Satirist Mort Sahl used to say that one of the drawbacks of J. Edgar Hoover's decades-long tenure as head of the FBI was that he came to view United States presidents as transients merely passing through his life. Far be it for me to compare myself to J. Edgar Hoover (for one thing, I've only worn a dress a couple of times in my life), but I kinda understand what Sahl was talking about.
Having been blessed to be associated with this fine publication for more than 25 years, I have managed to maintain that association through a string of disparate editors. With some, I have bonded; with a couple of others, I merely coexisted; and with one or two, I had to bob and weave and do the Ali shuffle.
A couple of them—Serious Journalists, both—thought I was the Antichrist. One called me in to fire me, only to learn that I wasn't a member of the staff. (I've always been a freelancer.) She was still going to bounce me, when I noticed a book on her shelf and mentioned that it was one of my favorites. The book, In the Spirit of Crazy Horse, is a masterful indictment of the FBI's maniacal war on the American Indian Movement in the 1970s. It turned out that my editor was best buds with the book's author, Peter Matthiessen. She and I talked about that book for about three hours, and then she never messed with me again. See, kids, it's good to read books.
I've told the story before about how another editor took me to lunch and ended up with enough tortilla-chip fragments on her sweater to feed an Ethiopian village for a month. She told me that she hated first-person stuff; she didn't like sports; and she didn't think humor had a place in the Weekly. My next column had better be a work of serious journalism, she said, or it would be my last.
So, figuring I'd go out in a blaze of glory, I turned in "Tom Goes to the Golf Tournament and Goofs on People." (I even submitted it with that headline.) Fortunately for me, she got on the wrong side of someone higher up the food chain and was let go.
What followed was a succession of cool people, including a couple of my favorites, Dan Huff and James Reel. Alas, they all passed through and moved on.
Which brings me to Jimmy Boegle. For the past 10 years, I have had to endure an endless stream of this guy's snotty remarks, almost every one of which I richly deserved. Most of the remarks had to do with my occasional habit of tip-toeing up to a deadline, but he also issued forth on my taste in music and sports, and my Walmart wardrobe. He also came to see me coach several times, which goes above and beyond and is very much appreciated. Thank goodness we won every time he showed up; I'm sure he had some barbs ready had we lost.
Jimmy guided this paper through some challenging times with a steady hand and a clear vision. The Internet has caused dozens of daily newspapers around the country to blink out of existence, some (including the Tucson Citizen) after more than a century of publication. And with the ongoing death-by-a-thousand-cuts being perpetrated on the morning paper by its out-of-state ownership, it has become incumbent on the Weekly to step to the forefront. Believe me, it's a lot harder to be the voice of reason and the paper of record than it is to be the screamer on the outside, tossing eggs and tomatoes over the wall. (At least that's what they tell me.) Jimmy was up to that task and set high standards in journalism and community involvement.
In all his time here, he only axed one of my columns. After a couple of years of stewing, I came around to understanding his reasons for having done so. But I continued to T.P. his house for another six months, because I had bought in bulk.
Jimmy's far from perfect. For one thing, he went to Stanford, a school that was founded out of guilt by a robber baron and established in memory of a 15-year-old kid (which is the way most of the members of the school band act in public). The school's motto is Die Luft der Freiheit weht, which pretty much says it all, right? They claim that the English translation is "The wind of freedom blows," but most people just go with the shortened version, "Stanford blows."
Jimmy is also an ardent fan of the Los Angeles Dodgers, which puts him in a group that's even more exclusive than enlightened Republicans: Jimmy is a member of the group Non-Latino Baseball Fans Younger Than the Age of 40.
So at the end of the year, Jimmy's leaving us to start (along with his partner, Garrett) his own paper in the Coachella Valley part of California. The Coachella Valley, best known for its rowdy springtime music festival, has an official motto of "At Least We're Not Imperial Valley." It sounds like more of a challenge than an opportunity to me, but I certainly wish him the best.
He's a good guy and a great editor. I'm going to miss him.