THE FINAL DAY OF BREEZEMAS: Once a Breezer, Always a Breezer

Lily Botelho

Merry Christmas, Raiders! All of us at The Breeze have thoroughly enjoyed bringing you new articles every single day and can’t thank you enough for all of your support! We spent many meetings over the past month discussing one thing: What do we post on the final day of Breezemas? We knew it had to be special. Another tier list, movie review, or opinion piece just wasn’t going to cut it. In the end, only one thing felt right: paying homage to our inspiration for Breezemas. One thing you find out quickly while writing for The Breeze is that the best and easiest source for inspiration when you feel you’re in a slump is to check out the articles that former, graduated Breezers have written. One meeting at the end of November, we found ourselves doing just that when we stumbled upon an article titled “Die Hard 2 (25 Days of Christmas)” written by Alexander Martin in December of 2013. Upon further investigation, we found out that this was part of a twenty-five days of Christmas movie reviews event written by two former Breeezers, Alexander (AJ) Martin and Daniel Baker. While a new idea formed in the brains of our editors, our advisors, Mrs. Copeland and Mr. Chase, regaled us with stories of these two former Breezers’ time writing for the paper. Following the Breeze motto of “once a Breezer, always a Breezer”, both AJ and Dan took time out of their day to answer a few questions for us, despite graduating back in 2015. We would now like to present you with our magnum opus, our final day of Breezemas: An interview with two former Breezers and SBRHS graduates.

What is your favorite Christmas movie? Has it changed since high school? If so, why?

AJ: “At the moment, my favorite Christmas movies are probably: How the Grinch Stole Christmas! (the animated short from 1966, not the disaster of a Ron Howard movie from the early aughts), A Charlie Brown Christmas, and A Christmas Story. In high school, I’m almost certain I would have said Die Hard. I am still firmly in the “Die Hard is a Christmas movie” (in addition to being one of the best action movies of the era) camp, but it doesn’t put in me the Christmas mood quite like those other three.”

Dan: “It’s almost impossible for me to pick one movie for any question regarding a favorite film of a particular genre, but when it comes to TV holiday specials, A Charlie Brown Christmas has always been my favorite. It never fails to put me into the Christmas spirit and the soundtrack is still incredible and one I still try to listen to every year around the holidays. For movies, if you were to ask me in high school I might’ve said Elf but I think years and years of watching it has diminished my enjoyment of it, but I still love A Christmas Story and have a lot of nostalgia for it playing on a loop on Christmas day as a kid. Since graduating SBRHS though, another less conventional pick of mine would be Black Christmas (1974), a film ironically made by the same director of A Christmas Story, which I think is one of my favorite horror films of that era, although certainly not something to watch if you’re trying to get into the Christmas spirit.”

How did you make The Breeze your own?

AJ: “Dan and I are movie obsessives. When we both started at the Breeze as freshmen, we were primarily writing about movies because we were primarily talking about movies. We actually got pretty friendly with the manager of the Regal Cinemas in Swansea, since we were there almost every weekend to see whatever was coming out. So when we started to grow into leadership positions at the paper, we kind of naturally gravitated toward continuing to write about film. When the paper started to grow a bit our senior year (I think there was a period of time when we were juniors where club attendance was pretty low), I’d like to hope we fostered content that was based on what the other writers were interested in. But, for me at least, film criticism was always the way to go.”

Dan: “With AJ and I being such huge movie fans, we ended up writing a lot of articles about movies and as a result, the Entertainment section of The Breeze became our most prolific during our tenure there.”

How has The Breeze influenced you?

AJ: “The Breeze is the reason I have a degree in Journalism and Media Studies. It made me realize how much I love writing and gave me a place to experiment with articulating my opinion before I honed those skills in college. Ms. Copeland and Mr. Chase were both incredibly supportive, especially when it came to taking an idea that we had or an interest that we expressed and letting us run with it. I’m not sure I can fully calculate the impact that it had on me; it affected a hugely influential decision of my life (what I studied in college), which butterflied into every other major decision I ended up making over the past six years. I’m eternally grateful.”

Dan: “The Breeze is what introduced me to writing film reviews, which I still do from time to time to this very day, and helped me to learn how to articulate my thoughts about them in writing. It is also what partially influenced me into pursuing a minor in Professional Communications while in college.”

Do you remember The Breeze theme song? If so, do you still listen to it?

AJ: “This is not an exaggeration (and I will provide photographic evidence that I am not lying), but I was recently at a holiday market here in Boston and bought a copy of George Benson’s album Breezin’ on vinyl! I’ve listened to it multiple times on my record player set-up, and it is still an excellent piece of jazz/R&B. I’ve got very fond memories of throwing that song on at the beginning of every meeting, once we had transitioned into the new school and that was actually something we could do.”

Dan: “‘Breezin” by George Benson? Of course I do! Admittedly I haven’t listened to it since my time at The Breeze but this question prompted me to give it another listen and it certainly helped to trigger a lot of memories from my time there”

How does it feel to be the inspiration for Breezemas?

AJ: “It’s very cool to know that a random idea I had when I was in high school is inspiring new students to write more! The world can always use great writers, be it journalists, essayists, novelists, screenwriters, video game story developers, etc. Whatever impact I could have possibly had in getting more people interested in writing feels pretty good.”

Dan: ” I think it’s really cool that an idea from when AJ and I were at The Breeze over six years ago still has an influence on the current team of writers at The Breeze and I can’t wait to check it out.”

What are you up to now? Does anything fill the Breeze-shaped void in your life?

AJ: “I work in digital marketing for a company called JVS Boston that specializes in providing education and workforce development training to immigrants and refugees. The vast majority of my creative writing expertise goes into developing new stories for my ongoing Dungeons and Dragons campaign, but I spent all of my college years continuing to write film reviews as the president of Northeastern University’s film club. I am hoping to start writing for fun again; maybe some essays on film, television, video games, or whatever really pops into my head. I’ve been reading a ton of film and television analysis books/articles (The Great Movies by Roger Ebert, The Sopranos Sessions by Matt Zoller Seitz and Alan Sepenwall, The Female Gaze by Alicia Malone, whatever David Sims writes for The Atlantic) for inspiration.”

Dan: “Currently I’m working as a Digital Marketing Specialist for W.B. Mason after graduating with a degree in Advertising from Johnson & Wales University. What fills that “Breeze-shaped void in my life” for me is continuing to write about films, whether that be a short paragraph or a full review, on Letterboxd, a website for logging the movies you watch. I’ve also recently started getting more into photography. In the future, I hope to get back into regularly writing longer reviews.”

Favorite Breeze memories?

AJ: “Just sitting around and chewing the fat with everyone, really. It was nice having something, once a week, where I could just dump an hour into something I enjoyed.”

Dan: “My favorite memories were probably just getting to hang out after school with everyone and talking about whatever was going on around the school (“shootin’ the Breeze” I think is what Mr. Chase used to call it) and brainstorming ideas about what we could do next with The Breeze”

Why would you belong in a Breeze hall of fame?

AJ: “I mean, if a Breeze Hall of Fame was looking for candidates, I feel like I’d campaign pretty hard to get in. One would think a former editor would have a pretty good shot, but I’m sure there is a lengthy vetting and nomination process that I’d have to pass through first. I’m ready for the challenge.”

Dan: “I would certainly be honored to be inducted into one along with AJ. We joined The Breeze during our freshman year, which just so happened to be a major transitional year for the paper. Beginning that year, The Breeze became digital-only after being only a print publication prior to that. This meant that we were able to help with the initial direction that The Breeze would take in this jump to a new medium and even took on some of the responsibilities of editors before we officially became them ourselves.”