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All I Want For Christmas

December 21, 2018

There is so much controversy around media and Christmas, and it seems to be growing. Part of me thinks that people just like to argue for the sake of arguing. For what it’s worth, I totally think that Die Hard is a Christmas movie; and while I recognize that Baby It’s Cold Outside is problematic, so are a lot of great songs from the past. I think one can enjoy a creative work, and still struggle with its content.

Then you have the flip side. Songs that are wretched, but charming. You know like All I Want for Christmas (Is My Two Front Teeth). It’s the message. The idealism. The simple request. The thing the singer just can’t have, but would love more than any consumer product.

This week, we’ve talked about some of the experiences you can give to your friends and loved ones this Christmas. But today I want to talk about the one thing I want, that nobody can provide.

Maybe you heard yesterday that All Over Albany will be coming to an end.

December 31 will the the last day new content is added to the site. The plan is to leave their archive online. That means all the stories I’ve written for them over the years will be preserved. I’m thankful for that. However, like many people who live in the Capital Region today—or who have lived in the Capital Region over these past ten years—I’m thankful for so much more.

All Over Albany made the Capital Region a better place.

One could say it was the writing and the editorial direction of the site. Greg really wanted to focus on what was great, interesting, and unique about the Capital Region.

When I moved here, there was so much negativity about Albany and the Capital Region, and much of that came from the residents themselves. Even today, one of the common refrains you’ll hear about Albany is that “it’s a great place to live because it’s just three hours from Boston, Montreal, and New York City.”

While I understand that people truly mean that as a compliment, when the best thing about a place is how easy it is to escape for a more cosmopolitan experience, that’s not good.

AOA focused on what was remarkable about the Capital Region, and would offer reasons to stay. The early days of the Eat This series focussed on some of the area’s classics, like the hot chocolate at Mrs. London’s, pizza at DeFazio’s, doughboys at Esperanto, pierogi at Muza, bread at Perreca’s, cheesecake at Cheesecake Machismo, lemon ice at Civitello’s, and more.

Ten years after those original recommendations, I would still sing the praises of those places today. And I’m constantly amazed at how many people who live in the region still do not know about some of the most delicious things we have within the area.

Beyond its content though, the other thing All Over Albany created was a community.

The Capital Region can feel like a place that’s owned by the old timers. And that’s not without its charms. However, new people—with new ideas—are moving here all the time. One of the highlights of the year was always the All Over Albany birthday party. Because it brought together all the thoughtful, interesting, and passionate people who contributed not just articles to the site, but also commentary.

AOA Greg did a heroic job in moderating comments and setting a good example of civility on the Internet. It’s almost unheard of in the modern era.

Mary, of course, was the one who made all the AOA dreams come true. Even though more of her work was behind the scenes, working with businesses and advertisers to keep this small and independent media property thriving in a sea of uncertainty. Let’s not forget, this was a website that launched in the Capital Region when many local businesses had literally zero internet presence.

Some of the best old school places still are surprisingly behind the times.

Without All Over Albany, I would not be where I am now. From helping to promote the blog when it first launched, to inviting my participation in the Tournament of Pizza, to offering me my first paid food writing gig, Mary and Greg have been incredible supporters, mentors, and coaches. And they are just both incredible smart, dedicated, and sincere human beings.

Here’s the amazing thing. I’m just one of many many people who feel the exact same way. How many lives have these two touched and improved with this ten year project? I couldn’t tell you. What I do know, is that I owe these two a great debt of gratitude, and wish them nothing but success in whatever is to come.

While I totally understand their decision to shutter AOA, it’s a loss. Not just for me, and for those who love it. It’s a loss for the community, Albany, and the greater Capital Region. That may sound like hyperbole for a small local website run by two people, but it’s true.

There’s nothing quite like it, and nothing can take its place.

Selfishly, all I want for Christmas is to have AOA back. But that’s not going to happen. So instead, I’ll offer my best wishes to Greg and Mary, and hope to find some way to stay connected to those local voices and fans of the Capital Region life somewhere else on the interwebs.

11 Comments leave one →
  1. omaxwell permalink
    December 21, 2018 12:14 pm

    I’m another person who feels exactly the same way. Sad to lose AOA but grateful for all that Mary and Greg have given us.

  2. December 21, 2018 12:29 pm

    Thank you, Daniel. Not just for this appreciation, but also for all your contributions to AOA. I’m grateful to have met you, worked with you, and most of all shared more than a few meals with you.

  3. -R. permalink
    December 21, 2018 12:56 pm

    A fine paean to a place I visit(ed) on a daily basis. I shall miss them, their stories and their enthusiasm for the entire Capital Region, and wish them the best of luck in their future endeavors.

  4. Ewan permalink
    December 21, 2018 1:08 pm

    As you said.

  5. December 21, 2018 1:13 pm

    Agreed. I owe them connections and a sense of belonging, and a place to go on the internet for to-do recommendation that I completely trust. I get it AND I’m sad.

  6. albanylandlord permalink
    December 21, 2018 1:37 pm

    The outpouring of thanks, despair, and well wishing in the comments on their website are a testament to how much of an impact they have on so many people. You should read the comments – they are not just quick blurbs, they are really heartfelt.

  7. December 21, 2018 3:24 pm

    As a grew-up-here, forced-to-go-to-private-Catholic-all-girls-school, local Capital Region human, I am so thankful I have you in my life, Daniel, for many of the reasons you listed above. I’ve been trying to give this place a new perspective and you’ve brought me about 80% of the way there with your constant redirection and suggestions. Happy Holidays, especially Latke Season (Hanukkah). We’re very happy you’re here.

  8. David Nardolillo permalink
    December 21, 2018 6:42 pm

    Agree with everything you have written, Daniel. I would add that AOA did a lot of traditional journalism, too, filling in gaps that local papers didn’t bother to cover. I am thinking especially of their coverage of local planning boards and development controversies. The writing was excellent and clearly explained the legal ins and outs of many planning board issues.

    AOA also treated the reader with respect. The other traditional media outlets seem to fall further into the techniques to generate website hits and struggle to keep writing and headlines free from various slants. AOA was more about educating the reader about the issue and letting the audience make their own judgments. To say that it will be missed is the understatement of the year.

  9. Dave permalink
    December 22, 2018 8:09 am

    Maybe someone will step up to the plate and take over?
    Sure will miss AOA

  10. Eric Scheirer Stott permalink
    December 27, 2018 8:22 am

    I think we should give AOA a dinner to thank them.


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