City Desk

Cheap Seats Daily: If You Burn Down Your High School, Can You Show Up at Your High School Reunion?

http://www.fhhs79.com/uploads/006932_01096215_mussolino.jpgIn case you missed it: The pre-post-racial they-said/they-said-they-didn't situation from last year's Dunbar-Fort Hill football game will lead to a small, mostly ceremonial change in the athletes' Code of Conduct applied to all Maryland public high school sporting events.

***

The Great Dan Steinberg posts a Great Video of Ryan Zimmerman talking up D.C. United to promote next week's U.S. Open Cup championship game.

You know the U.S. Open Cup, right? That's the one where to get to the finals United had to march through neighborhood powerhouses like the Ocean City (N.J.) Barons, the Harrisburg (Pa.) City Islanders, and the Rochester (N.Y.) Rhinos, in games played at a suburban community center field.

It appears that before the promo shoot Zimmerman hit the quaalude table in the green room hard.

Either that, or like the rest of the world he can't even fake enthusiasm for the U.S. Open Cup.

AFTER THE JUMP: Keith Urban fans don't know who Ryan Zimmerman is? There is no "I" in arson? Paul Farhi goes ground-and-pound on Dan Snyder? Nats win!? Nats win!?


(Speaking of Zimmerman: I went to see country superstar Keith Urban last week at Verizon Center. He changed the lyrics of one of his many hits to include "Nationals," and told the crowd he'd gone to see the Nationals play the night before and that he'd sat in seats provided by Ryan Zimmerman. The fan response to all Urban's Nats references was equal and, well, non-existent. It was sad. Urban might as well have talked up the U.S. Cup.)

(Speaking of urban: Perhaps the chance at living closer to the SoccerPlex, host of so many of United's U.S. Cup clashes, motivated Steinberg to abandon D.C. for the Maryland suburbs. Nothing else makes sense!)

***

Nobody shows up for class reunions like football stars. But what if you burned down your high school — like, really burned it down? And what if your burning down your school meant your classmates had to spend most of their senior year shuttled around town to finish up at rival schools that weren't burned down by football stars?

Then, do you show up for your reunion?

Well, the Class of '79 at Fort Hunt High School held its 30-year reunion.

Matt Musolino didn't show, according to organizers.

Musolino was a star fullback on the 1978 Fort Hunt team that won the Gunston District title. His partner in the backfield, Rocky Belk, went on to star at Miami. Musolino was going to get a free ride to Louisiana Tech.

But then he burned down his school.

Musolino was one of three kids convicted of arson for the December 1978 fire that knocked Fort Hunt High out of commission. He told the Washington Post shortly after the trials that he went to his father's service station on Route 1 and got the gas for the molotov cocktails that they used to torch the school during a night of drinking over Christmas break. (Must have been something in the water in that area: In 1971, Fort Hunt Elementary was burned down by students, too.) To add a touch of Shakespeare to what was really just a dirtball prank gone horribly wrong: Musolino's uncle was a successful architect who had designed the school.

A million kids from our generation had probably boasted about burning down their school just like the Fort Hunt kids did –  That's the climactic scene in the Ramones' "Rock and Roll High School," ain't it? But these guys went out and did it.

I was a senior at Falls Church High the same year, and the burners were instant folk heroes among the dazed and confused adolescents in my small Northern Virginia circle.

But, don't try this at home, kids: These guys all got caught and did jail time, and they screwed up the lives of all their classmates, who had to finish the year at rival Groveton and never got to go back to Fort Hunt.

The other moral of Musolino's story, of course, is that if you do burn down your school, you won't show up for your 30-year reunion. Even if you were a football star.

***

Sally Jenkins' write-up of Little League World Series creepiness hit home with me. When I was in Little League, I practiced hard to be like Bert Blyleven. I didn't care to match the Twins' pitcher's famous curveball, Lord Charles I think they called it back then. No, I spent hours and hours trying to spit like Bert Blyleven spit from the mound during an NBC Game of the Week broadcast. And after a whole summer, I could shoot a stream of saliva a good distance without any noticeable movement of facial muscles, and without a sound. I still find myself spitting whenever I walk on grass fields. Sad but true.

Guess the ballplayers really are role models.

***

Also yesterday, Washington Post writer Paul Farhi's regular chat with his readers about local radio ("Station Break") turned into a head-to-toe bashing of all things Dan Snyder.

Farhi and his flock went after Lindsay Czarniak for wearing licensed Redskins apparel, after WRC for airing all those Redskins infomercials, after concession prices and parking and pretty much everything at FedExField, after management of Six Flags, after his deal with StubHub, etc.

It was less a chat than a stoning. And no stone was left unthrown.

By the time the Snyder crushing was over, there wasn't any time left to talk about radio.

But, if Snyder's looking for something to cling to, Farhi did have nice things to say about "Valkyrie." Now there's a zig instead of zag!

(Radio update Snyder might like: The must-surf dc media site DCRTV, meanwhile, posted a new batch of Portable People Meter radio rankings that show Snyder's WTEM beating rival new sportstalker WJFK. Tho, with WTEM in 19th place in the market, and WJFK the 20th most listened to station, neither's lighting up the market.)

***

Nats crush the next-to-last team to fire Jim Riggleman. I'm going on vacation.

***

Story tips? Wanna Play the Feud? Tube amps for sale? Send to: cheapseats@washingtoncitypaper.com

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  • Dena Calivas

    Dave,
    How dare you be so rude and put a negative spin on our 30 year FHHS reunion. You asked for input on how classmates felt about the fire and you were provided with information of how we all pull together and even became a tighter knit class because of it. The guys paid their dues. We've all moved on from it and suggest you do the same. You statement below confirms you had no interest in how we felt about it - you just wanted your sick spin on it. You missed the opportunity for a real positive story that this world needs. Instead of reporting all the negatives life has to offer. Get a life.
    terry:
    i got too busy with other stories and lost interest in doing a big story about fort hunt and ended up just writing a little blurb about your reunion and throwing it in my daily blog post pile. there's nothing profound about it, especially for folks like you who know the whole story, but i had to get it out of the way. here's the link, scroll down some:

  • Dena

    Dave,
    Below are the exact responses you received from the questions you asked. What a sick turnaround you made it. What an embarassment you should be to the community and the paper. Let alone your so called positive spin with the title of your article - you are sick dude.

    1)did that fire change the way your class stayed together at all? more fractured? tighter?

    Absolutely. At the time that it occurred, everyone's schedule was so messed up that our class became literally and physically fractured. We lost touch with our friends during the school day. After school jobs were lost. Sports and team practice sessions were held at unreal hours of the morning or night. And we also became more closely bound with each other through the common bond that often results from shared tragedies. Nearly 300 of our class have recently reconnected on our own class website, fhhs79.com, and this weekend, 200 of us will attend our 30-Year Reunion.

    2)all these years later, what do the "kids" from your class think about that fire, and about the "kids" that did it? are they gonna come to the reunion?

    Well, first and foremost, all of our alumni from all graduating years probably fight harder than most "kids" to keep the spirit of our school alive and strong, even though Fort Hunt High School hasn't existed since, I believe, 1985. One very real testament to this is the growing number of members on our Fort Hunt High School Facebook Page, now over 800. As for the Class of 1979, our bond is extra special. Though there may be a few resentments still lingering out there, I believe that, like me, most of my classmates feel that those responsible for the fire have already been punished and have paid their dues. It's time to move on. They have not been turned away or discouraged from attending the reunion, but neither have they contacted us to say that they would attend.

  • Dave McKenna

    Dena: no offense, but your emails didn't give me a whole lot to work with, and since you chose to limit all contact with the reunion committee before the event to an email Q&A, and after the delays in getting responses even to those Q's, I lost interest in the A's. but if you'd step back for just a second, Dena, you'd see that the only thing about your class reunion that separates it from everybody else's is that your school got burned down by one of your own, which is why my questions were all about the fire, and why i wrote all about the fire. sorry, but I'd write exactly what i wrote all over again.

  • Angry Al Gonzales

    Burning down the house. The cool thing in my high school was a kid who'd call in bomb threats on request - like, I've got a geometry test third period, Ricky - would you please make a call?

    That way the test was shortened, & also you could discuss the questions with fellow classmates. This went on for months, but eventually the FBI visited Ricky & he stopped phoning in bomb threats & went back to torturing animals. Nowadays he'd be doing 20 to life, but back then nothing was done. At our reunion I learned he'd become an exterminator, like Tom DeLay, killing bugs & varmits.

  • http://www.fhhs79.com Terry

    Dave, in all fairness, let's be clear on this:

    You first contacted me on July 9th and I responded on July 10th with the following:

    "It just so happens we had a reunion meeting last night. The group is happy to give you an interview, but would like to know what you have in mind. Could you elaborate some? My thought was that you might list your questions for us along with your phone number, and we could each respond individually either in writing or by phone. Would that work?"

    You did not respond back until August 6th - the day before our reunion. You asked the two questions Dena posted above and I responded later that SAME day.

    I left my home that evening to attend the reunion weekend followed by a vacation, so it is true that I did not see your August 11th email in which you wrote "if i'm ever going to do a little blurb about it, it'd be this week". I did respond however on August 16th (the day I returned).

    Please don't twist my words to make it sound like I had impeded your investigation. YOU are the reporter, it's not my place, nor my right, to "put you in touch" with folks to interview, but I did pass along your requests and left it up to individuals to contact you.

    We were thrilled to be contacted for an interview, and answered every one of your questions in a timely manner. I think it is perfectly reasonable for us to be disappointed by your "blog" article on our very fine class of 79!

    Terry

  • Dena

    Dave,
    I was not the one you contacted initially. And I, nor any other person, in no way had anything to do with your not contacting or limiting your contact with the committee. You didn't follow up on your initial request in a timely manner and therefore got minimal response because we were all at the reunion.
    What could have been written was that all classmates were welcome to the reunion - The Class of '79 Reunites Again Even After a Fire Their Senior Year. Terry response above was exactly how it happened. Let alone - you were invited to the reunion to see, hear and interview personally.

  • Dave McKenna

    Terry and Dena: you fort hunt people clearly inhaled too much smoke when YOUR SCHOOL GOT BURNED DOWN BY A CLASSMATE! but, if you really wanna Play the Feud, well, GAME ON! dena, by "you" i meant the committee, since i first wrote to the reunion committee and was told this email-only thing was a decision from the committee and now you have all my emails to what i thought was the appointed spokesperson for the committee, so, i ASS-U-ME'd.

    now, you people said right away that the committee wants everything done by email and then you don't respond to my emails for 11 days, not five -- the august 10 email from me was after no answer to the august 6 email. and in your response after 11 days you only answer the second batch of questions and say how many people showed up and that it was a "resounding success" and "immensely satisfying!

    great! but THAT'S NOT AS INTERESTING AS HAVING YOUR SCHOOL BURNED DOWN BY A CLASSMATE!

    and now you don't like how it turned out! just stop with the "twisting words" silliness. i'm glad you like your classmates after 30 years! but everybody likes their classmates after 30 years! not everybody had THEIR HIGH SCHOOL BURNED DOWN BY ONE OF THEIR CLASSMATES!

    let me quote somebody, i think it was either HL Mencken or me, who once said: IF YOU HAVE A CHOICE TO WRITE A REUNION STORY ABOUT HOW MUCH CLASSMATES LIKE EACH OTHER AFTER 30 YEARS, OR A REUNION STORY ABOUT HOW A CLASSMATE BURNED DOWN THE HIGH SCHOOL, WRITE THE REUNION STORY ABOUT HOW A CLASSMATE BURNED DOWN THE HIGH SCHOOL EVERY TIME."

    so would you and your fellow Fort Hunters stop whining about being wronged by a story about how YOUR HIGH SCHOOL BURNED DOWN and embrace the coolness of having YOUR HIGH SCHOOL BURNED DOWN? not everybody can say they went to Rock and Roll High School, for crissakes! you guys can!

    i'd write it again every time!

  • http://www.fhhs79.com Terry

    Dave,

    You're entitled to write what you wish, (freedom of the press, and all that...)

    I understand that the fire makes for much more interesting news than "how much we all still like each other after 30 years", but I hope you understand that we have moved past that sensationalism and returned to real life. I tried to convey that in answering your interview questions.

    I was not then, nor am I willing now to be the mouth-piece in any negative view of my class. Having your school burn down your senior year wasn't "cool" no matter how it looked from the outside. Do you think it would have been cool if your high school in Falls Church had burned down? Really? Are you not able to imagine the hellish implications of that?

    Dave, our school has been through enough already. Let's drop this no-where conversation. Please allow us to enjoy our success at having made it through and come back together 30 years later, stronger than ever!

  • Duke84

    I am with Dave on this one. It's a man bites dog story, and no one would give a care about your reunion or your school if your classmates hadn't burned the building. Sorry that thirty years later, you cannot realize that.

  • matthew musolino

    should have read my real thoughts. call me 757-339-1898. fuck off matthew musolino

  • Bill

    You forgot the most ironic twist - after the school burned down, the County paid to rebuild it, only to close Fort Hunt as a high school (it became an intermediate school) in 1985 and was merged with Groveton to become West Pathetic (er, West Potomac) High School...I was a member of the last graduating class of Fort Hunt in 1985, and went on to marry a girl from Groveton, who was a Freshman in '79 and shared the school with the Fort Hunt kids who "affectionately" referred to the Groveton kids as the "Groveton Grits" - still a sore subject...

  • matthew musolino

    Dave, Since you have not called me, I guess I will have to speak my peace online. First of all I was invited to attend the reunion. I did not go because I had to work. Myself and my employees understand through these times we all must work extra. My first responsibility is to my wife, three children and my company. I regret not going because this very possibly could be the last time I would see any of my old friends and classmates. I find it in extremely poor taste to subject my classmates and friends with this bantering at a time when the were all just for one night wanted to remember and feel young again. I myself have apologized and atoned for thirty years for a stupid act that as I see you have no idea of the real facts. As too my Uncle he was decent and great man who helped me all he could. He passed recently and as to his memory commonwealth attorney Bob Horan gave his Eulogy, your paper also wrote a nice article about him. WEIRD HUH. I named my youngest son after my Uncle this is an area I would not tread. As for Fort Hunt High School my memories of the school, the people, the teachers will always be dear to me. Fort Hunt High School was never a legacy of one night and a fire, but of the greatest example of decent, good, hard working people whom today run our industries, armed services, government, schools and households. Ft. Hunt will always be remembered for this and like you the fire will eventually go away.
    Matthew Musolino

  • Pingback: Thirty Years Later, Kid Who Burned Down Fort Hunt High Checks In With City Desk - City Desk - Washington City Paper

  • L. Chris Miller

    Dave got his sensational headline story and wrote about what he believes is (was) so cool about Fort Hunt High School.

    But he has no idea. FHHS alum know the truth. Our reunions and close bonds and accomplishments speak for themselves.

    The real story is that the fire is NOT the most interesting story after all.

    Let's not give this story any more attention and traffic and go back to our own websites and forums.

  • Barbara Whitfield

    I went to FHHS, and graduated class of 1968, then moved to San Francisco. Got my MA in teaching at UC Berkley. I moved south and became a High School Biology teacher.
    When I heard about the Fort Hunt fire in 1979, I wondered why? To this day I have never heard the reason/excuse as to why Mr. Musolino did this, and I don't think he acted alone. Who helped him?

    In 1979, Fort Hunt was just a distant memory to me. I couldn't seem to bring myself to care as much as I should. I remembered FHHS as a bunch of snobby, wealthy, kids, horny jocks, slutty cheerleaders, rednecks, and white trash. However, I liked the teaching staff very much.

    Frankly, it could have been a whole lot worse. Like Columbine. FLASH FORWARD to March 5, 2001! I taught at Santana High School in Southern California where there was an actual spree killing by a 15 yr. old named Charles "Andy" Williams. The reason he gave for this horrendous act was that he was "bullied." The same reason Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold from Columbine did it.

    So, Mr. Musolino you should have been welcomed with open arms at your class reunion. You didn't murder anyone.
    BW

  • http://fhhs79.com Terry

    As L.Chris states above, and I cannot improve upon:

    "The real story is that the fire is NOT the most interesting story after all.

    Let's not give this story any more attention and traffic and go back to our own websites and forums."

  • nickmusso

    fuck all of you im his brother my call me 757-718-6066

  • Snickers62

    I was a student at Mount Vernon when the Fort Hunt fire happened. The Fort Hunt students finished the year at Mount Vernon not Goveton.

  • http://www.fhyaa.org/rugby rugby007

    I wasn't here, and I don't know any of these guys, but as I try to bring high school rugby back to the Fort Hunt area for the first time in 30 years, I keep running into school administrators and parents to tell me apocryphal stories of how "the rugby club burned down FHHS." I've found folks who passionately believe one side or the other, and it's unnecessarily complicating a concerted effort to bring high school rugby back to the Fort Hunt area.

  • NICK MUSOLINO

    JUST SHOWS YOU WHO YOU KNOW UNCLE TONY GOT PAYED TO PUT FORT HUNT BACK TOGEHTER SO WHOS IN WHOS POCKET KEEP IT IN THE FAMILY

  • NICK MUSOLINO

    HA DAVE MCKENNA GREAT JOB YOU GOT #19 COMMENTS ON UR PAGE U MUST BE PROUD OF UR SELF U WROTE TWO BEDTIME STORIES FROM THIRHTY YEARS AGO,AND U STILL DON'T KNOW WHAT'S THE TRUTH THANKS TO THE #1 AMMENMENT

  • Glen Biskind
  • Edward Barnhill

    Barbara Whitfield, you are correct. Musolino is not a murderer, but he certainly fits my definition as a terrorist. Anyone who torches a $4.5 million facility (designed no less by his uncle) with a Molotov Cocktail for shits and giggles and then rats on his friends to get a lesser sentence is not going to be looked upon favorably by me. Class of '79: your 30th anniversary reunion theme should have been "We Didn't Start the Fire" by Billy Joel.

  • Sylvia Bernstein

    Nick, if your spelling skills are any indication of the education you received at Fort Hunt, maybe it was a good thing your brother burned the school to the ground.

  • NICK MUSOLINO

    SYLVIA U NED 2 LERN 2TEX BTCH

  • NICK MUSOLINO

    2 ED/GLN U NED NT SAY TERROIST ARE COCKTAIL TREATS ONLINE UNLESS U GUYS WHERE THE WHONS THAT DID THAT TO THE SCHOOL YALL FILLING GIULTY A.

  • Sylvia Bernstein

    Nick, you still need to learn how to spell.

    "Payed" is paid.
    "Whos in Whos" is who's in who's.
    "Ammenment" is "Amendment."

    You're really going to play the text card? I guess the world needs ditch diggers, too.

  • Glen Biskind

    Nick, the 1979 article clearly states that you not only pleaded guilty to the charge but then rolled over on your friend. Is the article wrong?

  • Sylvia Bernstein

    Glen - you have your Musolino's mixed up. Nick is the hothead and Matt is the flamethrower.

  • NICK MUSOLINO

    SYLVIA, I MUST HAVE BEEN WRONG ABOUT YOU. I NEVER MEET A FEMALE THAT STUD UP TO TAKE A PISS.

  • NICK MUSOLINO

    AND TOO THE REST OF YOU WHAT DID ALL OF YOU ENGULF OF THIS LET ME KNOW.WHAT ALL YA LOST . MONEY .FRIENDS .FAMILY.TRUST.LET ME HERE YOU'R STORIES .

  • Sylvia Bernstein

    Nick, I think the point of this article is that about 1,500 student lost out on having a legitimate senior year of high school. That's a year that should have been magical and they were robbed of this and disbursed to different schools because of a foolish act. Perhaps even more troubling is that you and your brother are so insensitive to how others feel about this 30 years later. How hard is it to say, "It was a dumb thing to do and I'm sorry."

    Of course, since you probably never graduated high school (hence your lackluster spelling skills), I guess you wouldn't understand.

  • KatyMay

    FHHS class of 77 here. I guess I can count myself lucky that I was a 'fall birthday' and not a member of 78.
    Sylvia: ROFL!
    I knew both Musolino brothers, especially Matt who dated a friend of mine in High School. It would appear that he hasn't changed a bit. We were a wild generation, but most of us grew up, matured, received some sort of education etc.
    I suppose it is gratifying to see that both Musolino brothers are still low life, illiterate, foul mouthed thugs. And by the way Matt? I am still ashamed of some of the things I did or said in high school, there is nothing wrong with that. I have a feeling though, that you are a full blown psychopath, and no doubt you will be in the news again at some point, and it will not be in order to receive the Chamber of Commerce award.

  • Sylvia Bernstein

    Katy, your point about maturing is well taken. Yes, ours was a wild generation, and about 99 percent of us have grown up and matured and moved on. The Mussolino Brothers no doubt suffer from arrested development (as well as being arrested more than we care to know). I guess in a way they are to be pitied, but it is disturbing to see there's no remorse from either one of these numb nuts.

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