"A New York Treasure" --Village Voice

Hard Times


The Boston Phoenix, the once-great alternative newspaper is gone. Over at Grantland, Charlie Pierce remembers the old days:

I mean. Jesus Mary, where do you start with the newspaper at which you grew so much, and learned so much, and came to respect the craft of journalism with a fervor that edged pretty damn close to the religious? What memories have pride of place now? The fact that T.A. Frail, now at Smithsonian, suggested you might just like Dos Passos’s U.S.A. trilogy and it wound up changing your life? The day that Doug Simmons, now at Bloomberg News, snuck up behind you and stuck a pair of earphones on your head, cranked Black Flag’s “Six Pack” up to 11, and taught you that rock and roll had not calcified when you graduated from college? What’s the song that plays when you realize that you’re young when you thought you were growing old? What’s the prayer of thanksgiving for a hundred days of fellowship, drunk on words, all of us, as though there were nothing more beyond the next word, the next sentence, the next paragraph locked into place? Please say that the muse is something beyond the balance sheet, something beyond technology. Tell me that she’s alive the way she once was when you’d feel her on your shoulder as one word slammed into the other, and the story got itself told, and you came to end and realized, with wonderment and awe, that the story existed out beyond you, and that it had chosen you, and you were its vehicle, and the grinning muse had the last laugh after all.

God, it was a carnival. I saw the publisher twice get into punch-ups, once with a staffer and the next time with a janitor. And, in both cases, it was at a Christmas party. We never got paid much, but we did get paid, and we were able to write about what we wanted to write the way we wanted to write it. We were a legitimate institution of Boston eccentricity, and we were proud of the fact that we were recognized for being that very thing. In 1982, when the 76ers beat the Celtics, and the Garden erupted into a chant of “Beat L.A.!,” the great Bob Ryan interviewed Darryl Dawkins and found Michael Gee, then covering the game for us. You have to have this quote, Ryan told him, because we can’t use it. Ryan had asked Dawkins what he felt like when he heard that chant from a Boston crowd.

“Man,” Dawkins said, “when I heard that, my dick got stiff.”

If I recall correctly, that was Gee’s lead.

One comment

1 glennstout   ~  Mar 15, 2013 12:54 pm

Amazing how rapidly it deteriorated in the the late 1980s, as the "Massachusetts Miracle" economic boom took place and the BP, in many ways, became the paper of the yuppie, all Crate and no Barrel. Political and arts reporting stayed relatively strong - if spotty - but the paper virtually dropped sports and got smug as Mindich made a pile off his personal ad phone system which he franchised out to alt papers everywhere. By the early 1990s it was just a shell of what it once had been, which at its best was sort of the Village Voice of Boston. Still, the thread that runs from Boston After Dark and the Phoenix led many , many places - one of my first eds was an After Dark grad. The Camel Soundboard - a two page spread in the center that listed every punk rock show in town, seven days a week - was our Bible for a time, the only ad that mattered.

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"This ain't football. We do this every day."
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