Editor's note: Is it odd that I would interview a journalist who covered the area for a different media outlet? Maybe. But as Zack's answers will prove to you - the Parkway area became a part of him, and he's got some good stories to tell about his time covering the area. Personally, I also have enjoyed my time sharing coverage with Zack and will miss not seeing him at fires, neighborhood association meetings or just around town.
Patch: You recently left your position covering the Parkway area - how long did you cover the area?
Huffman: Almost three years. I started at the West Roxbury/Roslindale Bulletin in November, 2009.
Patch: What are you doing now?
Huffman: I just completed my second week as a news writer for the Boston Courant. I’m covering Fenway-Kenmore and Beacon Hill.
Patch: What was your favorite thing about West Roxbury? Roslindale?
Huffman: Gary’s Liquors.
Actually, the honest answer is that in West Roxbury, while it may take a little longer to get people to open up, once they know you, you’re golden.
I also like how civically engaged so many of the Parkway residents are. I like talking about politics and I never struggled to find someone willing to chat on that subject.
Patch: What is your proudest journalist moment from your time covering the area?
Huffman: Most recently, it has to be my coverage of the Edward J. Hogan Memorial campaign in the Washington-Grove area. Hogan was a Vietnam veteran who passed away in 2010 from Lymphoma, which was the likely result of his exposure to Agent Orange in Vietnam.
His family was trying to get the city to support a memorial for him, considering that he died as a result of serving his country, which is how the federal government classified it after finally recognizing the horrific impacts of Agent Orange in 2010.
I like to think that my coverage, as well as that of the Transcripts and Patch, helped pressure city government to at least allow the installation of a memorial at Draper Field.
Patch: Can you recall the funniest thing for you doing your job? Maybe a story you covered, a meeting, someone telling you about how aliens land in their backyard all the time...
Huffman: There is one West Roxbury guy (who I really hope doesn’t read this) I met while reporting on a story involving some property he owns.
About two weeks after the story ran he calls me up and says he wants me to come to his place that morning because he has a business proposal – and he also wanted me to bring him a six-pack of beer.
So of course I had to meet him. While simultaneously drinking three of the beers (he kept forgetting he already had an open one) he tells me about this screenplay idea he has that he wants me to write. After about an hour of his rambling about busing and getting into fights with kids from Roslindale when he was a teenager, I politely said I had to get back to my office.
For about the next few months he would leave me long voicemails about new bizarre writing projects he wanted to collaborate with me on. I still have some of those recordings saved.
Patch: Do you have a scariest moment?
Huffman: I think the closest thing to a scary moment for me was when I once got lost in the Grove. I thought my car was going to become yet another victim of the Grove’s potholes.
There was also the time that I thought I had accidently gotten Richie Gormley furious at me, but it was all a misunderstanding that we smoothed out.
Patch: You and I have been at a lot of meetings together - did you have a favorite meeting to attend? Neighborhood association, WRNC, etc. Why?
Huffman: West Roxbury Civic & Improvement Association, hands down. Olivia Waishek is the kindest iron-fisted ruler I’ve ever met. She pretty much has to be, considering the number of strong-willed outspoken people who frequent the monthly WRC&IA meeting.
Patch: What's your favorite topic to write about? why?
Huffman: I tend to really get into anything that involves data and research for some strange reason. For example, anything that requires me to dig through the Inspectional Services Department’s permit database or the Secretary of State database of land deeds.
Patch: What's your favorite place to eat in the Parkway?
Huffman: I’ve followed a vegan diet for about 12 years now, so that rules out a lot of the restaurants in the Parkway.
My favorite thing to get is probably the falafel wrap from Cristelle’s Pizza. Koko makes a wrap like nobody’s business.
Aside from that, I have to admit to have spent plenty of cash on veggie burgers from the Real Deal and I’ve always liked Wapo Taco in Roslindale Village – it helps that they offer veggie “ground beef” for the tacos and burritos.
Patch: You've covered many politicians through your years in the Parkway - who do you think would win in a royal rumble between Marian Walsh, Mike Rush, Ed Coppinger, Matt O'Malley, John Tobin, Rob Consalvo and Maura/Jim Hennigan (they wrestle as a team - or do they?!)? I'd go with Rush due to his military background.
Huffman: That’s a tough call. I’m not sure Mike Rush would be an effective brawler because he’s usually encumbered by his Iraq photo album. Ed Coppinger almost always has a kid in tow, which may be endearing to folks in West Roxbury, can be a liability in a royal rumble.
Matt O’Malley is probably the most athletic and you can tell Rob Consalvo has a solid haymaker.
If anyone can talk their way out of the fight, it would be John Tobin, and there’s no guarantee that Marian Walsh would even show up.
So that leaves the Hennigan siblings. Considering his annual Salvation Army Kettle Campaign, you know Jim Hennigan can attract a crowd of supporters to help him win the fight – but watch out Jim, once it’s down to just you and Maura, that’s when double-crosses happen.
Patch: Anything else you'd like to share?
Huffman: I really appreciate all of the support I’ve gotten from the community in doing my job for three years.
You can’t be a successful journalist unless people are willing to talk to you.
Also, don’t ever tell Stephen Smith that you root for a non-Boston team. He will always remind you when your team loses. I get it Stephen; Georgia Tech Football is struggling this season.