The great editor
If you’re running a weekly newspaper, credibility is a real nice thing to attain. Indeed, it’s the one trait a paper needs to attain. And doggone it, last week we lost, in a flash, a truly valuable Minister of Cred.
Dennis Myers was my editor here for the last … well, lots of years. I would send my column in every week (pushing my deadline to the wall more often than not, which kinda drove him occasionally cuckoo, but he was an admirably tolerant man), and there were plenty of times I’d get a reply. If he was making a correction or chiding me for some sloppy inaccuracy (and doing so in a smooth and professional way), I gotta admit the dude was correct about 99 times out of 100. Rare and memorable were the instances where I could justify my position after his initial finger-wag.
And if he had praise for a sentence, a graf or a column, it was nice. A compliment from Dennis meant something. The guy was a stone cold pro’s pro. On occasion, I would harken back to our old fart roots and Boomer cultural context, and quote good ole Perry White, the editor of The Daily Planet, that great metropolitan newspaper that was home to reporters Clark Kent, Lois Lane and Jimmy Olsen. I would borrow Perry’s timelessly memorable favorite oath, and say something along the lines of, “Great Ceasar’s Ghost, Myers, I’ve given you the lede of the century!” (A statement to which D.M. rarely agreed.)
So, yeah, my Perry White has departed The Daily Planet. His replacement will not be easily found.
There are times when a columnist deeply appreciates his ass being saved by his editor, and the best save Dennis ever bestowed upon me happened on the day after the Nightmare Election of 2016. That incendiary event took place on a Tuesday night, but my latest possible deadline was Tuesday morning. Feeling I simply had to write about the election, I said to myself, “Oh, fuck it, of course, Hillary is gonna win,” and then cranked out an excellent celebratory column, hailing Hill’s historic achievement while also declaring that the Republicans, as a party, were now Total Toast. It was good stuff. Unfortunately, by Wednesday morning, it had a slight accuracy problem.
I sent Dennis a message that accursed morning after a shitty night of sleep. “Great Caesar’s Ghost, Myers, I’m a chowderhead! And a fool!” His reply was swift. “You’ve got 20 minutes. Not 21. 20.” My reply? “I’m on it!”