Andy Warhol said we’d all get 15 minutes of fame, but he was a visual artist. In editorial terms we figure that comes to about 150 words. So, here are 34 Granite Staters from all walks of life who, with guts and grit (and a little grace), have earned their place among the stars. Meet our “It List” for 2006.
Bad Girl Makes Good
Sarah Silverman is only 36, but Time magazine just placed her on a list with grand masters Richard Pryor and Bob Newhart as one of six “Standouts of Stand-up Comedy.” After a bunch of scene-stealing movie roles, she perfects her bitchy, sardonic girlfriend persona in her latest film, “School For Scoundrels.” She placed #50 in Maxim magazine’s “2006 Hot List,” squeezed between Naomi Watts and Britany Murphy (now there’s an image!). Her DVD “Jesus is Magic” is selling well and she wowed the critics with her deadpan delivery in the trés filthy “The Aristocrats.” In short, Sarah Silverman of Bedford is at the top of her game and rising. Not bad for a kid who got her start starring as “Annie” for the Community Players of Concord.
Sly Fox of Saturday Night
Seth Meyers, 33, has remained one of the most consistently engaging members of the “Saturday Night Live” cast since joining the famous TV comedy troupe in 2001. This year he’s become SNL head writer and joined the illustrious Weekend Update desk, alongside blonde “brain-bo” Amy Poehler. He has two films in the works: “Spring Breakdown” — currently filming — and “Key Party,” which he is writing. Like Sarah Silverman, he’s from Bedford and went to high school in Manchester. He keeps strong ties to his home turf. He gave his $100,000 prize from a Celebrity Poker Showdown to the Boston-based Jimmy Fund, and when fans ask for tickets to SNL, his stock reply is, “I’m still working through my list of friends from West High.”
Chris and Walter Chapin
Their signature is bright, bold patterns and colors. Whether it’s an area rug, bedspread or throw pillow, you can spot the ones from Company C at 50 yards. Company creators Chris and Walter Chapin started small 10 years ago, selling handmade rugs to the design trade from their home in Concord. Then they, both lovers of color and design, started creating their own. Today they have 40 employees and 900 dealers worldwide. The Chapins say they found a niche in a marketplace that offered products that were mostly dull and traditional. “We offered something a little more exciting,” says Chris. And they do it all according to socially responsible business practices.
Nexus of Political News
Dr. Bill Siroty of Amherst is not a psychiatrist, but he does a quick self-diagnosis when asked why he provides a free online news service to subscribers all over New Hampshire (and to lots of Beltway insiders).
“Probably because I’m nuts,” says the news doctor, whose real job is with Harvard Pilgrim Health Care. Siroty got involved in the news business while working on the Bill Bradley campaign for president in 2000. “It expanded from Bradley news to New Hampshire politics and national politics.” He will soon be running a national news service. But will he be “fair and balanced”? “I’m trying to be,” said the doctor of non-partisan medicine.
Setting the Table for the Seacoast
Five years and four restaurants after he opened Portsmouth’s Jumpin’ Jay’s Fish Café, Jay McSharry, 39, is a major player in the hot Seacoast food scene, with restaurants that run from Mexican mod to Asian Fusion, local farm-to-table fare to creative Italian. Throw in a few hopping martini and hip music bars with Dover Soul and The Red Door and there’s not much McSharry hasn’t tried and made a success by building solid partnerships and growing great concepts. He gives back to the community, too. As one of the long time leaders of Seacoast Share Our Strength, he organizes other restaurateurs and chefs to help stop hunger all year long.
There were early indications of what was to come. In his senior year in college, Rusty McLear started a restaurant. Because he only had $1,000 there wasn’t enough money for decorating. The solution? He called the restaurant The Gallery and invited local artists to cover the walls with their artwork. In the years since then, McLear, now 60, has used his considerable entrepreneurial skills to create The Inns & Spa at Mill Falls in Meredith — a complex of upscale inns, restaurants and shops. The development helped spur a renaissance in the historic resort town, though McLear says “the town and townspeople are more responsible than I have been.” His latest restoration project — a new inn in an old mill in Claremont.
Entrepreneur of Edge
“If I stay with one thing I get bored very easily,” says Jon Thomas, 40, owner of Alternative Sun/Spider-Bite Piercing and Tattoo in Manchester. Well, that explains how what started as a tanning and piercing salon evolved to offer tattooing, a full-service hair salon and extensive retail offerings. Oh, you can also rent the Spider-Bite limo or tune into Spiderbiteradio.com, an online music station that’s been playing up-and-comers like of Josh Logan and Angry Hill for years. Over 1,500 people came out to help celebrate Spider-Bite’s 10-year anniversary this August. “I got into this business because I didn’t think it was a fad,” says Thomas. Here’s to keeping things interesting.
John Herman is a creative whirlwind on the Seacoast, with his improv comedy troupe, Stranger than Fiction, his mystery band, “The Man Who Was Thursday,” his theatre roles and his new weekly video podcast, “The Eye” (www.johnherman.org). He’s a comedian, cartoonist, filmmaker, music producer, show host, director, voice performer, writer and a few other assorted things. “It is always hard for me to categorize what I do,” says Herman. “I wear a lot of hats because a lot of things excite me.” And he manages to channel that multi-layered excitement into his class at Epping High School where he teaches Mass Media and Communication. His zeal recently landed a gift of three digital cameras and a computer from Internet visionary Jeff Pulver, to jumpstart a student multi-media project.
David Carroll, 64, belongs on a short list of naturalists who have peered into the microcosm of nature and thereby truly enlarged the world. With the eye of an artist, the mind of a scientist, the voice of a storyteller and the soul of a conservationist, he details the ecology of the forest and wetland habitats around New England, especially near his home in Warner. He has published four books detailing his expeditions, and illustrated with precise sketches and maps, including “Self-Portrait with Turtles” (2004), a memoir that describes his lifelong fascination with swamps and the creatures that inhabit them. His job is rewarding, but not lucrative, until this year when his work was recognized by a no-strings-attached MacArthur Foundation grant of $500,000. “I’m still in shock,” says Carroll, when asked about his plans.
Howard Mansfield and Sy Montgomery
It couple Sy Montgomery and Howard Mansfield are putting tiny Hancock, New Hampshire, on the map. Globe-trotting naturalist Sy has taken a break from her adventures to charm the world with the story of her pet, Christopher Hogwood, aka “The Good, Good Pig.” Her next book takes her back to the wilds, studying the Tree Kangaroos of the Cloud Forest (really!). Meanwhile, Howard is examining the spine (and nervous system) of civilization in his latest book, “The Bones of the Earth,” and his recent compilation of essays puts the Monadnock region on display in a colorful kaleidoscope (see review in UpFront). Both have used the microcosm in the backyard of their 120-year-old house as a tool to investigate the universe. Howard had this in mind from the moment he relocated to the Monadnock Region. “I was trying to see new things in the things I see every day,” he says. “To see if it’s possible to be a tourist of the near-at-hand.”
Maestro of Media
This summer, Mark Bodi was named as president of Griffin, Bodi & Krause — the state’s busiest and most famous ad agency — but you won’t find him tied to a desk. His passion is working in the trenches, forging gutsy deals that many people wouldn’t even think about and making sure that all the parties come out on top. He knows that the Manchester-based agency has 30 years of history and legend to live up to, but he’s laser focused on the future. “We are incubating a very exciting interactive program on behalf of two of our major accounts — a dynamic and heretofore unseen integration of both traditional and new media,” says Bodi. “It’s not as confidential as a Dean Kamen invention, but it’s nothing I can talk about right now.”
Ingredients for Success
Cooking is in her blood. Dad, two brothers and a sister are all in the restaurant biz, and last year Chef Mary Dumont of Portsmouth came home from creating great food in some of California’s finest restaurants to head up the kitchen at The Dunaway in Portsmouth’s Strawbery Banke. Named one of Food and Wine Magazine’s Ten Best New Chefs for 2006, she brings New England ingredients and West Coast flair into her cuisine, gathering fresh herbs and produce from historic gardens right behind the kitchen, even raising a pig for paté and hams. Going local also applies to Dumont’s work with Seacoast youth — she’s started an after-school program for teens to work in the garden and learn the art of local cuisine.
Fresh Face on the Food Scene
“People recognize me now and come up to me in the supermarket to tell me they’d just love to have my job. It’s a thrill!” says journalist Rachel Forrest, 42, from Exeter. Her restaurant review column, Dining Out, appears in the Portsmouth Herald’s entertainment guide and her Wine Me Dine Me column, also in that paper, is now a radio show on WSCA-FM in Portsmouth. She writes the Cheap Eats column for New Hampshire Magazine and she’s branching out to writing about authors, music and, of course, where to go out to eat. “If I can help people find a great place to enjoy fantastic food or introduce them to a new flavor experience I’m happy. I just have to keep going to the gym.”
Serving the Common Man
Ray started his restaurant empire, the Common Man Restaurants, with little capital in 1971. He built slowly and conservatively and at last count has 13 venues, from the Tilt’n Diner to the Lakehouse in Church Landing at Mill Falls. He must be one busy guy, but in September of 2005, Ray packed up a van with food and cooking utensils and headed for New Orleans, stopping to cook for the first needy people he found. Later, in December, he flew down with a wad of cash to hand out. A series of charity dinners at all his restaurants netted $108,000 for hurricane relief. And the charity events keep rolling. It’s not much of a business plan, but it seems to work for him — and for the countless folks he has helped along the way.
The Borealis Aurora
Meet Jesse Devitte, someone who can fuel your flights of entrepreneurial fancy.
“We provide the complementary skills that make it happen,” says Devitte, 50, who manages the Borealis venture capital fund out of Hanover and Concord. “Like recruiting people,” says Devitte, who helps entrepreneurs get past the chief cook-and-bottle-washer stage and get others working with and for their dreams. The Borealis Fund, now in its fifth year, has funded 12 ventures.
“Three of them have been acquired by much larger companies, which is a sign of success in the investment business.” Two Dartmouth professors started Glycofi Company six years ago and recently sold it to Merck for $400 million (see fellow “It Listers” Tillman U. Gerngross and Charles E. Hutchinson).
“It was a good day for Borealis and our investors,” says Devitte.
Portsmouth Little League
The True Boys of Summer
This summer all eyes were on 13 boys from Portsmouth — just the fourth New Hampshire team to ever go to the Little League World Series, or as coach Mark McCauley calls it, “baseball heaven.” Only eight teams from the U.S. make it to this pinnacle match. “To even think you could be one of them is beyond reality,” says McCauley. “But when you finally realize you’re going … when you get off the bus in Williamsport and look at Lamade Stadium … it’s just an amazing moment.” They didn’t make it to the championship game, but the boys’ amazing run continued into the semi-finals.
Live Free Legislator
Call state Rep. Neal Kurk, R-Weare, a “privacy freak” and he’ll want to know how you got that information.
“That’s what people who want to run rampant over privacy rights say,” Kurk fires back, claiming they want to make him a pariah. He seems determined to oblige, refusing to have his picture taken or to divulge such routine information as his age. He took a Patrick Henry stand earlier this year when fighting the Real ID pilot program for New Hampshire. Centralized databases do not agree with this “Live Free or Die” Republican, who believes he stands in his state’s proud and stubborn libertarian tradition.
“If I’m a privacy freak,” he says, “so are the people of New Hampshire.”
If you think the Audubon Society is only “for the birds,” you have not yet met Rick Minard, 51, who took over as president of New Hampshire Audubon in September of this year. The organization has taken a few P.R. hits in recent years, but Minard says the core of the organization is strong.
“We start with the kids,” he says, “with terrific environmental education programs all over the state — nature camps, we go to schools, we have field trips, they come to our center. We try to get kids excited about nature and knowledgeable about science.”
And Minard believes saving the environment is about human families, too. “If we don’t find housing for people, we won’t be able to protect the habitats for wildlife. We need to consider places for people to live and work as part of our ethic.”
Chef/owner on a Roll
Michael Buckley, 43, vowed to have his own restaurant by the time he was 30. He accomplished that with the opening of Michael Timothy’s Bistro and Jazz Bar in 1996 and then he went on to open Surf across the street in 2003 and most recently Buckley’s Great Steaks. Now, there are other restaurateurs with three or more restaurants, but Buckley is often at the pass or even on the line when necessary, running between venues. His commitment to quality has earned all three high praise while his love of fine wine has brought awards from the Wine Spectator. A full schedule of entertainment makes MT’s and Buckley’s the place to be. With his plate literally full, Buckley sometimes has to hustle just to keep up. Please look both ways, when crossing the street, Michael!
Maggie Stier, born in Exeter as Margaret Moody, was the first director of The Fells and helped put that Newbury site on the map among historic sites and public gardens in America. Now she is working for the New Hampshire Preservation Alliance and the National Trust for Historic Preservation to put the whole state on the map for innovative historic preservation. Her plans to convert some historic buildings into hospitality resources — places to meet, eat and even spend the night — has raised a few eyebrows, but with dwindling funds for upkeep of aging structures, many are ready to give the idea a try. It’s a successful model of preservation in Europe, she notes.
“I’m really passionate about preserving the character of New Hampshire,” she says, “and about opening people’s eyes to the beauty and wonder of both the natural and the built environments.”
Tillman Gerngross & Charles Hutchinson
Biotech Goes Boom
When Tillman U. Gerngross, 43, and Charles E. Hutchinson, 70, two Dartmouth College professors, started a little biotech company called Glycofi about six years ago, they set about developing a yeast-based technology that could serve as a platform for vaccines and cancer-fighting drugs. This year their company was purchased by pharmaceutical giant Merck for $400 million — the largest cash acquisition by a private company in the history of biotech. Neither is retiring, though. Hutchinson remains a teacher at the Thayer School of Engineering; Gerngross is planning to start some new companies. “The joke is that the way to make a small fortune in biotech is to start with a large fortune,” says Gerngross. “I’m interested in reversing that.”
Woman with a Plan
The fastest growing ethnic group in the state, and the country, is the Latin American population, which is actually composed of a dozen or so sub-groups, each with a strong sense of identity. But as newcomers to the Northeast, and, in many cases, to America, they are more vulnerable to economic tides. When one major employer closes down, as Jac-Pac did two years ago, the effects on Latinos across the board can be pretty devastating. The Department of Employment Security takes the situation so seriously they have launched their Latino Action Team and entrusted it to Marianne Rechy, head of their Somersworth office. “I want to help employers embrace diversity,” says Rechy, “but also to prepare for layoffs in the future by developing a multi-lingual staff to better respond.”
The It Team
The New Hampshire National Guard is on the forefront of the War on Terror and still tends to the usual cataclysms like floods and pestilence. Shortly after the attacks of 9-11 they mobilized to secure our state’s airports. Since then more than 1,800 Guardsmen have spent up to 12 months deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan. New Hampshire Guard soldiers responded to assist with Hurricane Katrina relief in Louisiana and then assisted New Hampshire communities during the flooding that took place in 2005 and 2006. The award-winning documentary “The War Tapes” featured three N.H. Guardsmen and made them the face of the Guard for millions of movie-goers. But the real It Men and Women of the National Guard are not celebrities. They are the regular citizen soldiers who put themselves on the line in relative obscurity. We’ve chosen three regular guys, Sgt. Kiernan, Sgt. Wyman and Lt. Newman of the C Co 3rd Battalion 172nd Infantry (Mountain) New Hampshire Army National Guard, to stand in for their brothers and sisters in arms, at home and in harm’s way.
North Country Newsmaker
Conventional wisdom says you might as well shred your money as start a daily paper, but one local newspaper chain is defying convention. The Conway Daily Sun was started in 1989, a Berlin edition followed in 1994, then a Laconia paper was added in 2000, making Laconia the only New England city other than Boston with multiple daily papers. Common to all is Berlin native and publisher Mark Guerringue, who heard about a successful model of free daily newspapers and decided to import the concept to the Mt. Washington Valley where it has bloomed. Has the concept cooled since then? “Exactly the opposite,” says Guerringue, “The Internet came along and forced the paradigm of free news.” With national newspaper circulation disappearing like arctic permafrost, lots of publishers are now looking to the Berlin area to see how it’s done.
Our Power Pitcher
He’s played for the St. Louis Cardinals since 2003, but was born in Exeter, and people here consider him one of their own.
“There’s just not a nicer person than Chris Carpenter,” says auto dealer Jon Xiggoros, the general sales manager of Bonneville and Son in Manchester. Mr. X is a big fan of the Trinity High grad, St. Louis Cardinals ace and winner of the Cy Young award as best pitcher in the National League. John’s daughter, Kristen, died of cancer, and John started Kristen’s Gift, a charitable organization to help families of children with cancer, under the auspices of Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center and the Norris Cotton Cancer Institute. Carpenter has been there, donating baseballs, baseball shoes and other memorabilia, giving gifts and signing autographs for the kids.
“He’s just a great human being,” says Mr. X.
Bright Star Rising
Josh Logan, 26, was a big fish in a small pond, playing for adoring crowds at Manchester’s Black Brimmer and getting airplay and attention in the local media. Then he got “discovered” by scouts from CBS’ reality show “Rockstar: Supernova,” and, just like that, his charming mug and soulful style lit up millions of TV screens. His star was still on the rise when he was rudely (and unfairly, moaned his fans) voted off in the first few weeks. Since then he’s all but disappeared, cooling his heels while planning his re-emergence.
“It’s a very difficult task for one dude, going from a normal life into the rock and roll reality and then back to normal,” says Logan. “I know I’ve got the talent and I’m capable of taking it to the level of stardom, but until that happens I’ll just keep on doing what I do.” So is his career a fireworks show or a bottle rocket? That remains to be seen, but either way his fans, now in the millions, will be watching.
He Knows Where It’s At
Sean Joyce could have been a lawyer, but he has no regrets.
“Now, I hire them,” he says. The president and CEO of Margaritas has eight restaurants in New Hampshire and 19 throughout New England to look after, so naturally legal issues arise.
Joyce, 41, went to work as a dishwasher at Chuck’s Steak House in Concord when he was 15. Later it became Tio Juan’s and still later Margaritas. Joyce went to Plymouth State College and was accepted to law school, but decided to stay in the restaurant business. It turned out to be a good move for him and for the communities where he locates his restaurants. Just about everywhere a Magaritas pops up, it quickly becomes an official watering hole for young professionals. Attention to authentic details, like real Mexican art, gives each place a sense of, well, place.
“It’s a great business,” he says. “Every day we serve our customers.”
Marc Dole is used to interruptions. It takes a concentrated schedule for his Portsmouth-based Hatchling Studios to produce such acclaimed short films as “The Norman Rockwell Code” and “The Toll.” But recently the interruptions have been calls from people with such well-known logos as MTV, Nickelodeon and Comedy Central on their business cards. His Portsmouth-based staff of 22 hustles to produce material that looks like the work of studios three times as big, but it’s paying off. Their latest Web-based cartoon series, “Endurance Challenge: Mordred’s Isle” (hatchlingshorts.com), has some of the big distributors talking specifics, and now the voice talent that helps carry shows like Futurama and South Park are on the phone as well. Dole says the pressure is OK as long as the work is fun. “And today, I’m having fun,” he adds.
Bruce Boria, Sr. Pastor for Bethany Church in Greenland, leads a growing “mega-church” (the largest in the state and one of about a dozen in New England) with about 1,500 members. It provides an incredible array of services to parishioners and to the Seacoast community, but his goal is to keep things small. “We don’t want to come across as selling Jesus,” says Boria. “We want to present him authentically.” Dealing with people as individuals with individual needs creates an attraction. The programs and other advantages of size are then available as ministries. The draw is strong enough that they have a former CEO of Burger King International as church business administrator and a man who once made movies of the Dave Matthews Band handling their videography.
Inventor of It
Dean Kamen, 55, could have practically trademarked the word “It” when that was the media’s code word for his revolutionary balancing scooter, the Segway, which was still under wraps and the subject of intense speculation. But by that time, his mind was already off to other inventions to benefit the world, like a machine that could bring clean water and electric power to benighted regions of the Third World. This new device, The Slingshot, is a magic box the size of an office copier that serves as a purifier or a generator fueled by burning scrap wood or cow dung. He was just named Humanitarian of the Year by the U.N. and picked as Innovator of the Year by R&D magazine, but the closest thing to fame for him is probably his appearance in a vintage roadster, sitting next to Isabella Rossellini, in magazine ads for the Sundance Channel’s new show “Iconoclasts.”
“I’m always shocked at how pop culture works,” says Kamen.
Making History by the Book
JerriAnne Boggis had been aware of African-American writer Harriet Wilson; the writer’s novel “Our Nig” has been on her “to read” list for a while. But when Boggis learned that Wilson lived and wrote in her own town of Milford, she was determined to spread the word: “Wilson is known as the first black woman to publish a novel, and who would have thought she came from a little town in New Hampshire?” As project director and a founding member of the Harriet Wilson Project, Boggis leads efforts to raise awareness, celebrate and honor the author by erecting a statue in Wilson’s honor, right in the town where a servant girl made world history. Her story, explains Boggis, “broadens New Hampshire’s story. It makes it deeper, fuller and more complex.”
Physician of Policy
Frank McDougall, 56, knows the corridors of power. He has regular Washington sit-downs with the likes of Karl Rove and Jim Jeffords. Always straddling party lines, he has worked as Vermont Gov. Howard Dean’s secretary of economic development and on Judd Gregg’s finance committee. And he knows the corridors of hospitals as well. As VP of government relations for Dartmouth-Hitchcock, the largest hospital in New Hampshire, he has an inside view of the system. DHMC provides amazingly sophisticated health care in a rural setting, but they struggle with the typical health care reimbursement problems. “The regulations for Medicare are three times the volume of the IRS regulations,” says McDougall. “One thing doctors and nurses say is ‘First do no harm.’ I try to educate public officials to do no harm with policy decisions they make while trying to improve the system.”
Bringing the War Back Home
The idea came to her in the middle of the night. Why not give soldiers video cameras to take into battle in Iraq? That way, the soldiers could tell their story right from their humvees and tanks, and people back home could get a truer picture of war. Deborah Scranton, 44, a documentary film maker from Goshen, knew it had never been done before, but she was determined to make it happen. “The soldiers are in Iraq in our name,” she says. “It’s important to know what war looks like.” The result: “War Tapes,” a documentary shot by three New Hampshire national guardsmen and directed by Scranton, was released this past spring to critical acclaim (and Oscar buzz).
Maura Weston has that glow of purposeful efficiency that comes from someone who not only knows where she wants to go, but how to get there. And she’s been going places since starting as a clerk at the ultra-prestigious law firm of Rath, Young and Pignatelli in 1994. She’s served as finance chair for the state Republican Party (and on the finance committee for George W. Bush for President) but doesn’t fear ticking off the party base, as she did recently testifying in favor of the so-called “Emergency Contraception Act.” She heads up the Old Man of the Mountain Legacy Fund and is on a half dozen other boards for health care and art. “A good day is one in which I feel like I’ve made a difference,” says Weston.