EPISODE 8 (2004 – 2007)
Regarding sporks, a flow chart, and the shortcomings of Cirque Du Soleil
There’s at least one person reading this right now who bases their worldview solely on Netflix standup comedy specials with titles like Triggered, Cancelled, and Poopin’ in Your Safe Space. That person probably believes the Dig phased out the belligerent irreverence it was known for in the 2000s due to pants-pissing terror of run-amok political correctness. That person is wrong, primarily because political correctness isn’t a real thing. But there are other reasons too! And the Dig can’t do Exit Polls anymore because everyone has social media accounts, and thus no longer require this or any other newspaper to make spectacles of themselves in a broadly disseminated forum. Our job, it seems, is to tell stories that have not been told. Like these…
M.D. SAUNDERS (advice columnist): I initially reached out to the Dig when I was 15 and hospitalized with depression, but I was still writing and had one satirical article about sporks published in the Boston Latin School’s Argo. I was like, “I’m a published writer!” So I sent it to Joe. … For the purpose of not mispronouncing his name, I’m going to call him “Joe Kanye” [it’s actually Keohane]. I sent him a few pieces of writing and that published piece from the Argo. He’s like, “You’re a pretty damn good writer. Are you pulling my leg about being 15?” Boston being the big small town that it is, one of the mental health counselors on the unit had met Joe Kanye at some event and told me, “Tell him I can vouch that you’re actually 15 and that you’re actually serious about writing.”
LISSA HARRIS (managing editor): What were those event blurbs in the center spread? Dig This, right? I remember an intern turned one in for an ’80s nostalgia dance night. It was one of those events we had to promote because the salespeople wanted us to. The intern wrote something like, “The ’80s! It’s fun! Dance party!” I looked at that and said, “No, this is too earnest. I will destroy it,” and in its place I wrote something very meta, like, “We had an intern assigned to write this, but they didn’t get it because they weren’t there for the ’80s, so here’s what the ’80s were really about.” I believe that intern quit.
MICHAEL BRODEUR (music editor): It was certainly my first workplace where I had fellow gays to interface with, and not just interface with, but just sit there and talk about buttsex or whatever. There was definitely a gay majority at some meetings, and it was great because we could watch Jeff and Joe and Craig just wince as we would wield our gay power.
HARRIS: [The column] Gay Bash came about because we used to go to Formaggio for lunch and talk smack all the way there and all the way back. One time, Brodeur and I were riffing on something, and Keohane was like, “You should write this down.”
BRODEUR: Lissa already had the blog Women Do about the stupid way that women are routinely written about. Gay Bash was just us reacting to not just how stupid gay media was, because that wasn’t getting critiqued anywhere, but every week Bay Windows or In Newsweekly would cough up some gay hairball and it would just be the worst fucking thing you’ve ever read in your life. A lot of Gay Bash was just me and Lissa recoiling that we belonged to this community that was being represented this way, often by itself.
HARRIS: It was this distillation of this banter that we had walking to get sandwiches, and just expounding on our various frustrations with the gay community, but trying to do it in a funny way. Looking at it now, there’s something dated about Gay Bash. You couldn’t possibly do the same thing today.
SAUNDERS: Thinking about it now, how many sarcastic LGBT teenage writers were reading the Dig and thinking “Damn, I could do this!”?
BRODEUR: There was one local activist who was furious with me for writing “[a term we’re gonna go ahead and not print this time]ettry.” He was like, “We shouldn’t be saying that word. It’s oppressive,” and we got into a cliche exchange about whether you can take an offensive word and make it not offensive and who gets to use it, and all that type of stuff. He was mad about a Cirque Du Soleil review I wrote. I believe in the description, I referred to the sound of the music as “cosmic global @#$%ettry.” Oddly, he wasn’t mad about the @#$%ettry flow chart in Gash Bash.
SAUNDERS: Harris asked me if I wanted to write a column called Ask a Local High School Student, which was part of the Prob-O-Matic, the name of the Dig’s advice column. It had A Guy Named Joe, Michael Brodeur’s Mom, Idea Wolf, and I think Seth Putnam from Anal Cunt was one of the names thrown out there as a possible rotating advice columnist. I’m not exactly sure what happened with that, and I remember a few years after that, [Putham] died.
BARRY THOMPSON (exit pollster): It was the issue that was gonna come out of the week of Valentine’s Day, so I figure I should try to get some Exit Poll interviews at a flower shop. So I stand outside this shop for maybe an hour and ask whoever comes out, “Hey, wanna do this stupid interview for the Dig?” And they all tell me, “Nah,” so I walk away with this space to fill. That night I get dragged to a show at the Beachcomber in Quincy. While I’m there, a buddy of mine goes, “Barry, you gotta come with me while I smoke weed in this random car!” I’m like, “That sounds fine.”
We get into the car and there’s this guy with a walking cane in the backseat. My friend goes, “Dude, let me introduce you to Seth Putnam. He’s the lead singer of Anal Cunt!” Opportunistic asshole that I am, I say, “Excuse me, Mr. Putnam, would you care to give the Weekly Dig an interview?” He’s like, “Sure thing, buddy!” Of course the only questions I had prepared were left over from the flower shop fiasco, so I ask him if he likes pretty flowers, and what’s the most romantic kind of flower, and so on. He responded to these questions about flowers by talking about overdosing on smack on purpose and his purported hated of all things and related matters. So after that Exit Poll was a hit, the editors tried to get in touch with Putnam about doing the advice column, which never panned out.
Coming Up: More stuff about advice and Exit Polls, plus crossword puzzle gags about currently relevant political and pop cultural figures including Grace Ross and Kevin Federline.
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.