The Globe and Mail and Windsor Star

<- Page 8   |    [Karl's Home] [Lance April Fools Page] [White Label Humour]   |   Page 1 ->



Click a page thumb nail to view the full page










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:


  1. The 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.
  2. 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 originality senses.
  3. Third, 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 it was.


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 recession.


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 restaurants.


The question everyone wanted to know after Rae's election was would the NDP continue with the Liberal plan and ship out ministry jobs?


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 around Ontario.


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:


  1. American 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.
  2. Canada had recently absorbed an influx of leprechaun refugees and they were the frequent target of police brutality.


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 good-natured aplomb.


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."





<- Page 8   |    [Karl's Home] [Lance April Fools Page] [White Label Humour]   |   Page 1 ->





All stuff copyright 1990-2003 TransMetaPhysical Heresies R Us

(a subdivision of The Karl Mamer and Terry Brown Foundation for Creative Penury)


Email me if you want to give me a high paying job: