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The Globe and Mail & Windsor Star was our
year-later follow up to The PennySaviour.
Parodying The Globe and Mail, Canada's national newspaper, was not
our first choice for three reasons:
Globe was a predictable target of parody. Every school newspaper
tended to take a whack at the Globe on a yearly basis. It had
been done to death.
- A few years previous to The
PennySaviour, The Lance had done
a wonderful parody of America's national newspaper USA Today. It was called the USA Toady.
Terry and I felt parodying a national newspaper only a few years after
it had been done and done well by The Lance would rankle our
few people in Windsor really read The Globe and Mail. Many
referred to it as "Toronto's National Newspaper" for its
overtly Toronto-centric theme. With the exception of stories where
teenage parents drown their new born in the Detroit river, it was rare
any local news made it into the Globe. The Globe was
also expensive, especially compared to Detroit's two daily papers
which were coming off of a ruinous circulation war, a war that saw
each paper drop its cover price to a mere dime. Few in Windsor
actually paid attention to the Canadian national scene to begin with,
given Windsor was super saturated by American media. Windsor was also
a blue-collar town and most of its paper readers were interested in
sports, as opposed to say business. (Windsor people are so
uninterested in business that the local Windsor Star usually buries the business section on the
last 3 pages of the sports section.) In Windsor sports meant Detroit
teams: the Tigers, the Red Wings, the Lions, the Pistons. So it was
very much in doubt that anyone in Windsor would get witty little jokes
about Globe editor William Thorsell.
My idea was to do a parody of a flashy new Detroit
entertainment weekly called Orbit. This would be the Windsor version
and it would be called "Obit" (i.e., "obituary")
implying Windsor's dead night life. It would have fake ads for pubs and
record stores, goofy movie and concert reviews, etc.
Near the end of February, we held a meeting to decide
what publication would be the target of this year's April Fool's parody.
With my triumphant Pennysaviour parody
still fresh in the minds of most of the paper's volunteers, my Obit
idea would surely sail through a vote.
How wrong I was.
After presenting my idea for Obit, someone1
threw an astoundingly original Globe parody idea into the ring. Much
debate ensued back and forth -- with me mostly screaming in a shrill
effeminate voice "the Globe has sooooo been
done, man" -- the staff voted down my Obit idea. The Globe
Now all that was needed was to pick an editor for the
parody. Still hugely attached to Obit, and not seeing anything at
all funny about this Globe idea, I removed myself from the running.
Terry Brown was nominated and won by acclaim.
Terry understood the hackneyed nature of any Globe
parody2 and knew he had to put an original spin on it. What he
came up with was nothing short of brilliant, and tackled two interesting
events that were taking place locally and provincially.
Locally, the two Detroit dailies had entered into a
highly controversial "Joint Operating Agreement" (JOA). Many
large American cities were rapidly becoming one paper towns. Rising labor
and newsprint costs, and falling readerships and advertising revenues were
making large sized dallies unprofitable. The solution, some believed, was a
JOA. Papers would share certain cost centers like accounting, HR, printing,
and distribution. To pay for it, they would pool advertising revenues. To
many this seemed like a huge violation of anti-trust legislation. It's like
Ford, Chrysler, and GM sharing their R&D division. Lawsuits flew like a
stack of Sunday papers in a wind storm. Eventually the Supreme Court had to
settle the issue. The high court felt that JOAs
were an acceptable violation of anti-trust legislation as the alternative
was bankruptcy and the loss of one or more editorial voices.
Provincially, a newly elected NDP government under Bob
Rae won a surprise majority government. Few predicted the NDP would win.
The Ontario Liberal minority government had managed the booming, late '80s
Ontario economy well. They managed to lower some taxes and achieved a rare
operating surplus. Heady with success, Premier Peterson called a snap
election a couple years short of his 5-year mandate (that is if one can
call a minority win a "mandate"). Now this is where game theory
can have weird results. Everyone went to the polls assuming the other
guy was going to vote for the Liberals. Since a Liberal minority government
with the NDP watching its six had done so well, it made sense to vote for
the NDP to keep the Liberals from achieving an actual majority government.
Little of the old chin music. Keep 'em back. Keep
'em honest. Problem is a majority of voters ended
up reasoning that way and everyone woke up the next day not to a Liberal
minority government but an NDP majority government. Ho ho! Oh yeah, they also woke up to the start of the '91
Before the election, the Liberal party was on the verge
of putting into plan an earlier campaign promise to redistribute around the
province thousands of government jobs and ministries concentrated in
Toronto. For example, Sarnia would get the
Ministry of Labor. North Bay would get the Ministry of Health.
While this sounded like a great idea to people in North
Bay, hungry to get some cushy government jobs, this didn't sound like such
a great idea to people in the Ministry of Health who worked, lived, and
owned homes in Toronto (a city of about 3 million people and many good
Indian restaurants). Toronto-based civil servants were livid they'd have to
pull up stakes and move to some jerk water town that had no good Indian
The question everyone wanted to know after Rae's
election was would the NDP continue with the Liberal plan and ship out
Terry decided to answer that question with his Globe
parody. His idea was the Rae government, faced with an even more dire
economic situation than anticipated, would go one better than the original
plan of exporting Toronto jobs. Instead, they would physically break up
Toronto itself and send its parts, people, buildings, and institutions
Windsor, as it turned out, was getting the Globe and
Mail (Thunderbay was getting the Toronto
production of The Phantom of the Opera, requiring a lot of ushers
who not only could find seat HH12 in the dark but could help patrons
portage to the theatre). Since Windsor already had a newspaper, The
Windsor Star, it was decided the two papers would enter a joint
operating agreement and publish one paper called The Globe and Mail and
Windsor Star. Here, of course, Terry weaved in a chance to poke fun at
Detroit's JOA debacle.
Most of the articles, then, were parodies of Windsor
Star hacks trying to write like high falooten
Globe writers and Globe writers lacing their articles with
obvious distaste for Windsor. A third element was borrowed from the
aforementioned USA Toady parody. One
thing that made it successful was, in Terry's words, "it had
tone". There was a running joke in most articles about America replacing the dollar with cheese. The
Globe parody, then, made references to two reoccurring threads:
Express had run out of precious metals to name its prestige cards
(gold, platinum) after. It had to, then, corner the market on a common
metal and create an artificial shortage. Amex decided it would corner
the market on pop can pull tabs people were mistakenly hording in the
belief that if you saved a billion of them, you could donate them to a
hospital to buy that Life cereal Mikey kid
extra time on a dialysis machine.
- Canada had recently absorbed an influx of
leprechaun refugees and they were the frequent target of police
When The Globe and Mail and Windsor Star hit the
stands April 1 it was well received. Although loaded with a level of humor
that beat the ass off my Pennysaviour, it
failed to touch off the latter's level of controversy. The Star never
called Terry like it called me. About the only Star person who
acknowledge it was the Star's "Windsor Beat" columnist Jim
Cormett who took his beating with his typical
I think Terry was a nudge disappointed.
1 As it turns out, based on consultation with
Terry, Larry Deck was the one who was pushing for the Globe parody.
However, he seemed to be reticent to challenge my Obit idea. In a
move that would make Francis Urquhart proud, Larry had someone else
introduce a motion for the Globe parody.
2 Terry's commentary "I had
complained no one but Larry read the Globe so who the hell would write it,
let alone get the jokes? Man ... so I spent a few days alone in coffee
shops hashing it out -- I recall being in Ferrari's (that old greasy spoon
on Rankin and University) when I hit upon the solution. Amazingly, Larry
went along with it."