Prodigal son returns home
Posted in the Fitchburg Forum
#1 May 19, 2013
Prodigal son returns home
Documentary filmmaker and Fitchburg State alumnus John M. Antonelli poses at Fitchburg State University. Mr. Antonelli received an honorary degree during the commencement.(T&G Staff/PAUL KAPTEYN)
By Paula J. Owen TELEGRAM & GAZETTE STAFF
FITCHBURG —— When acclaimed documentary filmmaker John M. Antonelli first heard Fitchburg State University was awarding him an honorary doctorate degree at the school’s 117th Commencement exercises this weekend, he said he was surprised, but felt gratified at the same time.
As a student journalist at FSU more than four decades ago, Mr. Antonelli made national headlines in a precedent-setting free speech lawsuit that pitted students against administration.
In September 1969, as The Cycle’s editor, Mr. Antonelli and his “cohorts”— working out of a home on Myrtle Avenue that housed the student-run newspaper — sought to publish an explicit excerpt from Black Panthers’ founder Eldridge Cleaver’s novella The Black Moochie.
It was a volatile time in American politics, with the Vietnam War raging and the civil rights movement in full swing, Mr. Antonelli said. Then-FSU president James J. Hammond Jr. refused to allow The Cycle to publish Mr. Cleaver’s piece, blocking all funds for its printing and calling the Cleaver piece obscene.
Mr. Hammond also sought to have any content in the campus paper first reviewed by a faculty advisory committee.
So the school paper took Mr. Hammond to federal court, and won.
In the now famous ruling in the Antonelli v. Hammond case dated Feb. 5, 1970, U.S. District Court Judge W. Arthur Garrity said Mr. Hammond’s efforts to censor the student paper constituted a direct previous restraint of expression.
Mr. Antonelli said he learned a lot during that period, but it was not without sacrifice. After the ordeal, he said he felt unwelcomed at the college by not only the administration but also some students, and left to pursue filmmaking at University of California at Los Angeles.
Since then, as a producer-director-writer, he has overseen celebrated projects including his 2010 documentary “Sam Cooke: Crossing Over,” which was broadcast on PBS’“American Masters” series and nominated for a prime-time Emmy Award for outstanding nonfiction series.
#2 May 19, 2013
His recently completed documentary,“Unfair Game: The Politics of Poaching,” will soon make the film festival circuit. In the past year, his documentary work has taken him to Egypt, Serbia, South Africa, Kenya, Ethiopia, West Timor, Iraq and Hawaii.
And, his groundbreaking 1986 docudrama,“Jack Kerouac: King of the Beats” premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in the documentary competition. It was broadcast on PBS, A&E and The Learning Channel, as well as numerous major international markets, and was just re-released by Kultur Films International.
But, despite his success, Mr. Antonelli never returned to FSU, always having the feeling he would not be welcome.
Until 2011, when he was invited as guest panelist at FSU’s Constitution Day events.
He said he wasn’t sure what to expect from students or the administration during that first visit.
“When I first heard they were inviting me back, at first I really and truly couldn’t believe it,” he said, while sitting on one of the couches in the newly renovated Hammond campus center, named in honor of his nemesis from so many years ago.“I thought someone in the administration would stop and think twice about it and think it was a bad idea. We were so at odds with the administration. Even though it was 40 years ago, it seemed impossible that the current administration was so welcoming about me coming back and talking about how I took the college to court and won.”
During that first visit, he was reunited with college friends and was met with curiosity by current students, he said.
“It was a big surprise how eager the current student body was, and curious to hear our story,” he said.“We were sitting in the building named after Hammond who we took to federal court, talking about the court case. Everyone in the school seemed to relish the story.”
Since then, he has visited the school a few times, he said, and thought about the profound impact attended attending FSU has had on him.
“I grew up Catholic and went to Catholic school my whole life,” he said.“There is not that much freedom of expression in Catholic school. It is not at all a place where you’re encouraged to express thoughts and feelings about controversial subjects. That was hard for a kid growing up in the 60s with rock ’n’ roll and freedom of speech.”
He said he didn’t have the option of finding his own core values and expressing them while attending private, parochial schools. Then, he came to Fitchburg.
“Fitchburg State was a platform for me to exercise my intellectual, philosophical muscles that I didn’t get to in Catholic school,” he said.“Then, I was met with resistance to that with Hammond and the administration. Strangely, that resistance made them become deeply ingrained in me. I felt directly opposed with what I was trying to do with the newspaper. That opposition was so perfect and direct, it forced me to ask myself,`Why does this matter to me?’,`How much does this matter to me?’ and,`What am I willing to do about it?”’
Those questions he continues to ask himself in life, he said.
A lot of things contributed to his success as a filmmaker, he said, including making the college newspaper and collaborating with his friends who were writers, graphic artists and photographers.
“That whole feeling of camaraderie and collaboration was something I took with me and brought to my filmmaking work,” he said.“Working on productions was already familiar to me — to share in the creative process and find ways to deliver the message.”
As far as the court case itself — it also taught him valuable lessons.
“If you have a belief in something and it really matters to you and you stay with it and your convictions, almost always there is a positive resolution for you,” he said.
#3 May 19, 2013
""Mr. Antonelli said he learned a lot during that period, but it was not without sacrifice. After the ordeal, he said he felt unwelcomed at the college by not only the administration but also some students, and left to pursue filmmaking at University of California at Los Angeles.
"After the ordeal, he said he felt unwelcomed at the college by not only the administration but also some students"
"and left to pursue filmmaking at University of California at Los Angeles."
Fitchburg today has gone back to the 60's and 70's when the "good ole boy networks" constantly ostracized those who utilized freedom of speech rights!!
So, as FSUs' MO (method of operation) continues to repeat such ostracizing, today they give a degree to a former student who they drove out of Fitchburg??????
What really is the lesson to be learned here? This man triumphed and succeeded in life through his escape from FSU and Fitchburg.
No matter who Antonucci gives accolades to it will not shadow or hide the reality of what effect that the "good ole boy network" negatively has over progress in Fitchburg.
Antonucci receives a big fat "F" for FAILURE in the real world.
Covering the reality up does not make it disappear, as giving accolades to the abused will not cover the truth up at FSU!!!
I spoke my mind and Antonucci unethically abused his authority by first illegally dismissing my brother from his lively hood and then further by banning me from the FSU property which has yet been addressed.
Then again by knowingly falsly incarcerating a student who was different and a student who rejected Antonucci's "merry Xmas" message as he was expelling the student.
#4 May 19, 2013
I encourage all Fitchburg citizens to rise up against this local government and to hold them accountable at the voting booth.
They have failed us all but they continue to be voting into office as the MAJORITY of citizens do not vote. The people MUST speak up!
Antonelli spoke up, he continued and won in court. The people did not back him so he left for California and became successful.
At a time when local politicians want students to stay in Fitchburg? What lessons and examples to follow are they displaying? Confusing??? Exactly!
Our local government has failed in every single aspect of governing!!! Allowing the Longsjo three days of racing to exit Fitchburg is a complete and utter failure that is so self defeating that it is mind blowing. Some will say, what is the big deal, it is just a bike race"? Wrong, it is an IMAGE! It is a positive label that is recognized worldwide.
Allowing all businesses to leave Fitchburg is a failure! Attempting to block wheel chair bound brain dead handicapped women is not only completely appalling but it is a sign of uncaring, selfish and self righteousness that has no place anywhere but in Dubai where the spoiled wealthy squander their wealth by filling the ocean with sand in order to satisfy their perversions!!!!
#5 May 19, 2013
What message is being sent? In order to build commerce in Fitchburg you do not put Antonucci on the board of trustees!!
Antonucci is on the board of trustees at Unitil also.
So,let me get this right. Businesses either leave or choose a different city to operate in because Unitil rates are so high?
All the successful former FSU students who Antonucci recognizes through accolades are either those that left FSU to go to California University or who left Fitchburg and became successful outside of Fitchburg?
We need to create incentives for graduates to remain in Fitchburg, we need to lead by example!!!!!
The more things get swept under the rug, the more that this University and the city spends ALL their energy and financial resources in covering up wrong doings of officials instead of holding them accountable then the less attractive Fitchburg will always be to graduating students!!
It is a bunch of BS. It reminds me of the ward meeting where I spoke and stated that the University liason is full of "hog wash"!
Fitchburg has been taking one step forward and one and a half backwards!!! Yes it is true that before it was taking a half step forward and two steps backwards which was COMPLETE failure!
So, we are now comfortable with half measures! Fitchburg is becoming an empty shell with no character and no substance concerning business nor positive images.
#6 May 19, 2013
Just more of the same Lynch craziness.
#7 May 19, 2013
The last time you asked people to rise up your got what- 73 votes? 77?
#8 May 19, 2013
77 is correct. Beyond your comprehension is the fact that I was unjustly arrested. My car was impounded and captured as we were disallowed to retrieve it until it hit $1,500.00 cost. The Chief of Police lied and the Sentinel refused me the opportunity to respond because they endorsed Wong.
It cost me at least $10,000 to defend against FALSE charges and then to battle the cover up that had UNLIMITED resources to squander such as 8 Uniformed police officers to flank a small closed court room.
We did not knock on one door, we did not send out not one flier as our campaign was UNETHICALLY/ILLEGALLY corrupted by outside forces.
Should I go on? My brother was fired by Antonucci who is in lock step with Wong and the Sentinel Editor! They stalked us every move, they harassed us in official city vehicles and threatened and attempted to drive my relatives off the road.
So, do you want to hear any more truth????? Antonucci has UNLIMITED finances to hire a team of attorneys to come after me if I am wrong! Lets do it! Lets bring it to the papers! I bet you that the globe and the Herald will pick up on this story.
Lets unveil it all in the daily newspapers! Lets see who hid documents! I have the proof!
A Penn State level network is in operation within Fitchburg. The good ole boy network is in full force throughout Fitchburg! Lets research the state connections! Lets do it!
#9 May 19, 2013
No disrespect to Italians anywhere but I must say that you remind me of a grimy Italian PUKE that I knew! You are nothing but a mouth piece as you talk out of the side of it spewing your Shit!
#10 May 19, 2013
Please. Stop. You were not unjustly arrested. Even if you hadn't made the newspapers, you might have gotten five additional votes.
And exactly what story to you think that the Globe and Herald will pick up? The alleged worldwide conspiracy against you? A strange common thread of conspiracy loons like yourself is that people are always hiding documents. And you don't have any proof of anything. Except your own lunacy.
As for all of the cops in the room, well, Lynch, you do have a history. They were probably just being careful..
#11 May 19, 2013
Tu sei pazzo. Vai a farti fottere.
#12 May 19, 2013
This Lynch should be watched very closely. Not only does he dislike Italians but he clearly singles out certain people. That's not normal behavior.
#13 May 19, 2013
He went to prison as the result of killing someone. Killed an innocent young man named Andrew.
Hey Lynch, did you call Andrew's mother on Mother's Day? You piece of garbage.
#14 May 19, 2013
Go back to southie. Don't cross into the northend. We all grew up and know the rules.
#15 May 19, 2013
Just curious, as I don't really know, but do they allow golf clubs in court rooms? Didn't think so. Especially in your case.
#16 May 19, 2013
ESPECIALLY not in the North End. As he has demonstrated on these pages how he feels about all of us Italian-Americans.
#17 May 19, 2013
So if you give an ' "F" for failure in the real world." To this person who runs a university, is on several board of directors and works everyday what grade do you give someone who collects welfare and lives in his moms basement?
#18 May 23, 2013
The Longsjo Classic WILL be in Fitchburg for 3 of the 4 days of racing. Friday and Saturday's races will start at the Holiday Inn in Fitchburg and the Downtown Criterium will take place on Sunday.
#19 May 23, 2013
How come he expresses his opinion and hatred but he never answers any of the questons posed to him?
#20 May 23, 2013
This is very good news. Is the Pearl street hill race still going to be held in Fitchburg? I ask because I have heard that a lot of participants enter the Fitchburg race for the challenge of the four days including the hill.
It seems like without the hill race there is not too much excitement to enter the Longsjo race as the participants then state that without the hill their is no difference when compared to similar race venues.
My opinion is that nothing should change compared to the race that was held in the past and that the race should actually be promoted more.
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