Chapter Eight: Starting Over

When Joe’s Hockey East contract was not renewed in 2020, he had to re-create a work life that would be without conference employment for the first time in 38 years. Much of his new life involved a return to writing, as he had done so many times. In Chapter Eight, Joe looks back on some of his non-hockey writings over the years.

I don’t know if I should admit this but the most satisfying job I ever had was not in athletics. It was the year-and-a-half that I spent producing newspaper parodies. My team wanted to be The Onion before The Onion ever existed.

It was the summer of 1980 and I was working in Harvard University’s sports information office when I got the idea to do a parody of the Boston Globe. During that summer, I would tell anyone who would listen about these plans, and then one day, when I was explaining this to an acquaintance named Jay Elliot, he stopped me and said, “That’s funny. I was just at this guy’s place in New London, NH, and the bathroom in his office was wallpapered with pages from a New York Times parody, Not the New York Times.”

Jay, who was working for a scholastic magazine at the time, offered to introduce me to his publisher friend, Larry Durocher, and I followed up with plans to drive to New London and meet him. First, I did a little research on Larry. A native of Belmont, MA, a town adjacent to my hometown of Arlington, Larry never attended college but had been hugely successful as a publisher and direct mail marketing legend. He had been publisher of the Boston Phoenix and Rolling Stone magazine.

The meeting with Larry went well and by the fall we had brought in a third partner, a Dartmouth alumnus named Dennis Jolicoeur, whose family owned a small weekly “shopper” that was distributed in southern New Hampshire. They also owned the local Pepsi distributor license, the Pepsi trucks and the newspaper working out of the same facility in Manchester, NH.

I would be the editor of Not the Boston Globe, making sure we had 24 filled pages. Dennis provided financing and a place where we could print the parody. And Larry would be the publisher, ensuring that we had retailers who would sell it.

Our first headline, “Reagan still asleep,” came from my watching the Today show one morning, the lead story being one of Navy fighter jets shooting down a plane over or near Libya. Part of the reporting referenced President Reagan being asleep when it happened and the staff not feeling the need to wake him. We ran with that, concocting a story where Reagan had been asleep for days and Alexander Haig deciding not to wake him, etc.

I contacted a photographer who covered Reagan during a primary stop in New Hampshire. I asked him if he had any photos of Reagan with his eyes closed, perhaps blinking. He delivered exactly that and it ran next to our lead story.

The very first story I wrote for the parody was an obituary of the Pillsbury Doughboy, Poppin’ Fresh. It began, “Poppin Fresh, known to millions of Americans as the Pillsbury Doughboy, died late Saturday afternoon as a result of a kitchen accident in Battle Creek, Michigan. The popular television personality was attending the annual Pillsbury Bake-Off when an overzealous fan poked the loveable figure in the stomach and sent him sliding along a counter top and into an unattended Cuisenart. Fresh died instantly.”

I think my favorite line in the entire paper was the obituary’s ending: “Services will be conducted at Stroh’s Bakery at 11 a.m. on Tuesday where Mr. Fresh, according to his wishes, will be baked at 375 degrees for ten minutes.”

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