More often than not, this poor, put-upon saintly newspaper is on the receiving end of calls for my perfectly formed head. In high-pitched, nasally voices — better suited for local hens clucking, “Well! The Ladies Auxiliary will CERTAINLY hear about THIS!!” — my alleged prose offends some. A luckless Signal receptionist, editor or publisher (they’re actually all the same person, disguising their voice) will take that incoming call.
Outrage is spewed from a Sergeant-at-Arms at the Santa Clarita Valley Alliance of Shih Tzu for Brains. Or a Democrat who sprained a finger reading. Or, the lone member of Born With The Wrong-Sized Sphincter.
Hmmm. The Sphincters. Great band name. I think they’re playing at Canyon’s Winter Prom.
Last week, the faithful noticed, or not, that my regular Friday Mr. SCV column went missing. Upper Management and three on-staff Vatican exorcists felt if my last opinion saw day’s light, it would offend cats, dogs, the Civil War dead and the counterculture booger-eating Pronoun Nazis.
As usual, the Signal grey beards were right. It’s tough enough in these woke climes to print a chili recipe in the daily newspaper without having hordes of unwashed screaming protesters glue their distorted faces to The Signal’s minimalist front picture window to protest victimized chili beans or adverbs.
I see their point. Adverbs can be very, really, very annoying.
Was I upset about my column not running? Not one iota.
When The Los Angeles Times was in the early stages of its woke death throes years back, the once-great newspaper offered me a job. A fat job. Three columns, $1,500 a week. Didn’t even have to drive in. They wooed me. Dined me. The final meeting, I had lunch at a 5-star Downtown L.A. eatery with two dozen management suits. Over dessert, I thanked them for the meal and attention, then brought up The Question Taboo. “So. Respectfully, how many of my columns would you guys at The Times actually — publish …?”
Silent went the table. It was as if I had suggested women Army officers wear miniskirts, carry cocktail trays and be addressed as, “Sweetcheeks …” They wanted me to be funny, but not really — funny — and certainly, holding steak knife and knowing smile, never stand next to any of The Velvet Coffin’s uncountable sacred cows. “Maybe one? One column?” one editor was finally honest enough to answer. I never took the job. I stayed at The Signal.
I don’t think there’s a single newspaper, certainly not a daily, anywhere on Earth that would allow me — or anyone — the expression I’ve been gifted here in our yuppie concentration camp called Santa Clarita. I’m beyond grateful.
Granted. I think the country fell head-first into our present end-o’-civilization hot mess because not enough publishers stood up to the tyranny of Political Correctness with a concussion-causing right cross to the metaphorical woke nose. Heroic, courageous, The Signal has given me much.
Eons ago, when I was sports editor, there was a post-football game altercation when Hart High was attacked by drunken, shotgun-toting yahoos three time zones away in Burroughs-Ridgecrest. Which sits inside the Arctic Circle. (I’m STILL spending The Signal’s money from the mileage/meals check!)
After getting their Cro-Magnon heinies handed to them on a rabbit doily, 712-Negative 6, the Ridgecretians aerated, with 12 gauges, the Mighty Hart Injun bus on its descent from Bigfoot Country. For goodness sakes, they SHOT AT a full school bus. (The drunken BR buttheads. Not the Bigfoot.) Next issue, atop a cold, lonely Signal layout bank was The (award-winning) Signal Sports Page. Awaiting final proof and blessings from someone with “Newhall” in their name was the giant, New York Post-esque headline:
“THEY EAT THEIR YOUNG
Signal owner/publisher, the legendary Scott Newhall, inspected. He made an old person groan, shook his head and painfully pronounced, “Kiddo. You just — CANNOT — run this in a community family newspaper …”
I didn’t make eye contact, but, bowing and genuflecting, I did point out that Scotty had published, in an “ANGRY UFO FROM MARS ATTACKS SAUGUS”-sized headline, the word, “B*******!” Above the fold. Front page, 36,000 copies. Scott didn’t run asterisks. He ran the actual motherless child swear-word. Scott’s editorial was about Highway 126’s speeding nutso truckers. Scott was against the practice. Feigning innocence, I asked my boss: “What’s the difference?” between our two headlines? Normally, Scott would have sent a terrified intern to fetch a dull ax with which to liberate my 1-ounce brain from my 64-pound skull. Instead, Scott Newhall laughed, shook his head and walked away from my unsubstantiated cannibal accusation, mumbling a 12-pound swear word I later had to look up.
Signal Editor Tim Whyte? I’ve laughed so hard with him I’ve coughed up spleens (they grow back). Years ago? We had a playful argument about whether you could publish, “Numbnuts” on Page 2, or, for that matter, on any sacred Signal page which, in a better life, used to be a tree. Tim felt “numbnuts” could be misconstrued to refer to a chap’s frozen, naughty and uselessly immobile reproductive region. I falsely defended that “numbnuts” was actually a rare, Brazilian rainforest giant pistachio. It got really heated when this Canadian doughnut-eating illegal alien/editor insisted that the word be — “hyphen-ated.”
I’ve written columns yanked for using a word, no longer de riguere, describing short people that rhymes with “widget.” That column falsely reported Gov. Gavin Newsom’s idea to build tiny housing units to cradle the SCV’s chronically short and homeless.
Living in an insane parenthesis, The Mighty Signal has given me the rarest of gifts — a tall parapet and a magic bow that flung cream pies. Editors and publishers have shown me fools and presidents, crooks, perverts, simpering bureaucrats, countless emperors all stark-raving nude, then instructed, “Johnny boy — let ’em have it …”
How impossibly lucky am I?
The SCV’s John Boston is Earth’s most prolific humorist and satirist. Visit his bookstore at johnbostonbooks.com. Coming soon, “The Unauthorized Autobiography of Joe Biden.”