Wednesday, December 16, 2015

How Much Will We Miss Vic Plaza?

In memory of Terence McConnell, a beloved brother and uncle who passed away earlier this week.

My uncle Terence used the pen name Vic Plaza to write delightfully outlandish letters to the editors of New York City newspapers. The pseudonym was derived from his own uncle, Vic, and a Brooklyn mall, King's Plaza.

Here's what Vic Plaza wrote in the New York Daily News after Hurricane Sandy destroyed much of Rockaway:

I would like to thank the Mormons for all they did for the Rockaways in the wake of superstorm Sandy. Send us more Mormons so we can send the hipsters to Utah. --Vic Plaza

In this message and others like it, Vic combined a love of his hometown, a heartfelt message, and a well-timed barb to make his point.

Why did Terence feel the need to adopt this alter ego? What was the primary purpose of Vic Plaza?

As one of most well-read men I've ever known and a former English teacher, Terence certainly admired writers who assumed pen names, such as Samuel Clemens. (The King's Plaza Shopping Center was Vic Plaza's equivalent of the Mississippi River for Mark Twain.) As a connoisseur of Jonathan Swift -- and the Swift Hibernian Lounge in Lower Manhattan -- Terence also undoubtedly loved the satirical commentary Vic Plaza allowed him to provide. Additionally, as a staunch conservative, Terence not-so-subtly sneaked his politics into Vic’s writing. And, as an immature prankster, Terence used Vic for some good old-fashioned trolling.

Regardless of Terence's primary reason for creating his alias, Vic Plaza provided hours of laughter for his family and friends. Vic was a running joke at our family holidays and a favorite topic of conversation at Rogers Irish Tavern in Rockaway.

A few weeks ago, Terence even had business cards made up:



My dad bought Terence a refill of the cards for this upcoming Christmas, since so many people wanted a Vic Plaza memento. Even before Terence's death, Vic was already a legend.

As we mourn and miss Terence in the upcoming days, Vic Plaza reminds us of some of his best attributes: intelligence, passion, creativity, mischievousness, and humor. Oh yes, humor. Definitely humor.


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Follow Francis Tolan on Twitter @frantweet

2 comments:

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  2. Dear Francis, I was a good friend of your uncle albeit a bar pal but nevertheless a kindred spirit in many ways. I too was a onetime teacher and lover of most of Terence's literary influences. In fact I lent him amongst many other books the latest biography of Swift and realized he'd grasped it much more firmly than I had. He was unbelievable! So anyway I'm writing this letter to you to ask you if it would be okay to reproduce this eulogy to him on Facebook? I have a fair number of Rockaway people on there, I think they'd appreciate it. You did a fine eulogy in person on Wednesday, sounding like a bit of a chip off the old block! I extend my condolences to your extended family, this terrible tragedy coming so soon after Mrs. McConnell's passing. For what it's worth I too am utterly shocked and saddened by his passing. You can reply to me at Iormara@aol.com, it's easier. Sincerely, Joe Mara

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