Joey Fitz’s Hero Fetish

In our little editorial warren here at Boston magazine, we have a cubicle wall which we call “The Wall of Ignominy.” On it are many ignominious press clippings pertaining to everything from a college student with *NSync hair weeping over a casket packed with the carcass of Jerry Falwell, to a story about a cop who tried to shoot a snake and ended up hitting a boy. Herald columnist Joe Fitzgerald factors prominently on the wall of ignominy.

This isn’t so much for his generally dyspeptic attitude and gay-bashing, as it is for his incessant humping of the hero theme. Fitz’s column yesterday—titled “The counsel of heroes stays with you for a lifetime“—did it again. We thought this called for a two-year retrospective. Here then, is Fitz’s Hall of Heroes:

8/20/05: “Millie was a hero to a lot of people.”

9/7/05: “Tom Reilly has a chance to be a hero to a lot of disenfranchised people, and all it would require is for him to do the right thing.”

10/8/2005: “More than a few of them, he was told, came to regard him as a personal hero. ‘It’s interesting you use the word hero,’ he said. ‘I believe one of the things young people still need is heroes, and frankly I’m not sure some of the heroes they’re looking at today are going to be the true heroes of their future, the ones they’re going to want to thank when they look back years from now.'”

12/7/05: “Two Boston homicide detectives had called on his behalf, asking if he could meet his hero, Reggie Lewis, the late Celtics star.”

1/16/06: “If you want a crash course in what made [ML] King a personal hero at this address, read Taylor Branch’s ‘Parting The Waters,’ a breathtaking biography.”

1/23/06: “That column was followed by a piece on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., a personal hero at this address.”

8/7/06: “His death notices called him a journalist, but Dave Farrell was more than that; indeed, he was a consummate newspaperman, and a personal hero to this writer whom he hired here 36 years ago, back when we were corporately known as the Boston Herald Traveler.”

8/19/06: “Jewell, a security guard at those Games, had originally been hailed as a hero for spotting the bomb and steering citizens away from it before it exploded, killing one and injuring 111 others.”

9/11/06: “Photographer Matt West was about to be sent to cover the story, except he was already on his way as the son of Peter West, whom he regarded as ‘my hero,’ a municipal bond trader on the 104th floor of the first tower hit.”

9/23/06: “‘But other than that, I don’t think I ever saw my father when he wasn’t whistling with a grin on his face. Whenever I was with him I could feel a calmness falling over me. My mother called him a saint, but to me he was my hero.'”

10/28/06: “[ML] King was a personal hero at this address, where his memory is honored and his impact endures.”

10/30/06: “‘I feel sorry for kids today,’ he once noted. ‘When I was a kid we had heroes. Today kids have celebrities. There’s a big difference. We used to admire performance. Now we admire flair.’ Red made that observation in a book we did together, never even imagining he was a hero of mine.”

11/27/06: “It’s also no surprise he’s their hero.”

12/13/06: “Some smiled and others nodded their heads, fully aware the work they do, while every bit as perilous, does not get the same respect firefighters enjoy, unless of course a cop dies, in which case everyone’s quick to acknowledge he was indeed a hero.”

2/7/07: “That’s what Alex Fuller did, and that’s why his little girl will always have the distinction of being the daughter of an American hero.”

4/11/07: “‘I can still see the way he looked at me,’ he recalled 10 months later, upon hearing that Adam had died. ‘He couldn’t take his eyes off the uniform, as if I were some kind of a hero.'”

6/18/07: “Jeff Colby went to visit his hero yesterday, though that’s not the way he might have expressed it if you’d met him years ago. ‘Like every 17-year-old,’ this Boston Arts Academy music teacher recalled with dismay, ‘I thought I knew more than my father. In fact, I thought he was foolish in many ways. But as years went by I began looking at him differently, realizing how lucky I was to have him, how truly extraordinary he was. He went from being my father to being my friend to being my hero.'”

6/30/07: “Bootsie Harris remembers the day her hero stood where she stood yesterday, in the eye of a thunderous ovation, as colleagues, friends and proteges gathered to bestow a touch of immortality.”