Wednesday, March 7, 2018

"Seriously Savvy"

You know how a post idea suddenly comes to me and I explain the reason it just now popped into my head?  Well on a recent walk by the beach, this post idea came to me and I have no idea why.  Perhaps the “Why?” will materialize along the way.  Let’s get started and find out.

I’m excited about this.  Are you?

Here’s a “Topic Sentence” you don’t see every day of the week:

"There was a time during my mid-twenties when I had ongoing problems with 'Regularity.'”

And now you know why.

Yes, the train was having big trouble reaching the station.  And that’s all I am going to say about it.  Except that… no, that’s heading precariously into “TMI” territory.

You’re welcome… for my generously leaving that out. 


During that time, I was writing a weekly column in a Toronto newspaper.  It was in the “School Kids” section of the paper but it wasn’t, like, “Block Letters”, or anything.  It was just me, writing surprisingly similarly to the current me, in a place where the Toronto newspaper allowed me to do so.  For two years.  So if it was a favor, it was a long one.

Not surprisingly, it being the late sixties, I submitted a column concerning the Viet Nam war.  I believe I was against it, though probably for idiosyncratic reasons, now thankfully lost to my memory.  That was the only column the paper ever rejected.  I was otherwise free to write whatever I wanted.

Although there was no question they would have trouble with “Regularity” – I mean the column, not the “commodial exercise.”  I did not for a moment think of chronicling such travails.

At least, not for that paper.

The thing about writers is, you have an idea – you have to write it.  Otherwise, it remains naggingly inside you, like…

Okay, I am not going there.
And you are welcome, once again.

This next part, I forget.  But I shall write about it anyway.  Otherwise, there’ll be a hole it this story, which you could poke a stick through and spin it around in a circle. (Which might actually be fun, but we’ll do it another time.) 

I discovered a publication perfectly suited to my discourse on chronic irregularity, an “alternative” underground bi-weekly out of New York, known as the East Village Other.

The part I do not remember is how I knew it existed.  Perhaps this occurred after my five-week adventure to become a comedian down there.  I can’t imagine running into the East Village Other in Toronto.

“Kinda pukey, eh?”

… is how it might be evaluated up there. 

“And no stories about the Leafs.”

Wikipedia describes the East Village Other as being “full of wild accusations, bawdy language and doctored photographs.” 

A seeming, suitable destination for the narrative in question.

Which I excitedly typed up, and mailed in.

And you know what?

They published it!

It was a little embarrassing to have my name on it.  But, you know, it was a good story, and a guy wants to get credit.  Albeit while “outing” himself concerning an unenviable difficulty.

Then, following my jubilation of publication celebration, this happened.

I was not remunerated for my submission.

Well… I mean…

You write a story – you expect to get paid for it.  The Toronto Telegram paid me.  Admittedly, not much – at first, twenty-five dollars per column.  These guys published my story and paid nothing!  In “American money”, that’s still nothing.

I was incensed by this perfidy (which I looked up and it fits.)  I dashed off an angry letter, soundly rebuking them for their treacherous behavior, and I mailed that in too.  (Putting me now two stamps “in the hole.”)

You know what they did?

They printed my demand for compensation in their “Letter to the Editor” column.

“Oh, man!” I thought to myself, between sputtering spasms of angry vituperation,

“These guys are geniuses!

I learned from that maturing experience that any criticism or complaint can be neutralized – or even turned to your advantage – if you savvy enough to know how.  And are also morally bankrupt.

What can you do in such cases but tip your hat and say, as the English:

“Well played.”

And you know what? 

I have still no idea why this suddenly came to me.

Wait, maybe I do.

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