as two mid-life (or, in my case, somewhat over-the-hill) journalists try to do it the right way, a throwback to the golden days of local journalism before Kardashians, cat videos and phony local headlines for Search Engine Optimization became the rule.

Thursday night at the Hilton Garden Inn was a good night, helped along by a new wrinkle – a jazz combo led by Mike Camacho, a young Norwalk drummer and jazz studies major at SUNY Purchase. We expected a trio, we got a quartet, with guitar, bass and sax. Value added.

They set up the event in the lobby of the hotel. Nice touch, much better than a function room. There was food, out of sight in a room behind the fireplace to keep the hotel guests from partaking. The band was in front of the fireplace.

The editor was in front of the band.

It dawned on me some 24 hour later that some of the most important parts of my life had come together in that hotel lobby. As I sat by the donation bowl and listened to the band and chatted with visitors, I watched Nancy – the shy young girl I met some 38 years ago, the one who avoided social gatherings like the Ebola virus – worked the room like a pro, smiling, laughing, enjoying her moment. People came by, dropped off their donations and talked about how much they appreciate this news site, which is quickly becoming the culmination of a 30-year dream for me.

And all that jazz.

Four young guys, chasing their own dream of making music, creating, speaking their emotions through their instruments.

That used to be my dream too.

I was one of those young guys in 1971 when I packed up my trombone and headed off to Berklee College of Music in Boston, a hotshot jazz player from Cape Cod ready to show ‘em how it’s done.

The dream had been music and theater, and, after two semesters of being slapped daily by reality, I headed for the other half of the dream. Long story short, that led five years later to meeting Nancy at a New Jersey theater and the need for a steady check. Family dream achieved, career dream crushed.

I became the accidental journalist.

Somewhere along the way the dreams changed. Music lingered, but the spark was lit for publishing a local newspaper that could make a difference, without having to answer to corporate bosses.

The music happened – about 10 years’ worth of cabaret shows, club work and lounges while working fulltime as a journalist. I had dreamed of being a singer while growing up – before the trombone. Performing on cruise ships, in clubs and lounges in New York, Boston, Cape Cod and Florida.

Been there, done that.

And, 24 hours later, as I sat watching four young guys making their music on a YouTube video with sketchy sound, it struck me that the silly old cliché about dreams coming true might just not be such a cliché at all.

We thank all who contribute, all who encourage, all who read. There is still a ways to go, and we cannot do it without you. And we want to continue to do it, to fully realize a dream that a couple of people with a vision and a purpose can achieve success without selling out their values.


5 responses to “Opinion: Support for NoN’s mission is music to the ears”

  1. Mike Mushak

    Beautiful story. Thank you for sharing your history and love of music and theater, and for all both of you do to help make Norwalk better through good journalism. The fact that the last administration tried to shut you down for doing your job only makes us realize how important independent journalism and questioning authority are to a well functioning government.
    The fact that Norwalk has an unending supply of mythological plots and characters, with drama, tragedy, and comedy, and it’s own Greek chorus on your news site, reinforces the concept that life does imitate art. Perhaps our lives are just extended pieces of performance art anyway, played out over years to entertain the mischievous and sometimes diabolical spirits that seem to control it all. As William S. put it so well 6 centuries ago, “All the world’s a stage”.
    Great jazz too! These guys are terrific , and thoroughly enjoy what they are doing. The video gets better halfway through, by the way. .
    Best wishes to these young talented guys just starting out. And best wishes to you, Nancy and Mark, for adding so much to this drama called Norwalk, even when it becomes the Theater of the Absurd which it so often does!

  2. Benthere Donethat

    An enjoyable article, Mark. Only my 91 year old barber probably has more tales to tell.

  3. John Frank sr

    Very pleasant evening. I hope the donations were enough to meet the expenses for the evening, and keep NON afloat for a good while.

    1. Mark Chapman

      @John Frank

      Thanks. It was nice to finally meet you. For our fundraiser a, venues and food and, in this case, music are donated either by the venue or an individual. The money all goes to the cause. It helps sustain us, but only partially. We still rely on some ads, donations made through the site and whatever else we can scrape together from freelance work, which is dwindling.

  4. Sara Sikes

    Thanks for sharing your interesting history. It was a wonderful event and I especially loved the young jazz guys. Best wishes for you and Nancy to keep up the great service you have been providing for a long time to come!

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