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Turning Canton Square into Scunny Square: remembering a legend

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Turning Canton Square into Scunny Square: remembering a legend

Posted on 28 August 2012 by Nestor Aparicio

You never know when or where you’ll find yourself when news breaks. That’s what we all tell ourselves as journalists and over the years I’ve found the toughest “breaking news” happens when it involves my friends and tragedy.

The date August 24th has been a rough day for me two consecutive years running. Last year I was on my couch watching the Orioles play when I learned in the early evening of the death of Mike Flanagan. This past Friday night and into Saturday morning I was awakened on a summer vacation in Moncton, Canada to learn that another friend had died unexpectedly while I was asleep.

In the era of social media and via the power to propel information into the palms of our hands from anywhere in the world, I learned of the death of my friend Scunny on my mobile phone in the middle of New Brunswick while having morning coffee.

In the hours following, my Facebook and Twitter feeds exploded with condolences, memories and immense cyber sadness regarding the passing of a giant in our community, a guy who we all kind of took for granted and thought would be immortal.

I also learned about the power of  love in the world — a life well lived — and the legend of a man whose death dominated every corner of my friendship, business and civic circle in Baltimore. “Smalltimore” works that way and it’s especially illuminated in our time by the internet.

I’m convinced “Scunny” was the Kevin Bacon of our city, once removed from virtually every person in town.

For those of you who didn’t know him – and I’m not really sure that’s really possible that you could be from the Charm City and not know him because he seemingly knew everyone  – Patrick “Scunny” McKusker owned Nacho Mama’s (and later created Mama’s On The Half Shell) and was truly a one-of-a-kind Baltimore character, restaurant owner, entrepreneur, civic champion, charitable soul and part-time beer drinker and philosopher.

Scunny died on Friday night just a few blocks from his Ocean City beach home while riding his bicycle that collided with a bus. He leaves behind a wonderful wife and two children.

There are varying reports about what happened and there’s an investigation going on as his tangled myriad of friends, peers, loved ones, family members and many patrons are left investigating this unthinkable tragedy that we all learned about at some point in the middle of our blessed lives on a Saturday morning.

I’m not really sure where to begin but writing is my therapy at times like these.

I met Scunny at Nacho Mama’s (like almost everyone else) when I began my radio career in the early 1990’s and was recruiting sponsors.

Scunny and I had a whole lot in common. We both loved beer. We both loved the Orioles. We both missed the Colts. We both welcomed and immediately loved the Ravens. We both loved Baltimore.

Scunny was missing a finger.

I was missing a finger.

Every time we ever saw each other he insisted that we “touch nubs” before we parted. It was our bond, right along with his amazing salsa and the soft chicken tacos that I’ve tackled at least a hundred times.

The stories about his generosity have been well chronicled and it was impossible to know him and not know about his work with Believe In Tomorrow. He also hired developmentally challenged people and gave them jobs and a purpose. He was a sweet man who would’ve won any “Character Bowl” competition John Steadman would’ve

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My Top 51 Bruce Springsteen songs…in perfect order

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My Top 51 Bruce Springsteen songs…in perfect order

Posted on 30 March 2012 by Nestor Aparicio

There aren’t many bands in the world where you can make a legitimate argument for making a Top 50 and still be throwing at least 50 more great songs OFF THE LIST…but then again, Bruce Springsteen is no “ordinary” artist.

Maybe for the Rolling Stones, U2 and a few others you could make this kind of list, but Bruce Springsteen is certainly about as prolific a songwriter as there’s ever been in our lifetime. And then factor in the wide variety of versions of all of his songs, and well, like I said it’s HARD to think of 50 GREAT songs by any artist.

So, with sincere respect to Drew Forrester and all the Springsteen fans everywhere who might read this, here’s one Bruce fan’s look at my personal favorites over the years. Honestly, the whole Top 20 here at some point was “my favorite Bruce song” of any particular era or year.

But this is how it stands on the eve of Bruce Springsteen and The E Street coming back to the area after a few years away…and some liner notes…

Nestor’s Top 51 Bruce Springsteen songs…in perfect order!
51. Glory Days — Obvious baseball reference here
50. The Promised Land — Mister I ain’t a boy, no I’m a man
49. Ain’t Got You — I’m a massive fan of the TOL album, which kicks off with this one
48. No Surrender — We learned more from a three minute record than we ever learned in school
47. My Hometown — Great haunting melody
46. Spare Parts — Particularly poignant, having been a teenage parent myself
45. Girls In Their Summer Clothes — The Boss’ ode to beautiful women in the September of his years
44. Waiting On a Sunny Day — A hopelessly happy song and Bruce hams it up in concert
43. Out In The Street — I walk the way I wanna walk
42. Working On a Dream — This one is still a little “young” for me, but I do love this song and what it stands for
41. Because The Night — Patti Smith rocks!
40. Pink Cadillac — Waving to the girls, feeling outta sight
39. Ramrod — Great guitar riff that Lofgren calls a dinosaur
38. Badlands — Poor man wanna be rich, rich man wanna be king, And a king ain’t satisfied till he rules everything (see Angelos, Peter G.)
37. Cadillac Ranch — Another rocker… “Long and dark, shiny and black”
36. Prove It All Night — What it’s like to live and die
35. Point Blank — Haunting ballad, great groove
34. Be True — He played this the first night I ever saw him at the Spectrum in Philly, a B-side I love that Ken Rosenthal once gave me on 45
33. If I Should Fall Behind — Beautifully performed live song in the encore about love & friendship
32. The Rising — Bruce’s fall epic yields an infectious title track
31. Fire — Pointers Sisters did a nice job…You say you don’t like it, but girl I know you’re a liar
30. Downbound Train — Now I work down at the carwash where all it ever does is rain
29. Rosalita — I know your daddy, he don’t dig me ’cause I play in a rock ‘n roll band
28. Dancing In The Dark — My lifetime crush on Courtney Cox continues, she still “starts a fire”
27. One Step Up — Last night I dreamed I held you in my arms, the music was never-ending
26. Hungry Heart — Got a wife and kids in Baltimore, Jack

Here’s video of Bruce Springsteen calling me a dummy:

 

Go to Page 2 for the Top 25…

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