Monday, August 07, 2006

Fifteen Minutes

I am now famous.

On July 31st I was interviewed by The Daily Item of Lynn, our local newspaper, for possibly a series of articles about the new residents of the downtown area. Somehow I ended up being the first. I thank The Item for the privilege of having my voice heard by a larger audience, and feel honored for receiving and am humbled by the comments, feedback, reception, and constructive criticism I've received from my readers and, most importantly, my fellow neighbors.

What follows is the text from the article, but first I have three clarifications. None of which are failings of Jill Casey. It's hard to get all the details in a short interview, but you know how much details mean to me.

First, calling me a native of South Korea is not very accurate. I was born there, in the south of South Korea, but lived there only the first 6 years of my life, and I'm only half Korean. The rest of me is American - German / Norwegian to be specific. I had blonde hair up until about 12 - puberty changes you a great deal. I lived equally long in Georgia through the late seventies and early eighties. Does that make me a southerner? I guess if you add the two together you get the simple term for what I am - a hick.

Second, although I do look over my shoulder at night, it's not out of fear of physical danger. I'm just paranoid by nature, and really-really-really nosey. With the break-in to our storage area still fresh in my mind, I'm also looking for anybody suspicious. Central Square is safe. It looks rough, but it really isn't.

Here is the article. Thank you for reading.

Man's lofty tales tell the story of life in a changing Lynn
By Jill Casey Wednesday, August 2, 2006 LYNN -

As a kid, Mark Miller was an army brat who moved from city to city and coast to coast as his father's assignments changed.

The South Korean native, whose father was in the U. S. military, lived and traveled to many places, likely experiencing and seeing what most people don't in an entire lifetime.

But somehow, of all the places in the world he's been to, Miller wound up owning a loft in Lynn and being a part of a wave of newcomers looking for an alternative to Boston's high prices and congested neighborhoods.

"(Lynn) certainly feels the most industrious out of all the places I've been - and the edgiest," said the 36-year-old in between sips of peach iced tea while sitting in his Central Square loft Monday night. "There is a very strong sense of community here. And especially being new, there's a strong sense of community among (us loft owners)... we tend to gravitate to the same places and have the same tastes."

Miller has taken to his new community quite well over the last year, he says. On weeknights, he'll grab a beer or a glass a wine at new restaurants like the Gulu-Gulu Café or the Oxford Street Grill after a busy day at work. And on the weekends, he's a beachcomber who hunts for hermit crabs while walking Lynn and Nahant beaches.

Miller's experience in the last year hasn't been one long walk on the beach though, he says. The street and property crimes in his new neighborhood are an issue. His building has been broken into once in the past year and Miller said he often looks over his shoulder if he's walking in Central Square after dark.

But for the most part, Miller said he likes living in Lynn and has even started writing about it. When he ran into some issues with his loft being unfinished, he felt helpless and decided to start a blog - a type of Web site diary where entries are made and displayed for others to read.

"Lynn Lofts, the Skinny," became both a forum for his displeasure with the developers of his condo, The Mayo Group, and an online diary about his experiences being a first-time homeowner in Lynn. Now neighbors respond to his postings and often ask him to update it.

"Word just got out and requests for more information came in. Then I found out people from the Mayo Group read it," Miller said. "Honestly, I don't know if it's had any impact."

Some are not so sure it's had zero impact.

Steve Feldmann, owner of the Gulu-Gulu Café and a fellow Central Square resident, thinks it has contributed to the Mayo Group moving forward with some repairs on the building, which also houses Feldmann's café.

"Mark had a bone to pick with the Mayo Group, and in some respects they are fixing up the building," Feldmann said. "People who don't normally have a voice do now, with blogs. I think Mark has been able to accomplish that with his."

If Miller's not updating his neighbors on progress in the building on the blog, he's musing about his long-term vision for the city he now calls home.

Alfresco dining, a farmers market complete with fish mongers tossing around whole salmon like Pike's Place Market in Seattle, and a little wine shop that passes around brie cheese and Pinot Noir samples are just a few ideas that might elevate the city's notorious image to a more desirable location for young professionals, Miller thinks.

"I'm very confident that those types of businesses can do well," he said. "Lowell Gray (owner of the Oxford Street Grill) is one good example of that and so is Gulu Gulu Steve Feldman."

A recent posting on his blog,, illustrates Miller's humor and formula for progress downtown.

"We are an ocean town after all. That's what I love about Lynn. It's location, old architecture, and eclectic collection of people provide tremendous opportunities to build something great, enduring, useful, and different. Add some motivated people, some cash, heavy dose of city-council help, and the mind of someone with vision and good taste - stir, bake at 400-farenheit for 5 years, and insert toothpick to check for doneness... Make sure you use an air-bake pan."


Nawth Shaw said...

Perhaps, you - in your capacity as the security- and civic-minded resident that you seem to be - would be able to direct me (a fellow transplant to Lynn) to a reliable and comprehensive online police blotter detailing municipal sins committed within Lynn.

As you probably know, the Item provides this information only in its print edition (doubtless, in order to encourage subscriptions and newsstand sales); this, despite the fact that both the Marblehead Reporter and the Swampscott Reporter furnish thorough crime and fire statistics, for their respective towns, on the same Town Online site that the Item occupies. Yet, one would think that their policies, in this regard, ought to be uniform.

Now, if the Item feels like withholding obituary details or the funnies from us online holdouts, that's one thing. Keeping its readers - from whatever source - in the dark, about local crime trends, however, is a shabby practice, indeed. More discouraging, still, is the absence of such statistics, where one, logically, might expect to find them: To wit, the City of Lynn Police Department web page(s). I'd like to think that I merely have navigated the site too cursorily to notice them biting me, right in the ass, . . . .

. . . But, since my gluteus max appears intact, I'm appealing to you, or one of your readers, to reveal other online locations I may have overlooked.

Thanks, in advance, for any and all recommendations.

Marcus said...


Also try:

The old Lynn police department website once had a map of all calls and statistics by ward. For some reason this information is no-longer available. Most unfortunate.