Met Memories

Sure, this column is full of cuss words and self-indulgence. So was my old paper.

Make no mistake: We also ran trainloads of shit. Review the paper's first three to four years (I left after two years), and it's impossible not to laugh at some of the stories we wrote, at some of the greener-than-Bermuda-rye freelancers whose work we published. We were, to be sure, an easy target--especially when I once published an apology on the cover because I had jokingly inserted the quote "I'm that fucking good" into a profile of a well-known classical musician. (It wasn't meant to run, but, oh well.)

But we also did our share of standard-issue newsweekly stories--a look at the decline of the art deco masterpiece that is Fair Park, profiles of important local writers, some crime-and-punishment covers, and so on. And there's no mistaking that the paper connected with a younger, hipper reader. We had a bar columnist--first Joe Capasso, then David Blend--who became known by bartenders and patrons about town. We wrote the first large profile on the founders of id Software, creators of Doom. And we wrote about music, cussing, and drinking, not just because it was a way to "reach the reader," but because we wrote about everything and anything we cared about. We wanted to be, in the words of anti-grunge singer Todd Snider, "alternative to alternative."

Joe and the self-indulgent part of this story that really breaks up the narrative
The crew, year two: row one: moi; row two, left to right: Joe Guinto, Marina Isola (now at Architectural Digest), Keven McAlester, Joy Dickinson; row three: Tim Rogers, Scott Kelton Jones, Chris Shull, Gregory Kallenberg, some dude, Kim Harwell.
The crew, year two: row one: moi; row two, left to right: Joe Guinto, Marina Isola (now at Architectural Digest), Keven McAlester, Joy Dickinson; row three: Tim Rogers, Scott Kelton Jones, Chris Shull, Gregory Kallenberg, some dude, Kim Harwell.

Our goals became possible, though, only because of the talented, smart, outer-limits nut-bar staff that we hired as the paper grew in its first few years. Other good people came later--editors Sally Shults, Adam McGill, Bret McCabe--but it was these people whose hard work, love of sophomoric humor, and drunken exploits laid the foundation and created the personality blueprint for the hires that would follow. They did good journalism-type stuff, but more important, they added, through their own vastly different personalities, an appeal that made the paper more than just a frat rag--because, in the end, despite some awards and accolades, personality was about all The Met ever had going for it.

Joe Guinto, managing editor: Joe was the man who made The Met happen, the newspaper guy who understood that we were only as good as our sources or our dick jokes. When columnist Tim Rogers and I got drunk on Halloween night and passed out during deadline, he and the staff had to work until 6 a.m. to cover for us. The next day, even though he worked for me, he sat me and Rogers down in my office and, red-faced, berated us like children, so much so that the vein on his forehead began throbbing. My favorite story of his: a look at a Hooters lawsuit, because besides being a well-written, entertaining business story, it allowed me to put huge breasts on the cover. (Guinto is national affairs reporter for Investors Business Daily in Washington, D.C.)

Tim Rogers, humor columnist and major general editor: Everyone remembers his columns, which later became known as "Mr. Funny Guy." (Always hated that name.) Many are indeed memorable: how to sneak into the Ballpark in Arlington, interviewing Jose Eber during a haircut, several examining the art of masturbation. He was the paper's biggest personality, the human face of what the paper was and what it tried to be. Tim was best known on staff, though, as the man who entered a La Bare amateur stripping contest.

Keven McAlester, music editor: nicknamed DJ (he was an original co-host of the Edge's Adventure Club) and Harvard (his alma mater), he was master of the movie quote as catchphrase (from Mr. Mom: "220, 221, whatever it takes") and easily the smartest person on staff. As such, he spent little time working, since everything came easy to him; most of his time was spent playing video games. When we were there late on deadline, it wasn't unusual for us to, at midnight, turn off all the lights, crank up the volume on every computer, and engage in a screaming, hour-long tournament of Maelstrom. Remember, he went to Harvard. McAlester, a documentary filmmaker, once turned down a job at the Dallas Observer by telling our staff, "I'm gonna take a grauwyler [poo poo], then make a decision." He emerged from the bathroom, newspaper in hand, screaming, "I'm staying!" As sophomoric as the paper was, it was often quite intelligent, largely because of Harvard and the people he later recruited.

Chad Tomlinson, art director: A helluva designer, he says his favorite memory was partying with cartoonist Lynda Barry during our trip to the Association of Alternative Newsweeklies conference in Nashville. (Recalled fondly because we were the only ones who showed up in bed sheets to an outdoor party; we almost slammed into a member of ZZ Top as we were using stolen luggage carts to have races in the lobby of our hotel; and oh, yeah, because nationally known gay advice columnist Dan Savage shared a moonlit evening by a pond with married columnist Tim Rogers...but I digress.) Tomlinson redesigns big national magazines for a New York firm.

Chris Shull, arts editor: A guy who otherwise wouldn't have gotten a chance, because he was too weird, too high-maintenance, too everything. This current Wichita Eagle arts writer penned my favorite 196 words The Met ever published, because they were so undeniably, out-and-out evil-funny:

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