The ’90z – 2003 (cont.)
In which the paper’s distribution manager does not beat up a helpless old man (on purpose)
It’s easy to fixate on power struggles between characters with important-sounding jobs like “editor” and “publisher.” But sometimes, a supporting cast member makes a decision with truly major ramifications. In this tale, for instance, if the delivery truck driver doesn’t slip a piece of paper into a paperback copy of Hell’s Angels, the Dig has a different editor during its first boom period, which completely alters this publication’s trajectory, at least a dozen careers, and innumerable directly—and indirectly—associated events. It’s some real butterfly effect kinda shit.
CRAIG TERLINO (distribution manager): Before I started working with the Dig, I wanted to create my own magazine. I made this Good American survey, and I put it in all my favorite books at this bookstore. It was like guerilla marketing.
JOE KEOHANE (editor-in-chief): I was moving to Ireland for a little while, and I wanted something to read on the plane. So, at, ah … It was either a Barnes & Noble or Borders in Braintree, I bought a copy of Hell’s Angels. I opened it. It had a survey in it, and the survey said somebody was starting a magazine called the Good American and he’s looking for contributors. So I go to Ireland. I get back. I fill out the survey. Turns out this guy lives in Brockton and it’s Craig Terlino.
TERLINO: From there on out we created a friendship with a lot of drugs involved, but mainly absinthe.
DAVID WILDMAN (arts editor): I wrote for the Globe back when the Globe was trying to take on the Phoenix, so they were trying to be real local and young and into that demographic. Then September 11 happened and Marty Baron got rid of the Globe’s youth culture thing. My three columns got erased by Marty Baron. Thanks Marty—the man who is made to be such a hero in that crappy movie.
KEOHANE: After I got fired from my second dot-com, or maybe it was the the first one, I took my severance money, went to New Orleans, and spent it all in like three days. I wrote a story about it—this bad Hunter Thompson knockoff about looking for a good American in New Orleans. I got back, gave it to Terlino, said, “Show this to your boss.” They published it and hired me as a columnist.
LUKE O’NEIL (music editor): I was reading Something Awful—which was this funny website at the time—and I think I read something David Thorpe wrote about slaughtering your sacred indie cows, ripping into all these bands who were untouchable at the time; Joy Division and The Smiths and stuff like that. I reached out to him and asked if we could run it, and we did. I don’t remember if we paid him or if we were paying writers at the time, but he became a big hit. We would talk sometimes, and I’d say, “Yeah, you’re one of Boston’s best-known music writers and you’ve never even been to Boston.”
WILDMAN: I was insanely irate about George W. Bush, and I had a column in the Dig called “Wildman.” So I was doing that for a while, and then I heard that they were looking for people, and I wasn’t really doing too much else. They hired me, and told me I couldn’t do the column anymore, because it wouldn’t look too good for the arts editor to be ranting and raving about the president.
KEOHANE: When Jeff fired Joe Bonni, he wanted me to take over the Dig. I didn’t want to because the paper at that point was sort of … I thought it was tediously earnest and obsessed with marijuana and just wasn’t much fun. Then Jeff and my wife prevailed on me. I was unemployed at that point anyway, so it’s not like I had some great job I was abandoning.
TERLINO: There was this one guy who helped me deliver the papers for a while. One night—I shouldn’t have done this, it wasn’t my call—I let him borrow the van, but he didn’t go home like I told him to. He stopped at Phoenix Landing, had a blast, and had sex with two dudes. Or, at least I found two rubbers—with a little bit of juice still in ’em—in the van.
KEOHANE: One time, an old man attacked Craig Terlino with a cane. The way he tells these stories, these things just happen to him. He never thinks it’s his fault. Lord only knows what he actually did.
TERLINO: So I’m delivering in Jamaica Plain. I think it’s City Feed, or whatever. And I park at a bus stop ’cos even then commercial zones were being replaced by residential bike lanes. I run across the street. I look back, and there’s an old guy half my size hitting the van with a cane and spitting on it. So I grab the cane and go, “Do you fuckin’ mind?” He goes, “Is this your van?” I go, “Yeah, and I’d appreciate you stop spitting at it and hitting it.” He makes a fist, and I’m like, “You’re going to punch me?” Then the guy takes his cane and hits me right across my legs.
KEOHANE: Terlino had Gatorade bottles he pissed in while he was driving all day. I remember when he filled up his Gatorade bottle, without making a show of it in any way, he would walk over to the news boxes, take out the old Digs, put the new Digs in there, then go to the Phoenix boxes, take all the Phoenixes out, throw them in the trash, and replace them with this Gatorade bottle full of urine.
TERLINO: I grab the old guy’s cane. He’s pulling it and spitting at me. I let go of the cane. He falls into the window of a storefront, and everyone at the bus stop is immediately like, “What are you doing?! How can you do that?! You leave him alone! I’m calling the police!” I’m like, “What did I do wrong? He started it.” I call Jeff up, and every week Jeff would get a phone call about something going on with me, but it usually didn’t hold enough weight for him to really give a shit. This time he tells me to call the police on the old man. Instead, I take off. But the story snowballed, and I’ll run into people who’ve just heard of me and never met me to this day and they’ll say, “Oh, you beat up the old guy?”
Next time: An ex-columnist reckons with a profoundly ugly past as Season 1 comes to a close.
Barry Thompson lives next to a highway in the Allston/Brighton vicinity. He has written for a whole bunch of places, enjoys caffeine, and appreciates a good, hearty anxiety attack every now and again.