The great Ray Guy raises his glass to the paper in his regular Page 3 column — headlined, this edition, Gutsy newspaper stands guard.
“If huge tree killers like, say, The Globe and Mail concentrate on the dithering fools in Ottawa and local chained puppies like The Telegram go through yappy motions about the House of Assembly … then who will watch the dozy dolittles on small local town councils.”
The Northeast Avalon Times doesn’t take itself too seriously.
Or at least editorial cartoonist Doug Bird doesn’t take himself too seriously.
The cartoon in the March edition has two birds sitting in a cage.
One bird looks towards the floor, and says: “Would ya look at that! It’s the tenth anniversary of The Times.”
Kathryn Welbourn, the paper's editor/publisher, also edited the 2008 book of Ray Guy columns, The Smallwood years, a collection of 167 of Guy’s columns and articles from the old Evening Telegram between 1963 and ’70, the latter years of Joey’s ridiculous reign.
They were frustrating times for a journalist in Newfoundland, as Guy points out in the book’s foreword; all public records were either destroyed or under lock and key.
“Somewhere early on I decided that the only course was to, perhaps, giggle the bastards to death.”
Maybe that’s the key to dealing with Joey’s bow-tie successor.
The Tely’s cartoonist, Kevin Tobin, draws Danny these days with a Smallwood fashion accessory, in case you hadn’t noticed.
The headlines of the old Ray Guy columns alone made me giggle.
Here's a taste:
Cabot made a boo-boo;
Newfie, Nigger, Frog, or Wop;
It’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s the saviour of his people;
Partridgeberries: A great new industry;
Wise virgins. The Big Bang Theory;
and, one of my favourites, You Rain Knee Yum.
Yet another memorable column is headlined There’s Clark Kent and he really is Superman! about life in The Tely newsroom, the “boneyard of broken dreams.”
Ray wasn’t always peaches and cream, which got him into trouble on the printed page.
And so he moved around a bit, but then horses were also shot out from under him.
One such horse, The Independent, ran his column once a month for as long as the paper was in print.
Ray Guy often made The Independent's quote of the week, as you’ll see below.
2005March 27-April 2
“(Mel) Gibson belongs to a splinter Roman Catholic sect much given to wearing barbed-wire jockey shorts because it feels so good when you take them off.”
“It is the flesh and blood of exiled Newfoundland, the bodies and souls who must still face the sad exodus, which must command the thoughts and efforts of any Newfoundland administration. It’s the people, stupid. The Rock never cries.”
“I detested his (Joey Smallwood’s) intestines when he lived and I’m still not sure he’s dead right now due to the absence of a wooden stake and a burial at the crossroads.”
2006April 1 (On the week The Independent closed)
“Over the years I’ve had, I don’t know, 10 or a dozen horses shot out from under me and … I’d really like to offer some cheer to people at The Independent who figure all is lost and this is it. I know how they must be felling. Who was it said: ‘I feel your pain.’”
“A recent review … noted that while 50 per cent of columnists concentrated on how to fix the world in three easy steps, the other half writes about nothing but the pimples on their own arses.”
“Flash not around thy fridge magnets and thy knickknacks. Keep the whoredoms, idolatries and fornications down to a dull roar.”
“Didn’t I spend enough time already kicking nine whole premiers in the goolies for good of themselves and the commonwealth.”
“My safest bet for housing, I sometimes think, would be a large cardboard box on the Health Sciences parking lot.”
•••Back to Ray Guy and his latest horse ... and column.
He writes that his “guts flop” over today’s news.
“Not the nasty news, since it has always been the nature of news to be nasty. No, it’s like being hit in the face with news pies, one after another. Global warming we have always with us. We’re all going to die! Swine flue. Half of us are going to die! Danny Williams, gone off someplace for some time to have something done. Will he leave us to die?”
Here’s to the 20th anniversary of The Times.
Pity there aren’t more like it.
And to Ray Guy, whose unsparing criticism is due to what he once described as "the bottomless gullibility of the Newfoundland people."
Ray Guy has done what few Newfoundland journalists can ever brag about.