...the Journal

Refrigerator Door

I bought this magnet when Peggy and I were at Disneyland in October. Mostly I wanted it because I actually rode the Matterhorn. I'm not a ride person and even though I know that's a pretty wimpy ride by most folks' standards, it was still a big deal for me to get on and ride the thing.

Got an enemy?
Got an enemy you want to get? Try sending a virtual voodoo doll. (I can think of a few journalers who might want to make use of this!)

Or do you just Luv everybody?
If not a voodoo doll, how about a citation from the Love Police?

Or just Get Regis...
If you have nobody you love, or nobody you hate, how about just let off some steam by smashing Regis Philbin?

just finished:
by Nevada Barr

just starting:
The Night Listener
by Armistead Maupin

That's it for today!



9 January 2001

Well, it looks like I’m the new Community Editor for the soon-to-be-published DAVISMagazine.

A few weeks back, a friend mentioned me to the publisher, and the publisher to me and after a couple of abortive attempts to make contact, we did finally talk with each other last week. He asked if I had any writing samples he could see. I mentioned this journal and said that I was also the theatre critic for The Davis Enterprise.

"Oh! I’ve read your stuff," he said. "You’re wonderful!"

How can you not like a guy like that?

So I agreed to meet him this morning and he gave me an overview of his plans for the magazine, we talked at length about all sorts of things, and by the time I left, I was the new community editor, with business cards ordered, my name on the web site (in production at the moment), and a meeting coming up already on Thursday with the rest of the production team.

The first issue is scheduled to go out in March, so things will get going pretty much immediately. It will be a 32-page free magazine, with heavy emphasis on advertising, but lots of room for readable content on entertainment, local politics, technology, and a bunch of other things. If it can find an audience (and advertisers), it has a good shot, I think. The publisher is well organized and has put incredible thought and effort for a year and a half, getting ready for the approaching first publication date.

But I had a strong sense of dej v, however, as we talked. My brain was saying "Been there...done that."

We moved to Davis in 1973, when David was 18 months old. For the first few years I was busy being a stay-at-home Mom and Walt likes to tease me that I stayed home until the last kid went to kindergarten, and then I went out and got a night job.

I did. It was The Argus, a left-wing free newspaper owned and operated by a shady character whose name was perfect for him (and whose name I dare not use here for fear of libel charges).

I came on to do typesetting, I believe. I can’t really remember my first job, but over the course of the time I spent there, I ended up doing it all at one time or another. I learned a lot about paste-up, about using the big typesetting machines, about lay-out, about quick developing of film in the back room, and about how to keep the creditors at bay by paying with checks written on insufficient funds (I received a couple of those for my paycheck as well).

It was an interesting job. We were always in crisis mode, it seemed. Most of the staff quit (they didn’t like those "insufficient funds" checks!). It ended up with only three of us on the regular staff--Shady Character, myself, and a college-age woman. There was a roving reporter, a balding guy who looked homeless, who had ill-fitting dentures that he liked to slide in and out of his mouth with his tongue when he was concentrating.

We worked in an upstairs office, often until the wee small hours of the morning. I learned a lot about leading and paste-up lines and things like that.

Eventually I became the Entertainment editor. It was a high-fallutin’ sounding title, but since this was primarily a politically oriented publication, it meant essentially nothing. My responsibilities were to call the various clubs and get a list of the performers for the coming week and put together the entertainment calendar.

(This is where the dej v came in today because that is what the community editor’s job is going to be too...only now we do it by Fax.)

As I grew into the job, I started to get pretty cocky about it. Any time a friend was doing a concert, they got huge publicity in The Argus. The best was when a friend’s son was in a production of Gypsy at a theatre in Oakland. He was one of the newsboys, essentially a very brief chorus part. This particular theatre at that time had big name stars to do the leads and filled in the other roles with local talent. But Shady Character had no way of knowing that, so he never batted an eye when I ran a quarter page ad for Gypsy, starring Yvonne DeCarlo and Matt Buckner. Matt’s mom loved it.

I also had my chance to try my hand as an Erma Bombeck wannabe at that time. I wrote a weekly supposed humor column called "Airy Persiflage" (and discovered that Erma made it look waaay easier than it really was!).

Shady Character finally got himself arrested, ran out of money, and closed the office. The one good thing that came out of it is that at the time I had possession of the office IBM Selectric, which he’d sent home with me to do some work at home. He was pressed for cash and offered to sell it to me for a fraction of its worth. I used that baby for years afterwards and made a heck of a lot more cranking out term papers and resumes for students than I ever did working for The Argus.

Some years later, I was in the supermarket and ran into the college girl who was the third in our publishing triumverate. We never had anything in common and had never been great friends, but as we gazed at each other across the vegetables it was like two old war buddies meeting again several years after the cease fire. We had no "catching up" to do. We didn’t have the kind of relationship that invited "what have you been doing all these years?" between us. But we shared a very unique bond. We had both experienced Shady Character, and we had both survived the war.

I sincerely hope that the new DAVISMagazine is not going to be another Argus. The publisher appears to have it a lot more together than Shady Character did. And it will be interesting to see how much has changed in putting an entertainment calendar together in the intervening 30 years.

For one thing, neither Yvonne DeCarlo nor Matt Buckner are still performing. And Erma isn’t the competition any more.....


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Created 1/7/01 by Bev Sykes