September 24 ē 01:34 AM

The secret lives of Tri-City Timers

December 30, 2009
It's been an interesting year, one that's included a lot of upheaval and uncertainty for many of us.

But amid all that upheaval and uncertainty there is a constant that I can count on. And if you're a reader, you can too. That is the Tri-City Times staff.

I know it may seem self-serving and maybe even boastful, but I work with the greatest bunch of people known to man. I kid you not. They're the best in the business. A "small but mighty" bunch that I'm lucky to be involved with.

I'll start with Assistant Editor Maria Brown—the remarkable one with the remarkable memory. She can recall almost to the exact day when a story or photo ran, and we're talking years ago. Those that blur together in the passage of time don't leave Maria's file cabinet of a memory bank.

Maria has already logged more than five years here, and with each passing year she brings more and more to the table. A 'junior' amongst our--ahem--somewhat 'senior' staff, Maria shares a fresh perspective to things; gives a valued opinion or idea on a new angle and provides input from a younger generation that's like a shot in the arm for the paper. Maria knows a lot about a wide variety of things, and is top notch when it comes to the farm and food issues. (She was named Ag Communicator of the Year twice by Farm Bureau). I won't dwell on the fact that she also helps us less-techy-types figure out these newfangled machines...

She's an adventuresome Master Gardener and part-time farmer, raising cattle with her husband Tim. Maria's also an excellent photographer—readers and the Michigan Press Association already know that (she took first place in the News Picture category this year). But I am here to tell you that her nature photos—flowers, insects, animals—are breathtaking and delightful.

A lifelong resident, Maria came back to the area after college to pursue a writing career and I feel lucky and grateful that she made that decision.

Then there's Tom "Tommy-Boy" Wearing, writer and human-being extraordinaire. Anyone who knows him knows that that's the truth. Period. Tommy-Boy is one of a kind.

Along with almost two decades as an award-winning writer and editor, Tom has had a long, successful career as a musician. He currently plays with at least three—maybe four—different bands. Paying gigs. If you've ever heard him you understand why. He is an outstanding drummer and musician. Some, but not many, know about the hit record he cut back in the '60s with the Tidal Waves, a "garage rock" band. The song was 'Farmer John.' This is what has to say about the group: "The Tidal Waves were a quintet from the Detroit area made up of Bob Slap, Bill Long, Mark Karpinski, and Tom and Jon Wearing. The group was part of a vibrant southern Michigan band scene that also included acts like The Pleasure Seekers, The Underdogs, The Unrelated Segments, and The Rationals, as well as a young and punkier Bob Seger, playing clubs like the Hideout, the Crows Nest, The Hullabaloos (actually a chain of clubs), the Fifth Dimension, and the Pumpkin, scattered around the southern part of the state.

"The Tidal Waves were actually among the best of them, despite their youth (three of their members were in junior high when they started out in 1965). They had a hard, aggressive attack on their instruments (which, surprisingly for a band as punk sounding as this one, included a saxophone, ala the Kingsmen) and three strong (if not necessarily "good") singers, and a good sense of melody and what to do with it. Their debut single, "Farmer John" b/w "She Left Me All Alone," was recorded in January of 1966 and made No. 1 on the local charts in Detroit later that year. The group, with some line-up changes (Dennis Mills came in on guitar, and also wrote their third single "Action! Speaks Louder Than Words," released two more singles before calling it quits in 1967. Six of their songs were reissued by Collectables in 1998, paired off with the music of The Unrelated Segments on a CD called 'Where You Gonna Go?'—amazingly, good as the Segments' stuff is (and it is), the Tidal Waves are even better, with a sound vaguely similar to the early Who (check out the guitar break on "She's My Woman" and see if it doesn't remind you of "The Good's Gone")."


Isn't that amazing? How lucky am I to work with such talented and unique individuals. And I've just scratched the surface. As space allows I'll share more insight and tidbits about the Tri-City Timers—some of us are getting to be 'old timers,' too!

Happy New Year to everyone. I'm sending the good vibes that 2010 is better for all.

Email Catherine at

Catherine Minolli is Managing Editor of the Tri-City Times. She began as a freelance writer with the Times in 1994. She enjoys the country life, including raising ducks and chickens.
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