S'more (essay excerpt)

by Debbie Hagan


It was the most beautiful day of that summer—blue sky, billowy clouds, and a dandelion-bright sun. Strange, though, we were the only ones enjoying it at the state park.

My father stood over a campfire roasting hot dogs, while my mother and I pushed marshmallows onto skewers. My two high-strung preschoolers ran amok. We’d arranged the picnic hoping they’d run off some of this energy and go to bed early.

Connor, my five-year-old, grabbed one of the sticks my father had cleaned and sharpened for the marshmallows, raised it over his head, and shouted to his four-year-old brother, “It’s morphin’ time. Wham. Bam.”

Kyle shrieked, sharp like a coach’s whistle. My neck muscles twitched as the boys ran round and round the campsite.


“Stop it,” I yelled, trying to hold a skewer of marshmallows over the coals.



“This is a story about educational courage, about a law school for working-class people of all ages, that challenges the orthodoxy of the profession with its unique vision.”

          -- Howard Zinn, A People’s History of the United States


“Debbie Hagan skillfully reconstructs the true story of how working-class democracy confronted a narrowly elitist, selfishly deceptive American Bar Assn. A superb book more compelling than most novels….”

          --Michael Parenti, The Assassination of Julius Caesar


"In a style reminiscent of Tracy Kidder, freelance journalist Hagan conjures up a number of the colorful characters who helped launch MSL in the late '80s. Among the more flamboyant actors in this legal drama is Michael Boland, who founded MSL's immediate predecessor, the Commonwealth School of Law. Although it quickly shut down, due to Boland's mismanagement, he made at least one good move in hiring Lawrence Velvel as dean. By Hagan's account, Velvel, who has made a career out of his contrarian positions, was ideally suited to be dean of the fledgling school."

          --Kirkus Review excerpt


Writer for 2014 New Hampshire chapter



Introduction by Debbie Hagan


(Excerpt from essay)

Maybe it’s legend, but Bostonians tell the story of 1630, when Puritan John Winthrop, sailing towards land, admonished Massachusetts Bay colonists, “we must consider that we shall be as a City upon a Hill, the eyes of all people are upon us.” Determined to live up to this great ideal, colonists shaped Boston into a premiere port, shipbuilding center, and commercial hub. Fine craftsmen--copper plate engravers, portrait artists, and furniture makers lined the streets. By 1775, the city’s fiercely independent citizens rallied against a controlling government and fired the shot heard around the world.


Thus, independence has long defined this city, its founders consisting of thinkers and action-takers--people who left their families and possessions to follow a dream. This determined, can-do spirit, passed through generations, still exists in artists today.  “The most commonly heard complaint is that it’s sleepy,” wrote Dushko Petrovich in “How to Start an Art Revolution: A Manifesto for Boston,” which appeared in the Boston Globe in 2010. “Viewed from a slightly different angle, however, the local art scene looks remarkably like a sleeping giant. Boston’s artistic resources are unparalleled for a city of its size: several great museums, a superabundance of universities, many galleries, a highly educated and sophisticated audience, and a density that allows for the most important element of cultural life: interaction between creative people.....”


Boston’s art history is long and begins with its schools--Harvard, founded in 1636 (the country’s first institute of higher learning), and then Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Boston College, the School of the Museum of Fine Art, Massachusetts College of Art, and Boston University--all with exceptional artist alumni.