Rolling out that raggedy old chair

There’s a reason people like me should never play the stock market.

Some time ago, when I heard that a new arts and entertainment magazine was in the works, the cynic in me said it wouldn’t last six months. These things never do.

I could not have been more wrong if I’d bet my backside on Bre-X. At this precise moment, more than a decade later, you are reading the proof of my pathetic predictive skills.

In my defence, back then I had never met Tammy Beese, the publisher. I had not yet learned that once she sets her mind on something, you’d have better luck prying a raw steak from the jowls of a pit bull than persuading her to adopt a different course.

I had met the editor, Darrell Hookey, but I knew him only as an appliance salesman who also happened to possess a deft writerly touch that often made me burn with envy.

For almost four years, my relationship to What’s Up Yukon was strictly that of a consumer and occasional penny-ante advertiser. All that changed after I had retired from my lucrative government job telling the truth as I was paid to see it, and sat down one morning for a coffee chat with Darrell.

[“Hookey. Not Darrell. Our style is surnames only after first reference, unless the story includes more than one person with the same surname,” my inner editor’s left-brain voice insists. “It’s a first-person column; that rule doesn’t apply,” the writer’s rebellious right brain retorts.]

The upshot of that fateful meeting was that Darrell graciously let me sneak into his fine stable of writers with a weekly piece of self-indulgent drivel called Dear Mister Ed.

In September of 2010, mirabile dictu (Google Translate does a bang-up job with Latin), I was invited to help fill Darrell’s outsized sandals (did they come with socks or not? I can’t recall) as WUY co-editor.

For two years minus one week, I had the privilege of working with a fabulous assortment of talented writers and photographers, helping to unearth just a tiny portion of the Yukon’s bottomless mother lode of fascinating stories.

[Editor’s voice: “Yukon’s. Not ‘the’ Yukon’s. But either ‘the’ territory’s or ‘the’ Yukon Territory’s would be safer. And don’t use so many adjectives.” Writer’s voice: “Who gives a damn?” Editor’s voice: “You’d be surprised.”]

For two years minus one week, I grappled with newfangled technologies that always seemed just beyond my grasp, and did my grumpy geezer’s best to deal with the hair-rending torment of constant deadlines (see shiny photo above). Then fate intervened, and I followed my heart to a new home southeast of Whitehorse. Considerably southeast. I won’t name the community, but it’s on the Atlantic and was apparently frozen in amber sometime around 1957. Despite a considerably larger population, its cultural scene makes Whitehorse look like New York City.

[Editor’s voice: “You’re ranting. It’s unbecoming.”]

The only thing standing between me and madness has been an ongoing relationship with What’s Up Yukon.

[Editor’s voice: “Stop sucking up. And get to the point.”]

This is a roundabout way of saying I was thrilled when Tammy asked me to fill in for a spell when Peter Jickling decided to head for the lush pastures of Art.

So I’ve rolled out that raggedy old chair, dug up the moth-eaten Style Guide, and accepted the fact that constant deadlines will play havoc with my afternoon nap for the next six weeks.

An arts and entertainment magazine in a place like Whitehorse? Doesn’t have a chance. These things never do. Here’s a tip: buy Bre-X.

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