IT’S ABOUT ‘TIME’ WE ALL RECEIVED OUR JUST DUE

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I promise not to let this change me.

As you may have read or heard, I have been named Time magazine’s 2006 “Person of the Year.” I’m trying to be humble about it. The honor was bestowed upon me for any number of reasons, but most likely because I am a prolific writer, reporter, singer, musician, neighbor, co-worker, father and husband. Or it may just be because of my uncanny ability to make people smile wherever I go.

Folks around me know that I was destined for greatness at an early age. (I could tie my own shoelaces before any of the other kids in my neighborhood.)

I’ve gone out and purchased several copies of the magazine, which features a mirror on the cover because it reflects all that I am.

Actually, I share this award with all of you. I know that is the humble thing to say when presented with such a prestigious award, but I mean it. I share this award with all of you. We’ve all been named Time magazine’s 2006 “Person of the Year” and I congratulate you. You’ve earned it. How? By setting up MySpace accounts and submitting video files to such Internet sites as YouTube. (I think whoever sent in the Michael Richards video should get his own award.) You’ve blogged and blogged and posted photos of your trip to the Cayman Islands or the Old Worthen. You’ve transformed the information age. You’ve seized “the reins of the global media, and founded and framed the new digital democracy. You’ve worked for nothing and beat the pros at their own game,” said Lev Grossman of Time, when making the announcement over the weekend.

Oh, it was nothing. All in a year’s work.

I share this award with Methuen Mayor William Manzi, who in his first year in office didn’t do anything to embarrass himself or the city he serves. He has pushed hard for economic development and has made great strides in making Methuen a pro-business community. But does he blog?

Also awarded was Dracut School Superintendent Elaine Espindle, who has had to deal with bomb threats, school fights and mold. Not to mention a School Committee that wouldn’t give her a cup of water if she was on fire. Mrs. Espindle, here is your award.

The same goes for Pelham School Committee member Michael Conrad for appearing on the Dr. Keith Ablow show and getting his head shaved in front of an entire nation. Your award, sir.

Former Lowell City Manager John Cox and his successor, former Chelmsford Town Manager Bernie Lynch, both get the award. Former Lowell Election Commissioner Thomas Wirtanen gets the award, even after leaving his post in a huff.

And the list goes on.

Do you get the feeling that Time magazine has run out of good, qualified candidates? I mean, who were they suppose to pick? Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad? Yeah, that would have been as popular as North Korean president Kim Jong-il, or President Bush for that matter. How about Illinois Sen. Barak Obama? Oh, wait. He hasn’t really done anything, has he? But neither has Massachusetts Sen. Edward M. Kennedy and he has a mirror on the cover of his magazine, too.

How about O.J. Simpson? That would have been as unpopular as when the magazine named Adolf Hitler “Man of the Year” in 1938 or Ayatollah Khomeini “Man of the Year” in 1979.

The intent of the award is to recognize the most important person of the year, whether good or bad, and it’s about time that we all get our due. If this year’s award were to be given to the one person who has contributed most to Internet blogs, message boards, and MySpace pages, it would have to go to our very own Lowellita. Check out The Frosting at www.thesunblog.com/frosting/.

And while Time usually doesn’t hand out the award to the same person, I guess last year’s recipients, Microsoft founder Bill Gates and U2 frontman Bono, will have mirrors on their copies as well.

And what about my good friend and colleague Dave Perry? Not only was he awarded the 2006 New England Newspaper Association Journalist of the Year Award, but now this. I guess he can just add the mirror to all the others he has around his house. He’ll be impossible to live with.

Dennis Shaughnessey’s e-mail address is dshaughnessey@lowellsun.com.