Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Lou Grant back in a crazy writer's life

I can't seem to write anything with any force unless, figuratively, my balls are in stock...Seems the way the subconcious works: While you're in pain, the solution to complex problems can be supplied just like that. But Lord, take away the pain!

Right now the pain is coming from my accountant--precisely at the time Lou Grant is coming around.
Lou Grant. Not the hardboiled editor from old Mary Tyler Moore, no, a real one, actually a spit image of that TV character, but live, in the flesh, an old editor and publisher who once put out my Black Icon novel in serial form, though towards the end of that serialization, said, "I pay you $176 a week for this crap? I'm gonna kill it."

"But Lou, there are three more chapters to go. Will you at least let me condense those three chapters and call it a day?"

Hi grinds his teeth. "Okay. One more installment. But you only get a hundred and seventy-six."

I have always marvelled at my own Lou Grant's mixture of creative and business ability. Seemed to have both. Probably why for years he had been the assistant managing editor of the Toronto Star.
There had alaways had been sort of a natural affinity between us, though I myself never was much of a business man.
I guess it showed. I don't know how many times Lou Grant fired,yes, fired me for bad editorial decisions when it came to interviewing local moguls. Ya gotta watch what you say when printing stories on the rich and powerful.

This is where Lou Grant shone. He could charm Gabriel out of his horn. Like an early bishop of the Catholic Church, he could snag money out of a business man. Like an antique bishop could garner gold earrings from a dowager to build a new church in Ireland or somewhere.

Lou Grant was always lucky. He was always in some major enterprise.
And whenever I was un-fired and in his good graces, he would take me along for the ride, usully in the nick of time. Somewhow, the two personalities would always click.

Except the last time.

I had written, for The Toronto Star a goofy piece about a live goose on the track who had fallen in love with a Southbound GO commuter train. Everytime she heard that low whistle, she would go all feathers, and run out to meet the train. The story had garnered some interest with the locals of Newmarket ON.

One day the goose got up on the track to meet her locomotive lover and, SPLAT!

"Lou, I've got a new turn on the Sarah the Goose story and her locomotive lover.
Sarah has died on the track.

Lou had been in a bad mood that day.

"We don't cover suicides at the Star. Didn't you know that?...Too many copy- cat imitations afterwards."

"But Sarah was a goose. We can afford to lose a few."

Nah. The editors were upset ubout your last goose story. Too many innacuracies...Never let the facts get in the way of a good story. That goose wasn't in love with the GO train. It was just a goose that liked to honk at one train every evening."

Lou then went into his Donal Trump routine: "You're fired."


Recetly Lou Grant resurfaced as head a large Florida newspaper chain.

I just got a note from him.

In the nickof time. I am flat busted.

I think it's time for me to start interviewing love-struck geese.

One day at The Star, I overheard Lou Grant sort of taking my name in vain.

"Ivan? He's sort of a crazy bastard, but he sure comes up with some ideas.

"But half the time he cooks his own goose!"

Oh Lou.
Have goose in bag. Will travel.


Anonymous said...

Hi folks,

For the second time somebody I don't really know has been kind enough to make a better video than I can about my new book. It's at, and there is also a short write-up he did at

The latest issue of the guerilla poetry slip, Open Heart Forgery, has a poem of mine about xmas shopping. And some really good poems too. It's at

In The Coast this week I review 11 of the most significant environmental stories of the year:

And for the second year in a row I had the honour of making an end-of-year book recommendation for the Advent book blog. I recommended Michael Christie's short story collection, The Beggar's Garden, set in downtown Eastside Vancouver. Read the recommendation at

I also wrote a piece this week for OpenFile Halifax on the youth who turned their backs on Environment Minister Peter Kent's speech in Durban - three of them are from NS:

Happy reading!


See a video for Chris' new book at

Chris Benjamin is a freelance journalist, fiction writer, CBC News web writer/editor and a columnist for The Coast. He is the author of Eco-Innovators: Sustainability in Atlantic Canada ( and the critically acclaimed novel, Drive-by Saviours (longlisted for a 2011 ReLit Award and Canada Reads 2011). In 2006/2007 he worked as a journalist in Ghana. He shared an honourable mention in the 2009 National Magazine Awards. Chris has also written for The Globe and Mail, Toronto Star, Chronicle Herald, VoicePrint Canada, This Magazine, Now Magazine, Canadian Dimension, Descant, Arts East, East Coast Kitchen Party, Third Person Press, Nashwaak Review, Pottersfield Press, Rattling Books, The Society, University of Waterloo Press, Z Magazine, Briarpatch Magazine, Coastlands, Progress Magazine, Rural Delivery and many others.

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