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Best of the New: Faces

Page 3 of 4 -- Patrick Smith

Somerville's Patrick Smith isn't new to the area - as an adolescent, the Revere native spent almost every weekend roaming Logan Airport. But until last year, which saw the publication of Ask the Pilot (Riverhead), a collection of the furloughed commercial pilot's thoughtful, funny air travel columns for Salon.com, we didn't realize what a talent we'd been overlooking. Named the Best Travel Book of 2004 by Amazon.com in both Editors' Picks and Customer Favorites, Ask the Pilot is brilliant on everything from the physics of flight to the romance of international terminals to popular air travel myths.

Lauralee Summer

Having gone from homelessness to Harvard College and then the University of California at Berkeley for graduate school, Lauralee Summer returned to Boston last fall to teach English at Charlestown High. As Summer, 28, says in her memoir, Learning Joy From Dogs Without Collars, her childhood was a patchwork of bus trips and shelters. She credits her success to good teachers; while her mother couldn't provide a stable home, she did teach her a love of books. And it was a teacher at Quincy High who taught Summer that she and her goals were worth something. She's clearly learned a bright-side approach to life. On first-year teaching: "I'm never bored." On returning to frigid New England: "It's exhilarating."

Nancy Taylor

She takes over a church founded by Puritans, but Nancy Taylor, the first woman to be senior minister in the 335-year history of Old South Church, is a progressive pilgrim. A supporter of gay marriage, Taylor, 48, believes in "inclusiveness, diversity, human rights, and the common good." She preached her first sermon as leader of the landmark church in Copley Square in January. With her husband, Peter Southwell-Sander, an Anglican minister and author of books on opera, Taylor has settled into the Back Bay. "The Old South Church . . . has been a pulpit with a public voice, a public theology," she says. "I will continue to carry out that tradition."

Bren Bataclan

In a city renowned for icy stares, Bren Bataclan longed to make people smile. In late 2003, the unemployed graphic designer left 30 canvases of grinning characters (think Keith Haring meets Japanese comics) around town with a note: "This painting is yours if you promise to smile at random people more often." By last summer, the city had embraced the Smile Boston Project. Thank-you e-mails piled up, and two hospitals commissioned the artist. At the Democratic National Convention, Bataclan gave paintings to the 50 state delegations. Now stores sell his paintings. The lesson for Boston? A smile makes a grand beginning.

They Got Game: The Sox and Pats rule, but a giant teenage hoopster is Boston's newest star.   Continued...

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Photos: Best new faces
Photo Gallery Photos: Best new faces
Frizzy-haired conductor James Levine took over the Boston Symphony Orchestra in the fall set a tone of artistic regeneration at Symphony Hall. (Photo / Mark Ostow)
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