BOB PUBLICOVER NEVER GIVES UP
BY DOUG HOLDER
***I wrote this article a decade ago about Bob. I interviewed Bob in the old/old offices of The Somerville News on Elm St. in Davis Square. I decided to reprint it when I heard he passed.
For all intents and purposes Bob Publicover could have called it quits a long
time ago. Publicover, 52, was diagnosed with HIV/AIDS over 15 years ago, when
it was known as the "gay man's cancer." AIDS, also took the life of his long
time companion,John Carabineris,a brutal blow to this publisher of the
award-winning Somerville News. But Publicover is not only surviving; he is
flourishing. He has published the scrappy Somerville News for 25 years,and he is
currently working on a new play, THE LAST BRONTOSAURUS.
He still tends to his many duties as an AIDS and community activist.
Publicover, seems to have an endless amount of energy at his command.
Thin and lanky, he talks with the rapid-fire cadence of a hard-boiled character
out of Raymond Chandler or Hammett novel.
In his small, cluttered office in the heart of Davis Square, Somerville
he decidedly seems to be in his element. He is surrounded by the artifacts of a
productive life, with pictures of pols, and plaques lining the walls of his
office--all memoirs of his life and times in the city of his birth, Somerville,
Publicover tells me he was first diagnosed with HIV/AIDS in 1985. At at that
time it was a death sentence. The average person was not expected to live more than eighteen months.
The way the depressing news was relayed to Publicover, can best be
conveyed from the opening scene of his play, THE LAST BRONTOSAURUS. The stage is
dark. The protagonist clicks on his answering machine, and it dispassionately
reports: "Hello, Mr. Publicover, this is Doctor Rick Lane at Harvard Health. I
just wanted you to know your test came back positive. You should probably call
in and make an appointment. Have a nice day!" Publicover recalls, " I drank for
three days. I sat at the end of the bar with a friend, and just talked it over."
If all this wasn't bad enough, Publicover's partner, John Carabineris, was
tested in 1988, and died quickly when the virus invaded his brain, only three
years later. Publicover says:" I always assumed that since I was the older one,
John would take care of me." Ironically, it was the other way around. John was
not only a personal companion, but had worked for the Somerville News for six
years. Publicover revealed that he was never one to be bothered by loss. He had
lost a father and others, but this really threw him for a loop. But, as often is
the case, out of suffering comes art. In this case a book of poetry was penned,
in memory of Publicover's lover, MY UNICORN HAS GONE AWAY (Powder House
Press). It was written in a year's time, and dealt with the years the two men
spent together, and the sense of loss when John passed away. The title was
based on the fact that John collected Unicorns statuettes. Another creation that
was born from this terrible time, is a one man play that P
Publicover hopes to present to the public, THE LAST BRONTOSAURS. It will consist
of stories that he has collected over the years dealing with people and their
experience with HIV/AIDS. The title comes from a song in the play A HIDDEN
LEGACY, written for the L.A. Gay Men's Chorus. Publicover, hopes the play will
be as successful as" My Unicorn...", which sold 5,000 copies...not bad for a
Bob Publicover has been writing professionally since age nineteen when he first
wrote the BLUNTLY SPEAKING column for the old SOMERVILLE TIMES. Now, he is the
sole owner of the SOMERVILLE NEWS. He is one of the few and dwindling
independent newspaper owners in the area. Publicover feels his job at the
newspaper is to," get the news out about the people, places and things in
Somerville. I never really try to cover hard news, the GLOBE and HERALD do
that." The publisher fancies himself as a community problem solver, and since he
has lived here all his life, he can pick up the phone to city hall and get
things done. Publicover says: " I am the local paper, now. People know me as
honest, I have integrity, and I speak my mind."