EPISODE 5 (2004 – 2007)
“Think of a rabbit’s eyes”
If we absolutely must pick a moral to this entire serialized story, we’ve got at least two options. 1: The oft-circulated notion that every individual journalist is a member of some sort of “elite” “establishment” is silly bullshit. There is nothing approaching eliteness contained in the following anecdotes. 2: Doing journalism based solely on interviews is impossible, because everyone remembers everything wrong. Except maybe Amanda who used to run the front desk. She seems to have a pretty good handle on things.
AMANDA NICHOLSON (office manager): My first day was July 1, 2005. I was actually watering plants for the Dig before they hired me as the office manager.
JOE KEOHANE (EiC): I’ve had three fistfights with Jeff Lawrence. I beat him twice.
JEFF LAWRENCE (publisher): Keohane has won one of those fights. I’ve won one and we tied in the third. Keohane will tell you it’s two to one.
KEOHANE: In the first fight, we went to one of the Harpoon beer festivals. None of us were making any money at that point. So he drives us there, he disappears, and then he comes back holding the front of his T-shirt out and it’s full of hundreds of beer tokens. So we get completely plastered. It’s a giant scene. Eventually we get back into the van. Jeff is driving, he’s jamming on the gas, jamming on the brake, taking hairpin turns, and sitting in the back is like being in a washing machine. Finally, he takes the van screaming around a corner, and I fly across the back and open up a gash in the side of my head. As soon as we pull up in front of the office, I just tackle him to the ground. We fight for like an hour. Up the stairs, into the office. By the end of it, we’re laughing so hard that we can’t fight anymore. A while after I went into the Cellar in Central Square. I order a beer and someone says, “Do you have blood in your hair?” That’s when I noticed my hair was matted with blood.
NICHOLSON: There was copious drug use, which would not fly in your typical business, but with the Dig it was just par for the course until it was really detrimental. There was a lot of general swearing. People were pretty easygoing as far as edict went.
KEOHANE: We had another brawl in front of Foley’s one time. I had Jeff pinned down to the sidewalk by the shoulders with my knees; just slapping him around. And the third time I fought Jeff was in the office during a workday.
LAWRENCE: When he threw me down a flight of stairs, he won that one. Then there was the one at Foley’s, which he says he won, but he didn’t. I lost my balance, and that’s how it was resolved.
SHAULA CLARK (managing editor): I don’t remember exactly how it went from a discussion into a fight, but it was a Friday afternoon or evening, and uh, I think what set it off was Jeff seemed to be concerned that we were writing about The Middle East too much? He thought the fact that they were advertisers was influencing our coverage, and Joe was trying to argue that we were covering them because we liked the shows, which is such a strange argument that now I’m thinking that could not possibly be what it was. Joe would know, I suppose.
KEOHANE: I don’t remember what led to it at all.
CLARK: We had moved the kegerators to the back room because, I think, there was a sales guy who was a recovering alcoholic or something and found the kegerators distracting, so we just moved them into the back room. So the conversation and discussion moved back there, and at some point they ended up fighting, and I believe they were shirtless fighting on the floor. I think Jeff may have cracked one of Joe’s ribs. And they’d joke about it afterwards, because Jeff has this unfortunate … he’s got a very furry chest, but the area right around his nipples is hairless.
KEOHANE: The effect that Jeff’s nipples had on me is similar to if you look at an eclipse for 30 seconds, and then you just see it in your eyes for the rest of your life. Think of a rabbit’s eyes. You have the eye there, and then you have this stash of hair around it. There’s not a lot of compactness to them. Think of a lack of compactness and an abundance of weird hair, and that’s Jeff’s nipples for you.
LAWRENCE: We both took our shirts off. That was the rule. You had to be bare-chested. And I don’t want to speak on his behalf, but I don’t think I broke his ribs.
KEOHANE: I absolutely would’ve had my shirt on. I don’t even like taking my shirt off in the shower, much less a place of business. But knowing Jeff, it’s certainly possible that he would’ve done it. I’ve definitely seen him topless more than I’ve ever seen any other boss topless. I remember we were arguing over something, and it just kind of escalated. I don’t think any of us knew how to argue in a productive fashion about anything. It would just turn personal and mean very quickly. I’m sure it started as us having an editorial dispute as it often did, and then one of us told the other one to go fuck himself and it escalated pretty quickly. But it was sort of real and sort of not, which was the usual mode of our fights, and he drilled me and cracked one of my ribs. Jeff was super rowdy back then. He could drink an immense amount of alcohol and not be hungover in the morning. So he’d drink you under the table, and the next morning he’d come skipping into work, and you’d just be laying on the floor.
NICHOLSON: One night … I have no idea why I was in the neighborhood so late. I noticed a light on upstairs that shouldn’t have been on. This was a time when the front door of the building was basically unlocked. If you pulled hard enough, it would open, and we had a ton of booze leftover from some event in our storage room. The homeless people, I guess, hadn’t gotten into the Pine Street Inn across the street, and they were around and probably knew by then the door was open and they were probably looking for someplace to sleep. So they went upstairs, our door wasn’t locked either for some reason, and I went up there and found them going through bins and pulling out booze. I screamed at them and chased them out of the building. Then I called the landlord to fix the door.
In upcoming episodes: Nobody gets beaten up for a while, but someone gets a promotion, and we might eventually get around to talking about the actual content of the paper. Maybe.
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.