Monday, February 14, 2005

Blue Moon

I think it’s like when people who’ve been complaining about strange medical symptoms in freaky combinations to uncaring disbelieving doctors finally find someone who puts it all together for them, and even if it’s a hideous, disfiguring, terminal illness, shout “Eureka! My problem has a name!”
Mine is called a Perigee-Syzygy, which in case you didn’t know is what happens when the planets are all lined up in a certain order and then the moon stumbles over like a drunk on a bender and shortens the distance between the itself and the earth. Worse than getting a cocktail spilled down your shirtfront, when this two-part configuration of planetary doh-si-doh-ing occurs, according to experts, calamitous events are sure to unfold.
I should know. It happened to me.
Though I have to begin by saying that this sequence of circumstances isn’t happening solely to me – or even mostly to me – but it’s certainly one of the more disappointing developments that has occurred in the life of yours truly in recent months.
It was that damn magazine – the one with the improbable four name title (I mean – really! four!) that promised to bring Toronto the very latest news on the very latest bits and pieces, stuff and nonsense, nicks and nacks and pricey treats that Toronto apparently couldn’t live another nanosecond without.
It seems now that regardless, Toronto is going to have to learn to carry on sans the assistance of these luxury lists and content itself with the single edition that flew off the presses and into the hands of the approximately 14 people who could be bothered to pick up their free copy. Not to mention the other poor saps who may have made the cardinal error of paying at a bookstore for what was essentially a piece of cake to find free in some salon, boite or other plush place.
But like so many cataclysmic events, it all began so well.
Back in late September I stumbled onto a request for writers for a start-up luxury magazine and couldn’t re-write and post my resume fast enough. It turned out the Editor in Chief couldn’t reply fast enough either – within a couple of hours, I had a request for samples and then an assignment… really. Truly. For money. For publication. For real.
And that was only the beginning. As I tippy-typed my little fingers off for that editor, he in turn rewarded me with more assignments, more stories and began asking my advice on matters of “this one or that one?”; he was from Calgary – and I, who after 12 plus years can barely find my way home from the corner store, was his Toronto guide. And you know what? I wasn’t half bad.
It was fun. And silly as the magazine may have been, it was a pleasure to interview the subjects, write the copy and to help with putting together a brand new, real-live, grown-up magazine.
Long story short – we got the magazine out. I personally wrote 13 pieces (so many we actually credited the dog with a couple so as not to make the contents page look overly me-ish) and helped with the final edit of the whole magazine, as well as some judicious re-writing of some surprisingly sub-standard prose. (From professionals! But que sara – I was happy to help. Thrilled even.)
In the course of all of this, I ate many a contra-ed meal at many a super restaurant (Splendido, Ultra, Sassafraz) had a manicure and pedicure on the house at a glamourous Yorkville spa, and was asked to write some radio commercials for one of my story subjects for which I was rewarded with a pair of diamond earrings.
Nice gravy if you can get it – but the actual wages for my work never materialized.
We even had a launch party complete with free drinks and ‘amuse bouches’ and annoying media types at a completely irritating place frequented by the far more trendy than I. It was all happening is what I’m trying to say, though the money could still only be counted as amongst the missing.
The Editor in Chief was at a loss – he was sick at heart and embarrassed as all get-out, but the head office types in Calgary just kept insisting the cheques were in the mail, about to arrive, nearly there, next week, tomorrow… any minute…
Never actually.
And even then the publishers asked me to write some more for their Calgary mag – assuring me that I would hardly have time to blink before I’d be shoring up my bank account with some Calgary-flavoured dough.
I declined.
I even blinked.
But nothing happened.
What did happen was that little by little, the EIC found out that no one had been paid: not the printers (to the tune of several tens of thousands of dollars) not the writers, not the photographers, not the distributors. Not the rent on the office, or the leases on the equipment. NO ONE. And while all that was going on, the Calgary publishers were complaining about the divas like myself who refused to write for free. Me and my high horse were dissed from here to there, the Editor was chided for being unable to find folks willing to work for the princely sum of 20 cents a word… or zero cents a word as it turned out.
The horrible story is still unfolding; my friend the Editor in Chief is quitting in horror and disgust, the work commissioned for the second edition will go unpaid, the printers can whistle for it and the distributors presumably can just chalk this one up to ‘stuff happens’.
But the Calgary guys continue to connive – and the word is that some weasely character is attempting to put out the same stuff under a different name – trying to avoid the mountains of debt and the crowd of creditors – clearly hoping against hope that there really are a whole whack of suckers born every minute, and maybe even discovering they’re right.
But for anyone looking to be paid for their efforts or to be connected to quality, the guys at Adcomm Media are the guys to avoid.
So maybe it’s not a Perigee-Syzygy. Maybe it’s not an accident, a mistake, or just plain bad luck. Maybe it’s just plain old bad guys doing plain old bad business.
And though granted, this sort of stuff isn’t exactly on par with a disaster-provoking Mercury retrograde, or a meteor crashing through your roof – for those of us who worked for Toronto Living Luxury Magazine and scanned the heavens searching for an answer, this is at the very least, a very blue moon indeed.

1 comment:

whatupthen said...

So magazine writers are paid by the word, eh? Learn something new every day.

Sh*t, you'd better get your money. I've been in that situation more than once, albeit probably for much lower sums. It's never as difficult to get repaid as they say it is.