Tag Archives: Mike-Boone

Mike Boone still has the last laugh

Mike Boone in the suburban man cave he blogs Canadiens away games from

Mike Boone in the suburban man cave he blogs Canadiens away games from

“I don’t feel a burning desire to write.”

That’s the last thing I scratched into my notebook when I sat down with Mike Boone at his home last fall. It’s funny because it’s coming from a newspaper columnist. I just did a search, and from 1985 (when the Gazette’s electronic database starts) to his goodbye column on Sept. 1, 2012, it counts 5,182 articles with “MIKE BOONE” in the byline. That works out to 192 a year, or 3.7 a week, on average, over that 27-year span, most of which he spent as the paper’s TV and radio columnist or city columnist.

In case you haven’t heard by now, Boone was one of many Gazette employees who took a buyout last fall. Sports writer Randy Phillips was another. Hockey columnist Red Fisher had taken his a bit earlier. Most of the rest of those who left were editors, photo technicians and other behind-the-scenes staff. People unrecognized by readers, but whose work all contributed to make The Gazette a quality newspaper, and whose departure caused it to suffer, despite valiant attempts by those left to compensate.

Unlike Fisher, whose retirement prompted news stories in The Gazette and in other media, Boone’s retirement (at a much busier time of the year for news) didn’t get much notice. He wrote a goodbye column, and quietly departed, striding off into the sunset toward that cul-de-sac in Pointe Claire.

Except he wasn’t entirely gone. He continues to blog Canadiens games for Hockey Inside/Out, and like he did when he was an employee, he’ll be at the Bell Centre for home games and in his basement for away games, providing live commentary with his classic funny flair.

As the Canadiens begin their playoff run today, attention toward the team, and traffic on the website, should go up.

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Red Fisher’s almost-100 years

Red Fisher

Red Fisher

Lost in all the hoopla of the Habs centennial is a really long piece by Red Fisher (it was spread out over three pages) about his career covering the Canadiens and all the great moments of the second half of its first century.

I point to it particularly because Fisher goes into a bit of detail in how he got started in the news business, before he even started covering the Canadiens:

A man named Hugh E. McCormick helped make the dream a reality.

I was a first-year student at Sir George Williams College, The Georgian’s one-person sports staff, when McCormick, the owner of the suburban N.D.G. Monitor, Westmount Examiner and Verdun Guardian, sent out a call for college students to report on the sports activities at their schools. A phone call to his office told him I was interested.

“You’ve got the job,” McCormick said immediately.

“How much do you pay?” he was asked.

“Nothing,” he said.

“I’ll take it,” I replied.

It goes from there to an adorable story about him writing a story about a junior football game for the Standard and having it tossed in the garbage by an editor.

But what gets me is that Fisher worked for free, and later took a significant pay cut, just so he could follow his dream of reporting on the Canadiens early in his career.

Half a century later, not much has changed. Plenty of young journalists would make a similar choice now, willing to sign their souls to the devil to get a press pass into the Canadiens dressing room.

More insight into Fisher’s career can be gleaned from this Dave Stubbs piece, first published in April 2006, when the Habs honoured his 50 seasons covering the team.

Speaking of the Canadiens centennial, Mike Boone’s weekly Eeee-mail makes note of the team’s mastery of marketing (to the point where we’re all getting sick of it). Jack Todd echoes that, noting the contrast between the Habs’ history and its present (and perhaps suggesting a link between the non-stop commemorations and the bad performance of the team).

By the way, I used to find it funny that Boone’s column, which appears opposite Red Fisher’s Red Line page every Saturday, was essentially a column about Fisher himself. Only Boone could pull off writing a column about another columnist and making it worth reading. Sadly, even Boone has reached his limit. Last week he officially retired the Living Legend of Sports Journalism schtick after 10 years.

A moment of silence for the passing of one of The Gazette’s silliest running gags.

Un gros merci

About a week and a half ago Mike Boone wrote a column about a discarded tea bag he found at the Georges-Vanier metro station (hey, it’s a slow news week), asking why we’re so disrespectful to our public places that we can’t walk the extra five feet to the trash can. The column sparked a lot of response.

I found it funny because at about the same time he spotted that tea bag, I used the station for the first time since its renovation and found this, thanking users for dealing with the station’s summer-long closure:

Un gros merci

Mike Boone LIES!

Hey, remember back when Gazette columnist Mike Boone was having problems with Sympatico Internet, and because he talked about it in the paper, he got a call from a VP in Ottawa to give him special treatment?

Recognizing that he was obviously getting better service because he was a newspaper columnist, and that prevented him from pretending he was like the rest of us, he promised not to take advantage of it next time he had a problem:

I still have the phone number of the guy in Ottawa who QBed the rescue effort. But as a gesture of solidarity with all the other schmos, I’ll report any future problems to Sympatico tech support – with one small adjustment.

“Next time you call, press 1 right away to choose French,” a neighbour advised. “That way you get connected to a techie in Canada.”

Well, less than two months later, it seems he’s gone back on his word, using the number to short-cut his way to a solution after the common-folk customer service people scammed him into paying Apple to diagnose a non-existent software problem.

I gave up. When I wrote a column, in July, about the nightmare of trying to set up the wireless system that Sympatico sold me, I got a call from the office of the vice-president of customer relations.

They arranged for a house call.

After some initial difficulties owing to unfamiliarity with Apple, the technician got me up and running.

I kept the phone number of the Sympatico’s VP’s office. When I called about my latest nightmare, they promised I’d hear from a senior technician that evening.

To Boone’s credit, he didn’t reach for the Special Treatment Number right off the bat, and the resulting grossly incompetent service gives him plenty of fodder for another column. But it’s hard to think of a columnist being one of us when that magic VIP lifeline is available to him to use at his convenience.

UPDATE (Sept. 24): Letter-writer Ruth Taylor, who had a similar problem, blasts Boone for taking advantage of his journalist status. She asked for a “Mac specialist” as Boone’s column suggested, but got nowhere. Unlike his gold-plated solution, she had to pay her own techie to diagnose her problem.

Crackerjacks at the Gazette

I know I’m going to get shot by some of my former colleagues for this one, so I’ll be keeping my head low. But I couldn’t resist this one:

Mike Boone, today on A6:

“…it is easier to throw a pork chop past a wolf than it is to slip an error or ambiguity past the crackerjack Gazette copy desk.”

From another article on that same page about burials resuming:

“The 129 gravediggers and maintenance staff, members of the Confdration (sic*) des syndicats nationaux, have been without a contract since Dec. 31, 2003. The workers’ last contract expired on Dec. 31, 2003.”

And in today’s corrections box:

“An Agence France-Presse story in Friday’s paper said former U.S. president Richard Nixon was impeached. In fact, Nixon resigned before the impeachment resolutions could be heard by the full House. The Gazette regrets the error.”

* The Gazette still doesn’t know how to upload articles with accents to its website.

Some retirement, Dennis

Dennis Trudeau on 940 News

Remember Dennis Trudeau? He used to be the anchor of CBC Newswatch (that was before CBC gutted local TV news — a decision they’ve thankfully begun to reverse). Two years ago he decided to retire, though he left the door open to other projects, saying he had “lots of ideas” he wanted to work on:

“In this wired world of 500 television channels, opportunities are limitless. I might like to be a commentator. I might like to write. But I do want to try something different from the daily news grind.”

Today comes the news that Trudeau will be joining 940 News as the new morning man, starting Sept. 3, along with Aphrodite Salas (who will move from her current late-morning show on the same station).

Trudeau is no stranger to radio. He’s hosted Daybreak, As it Happens and Cross-Country checkup. I’m sure he’ll do well in front of a microphone. But why oh why would someone who’s tired of the daily news grind agree to host a weekday morning radio show from 5:30 to 10 a.m.?

As for Ken Connors, who currently hosts the show, he’ll move to a “new” afternoon drive-time show on Q92.

UPDATE (Aug. 29): Two weeks later, Mike Boone adds his take with some words from Mr. Trudeau, who insists he’s never retired. It also adds a clarification: that it was Ken Connors moving to Q92 that prompted the station to seek Trudeau, rather than the other way around.