- Contributing editor Mark Bourrie ponders the good old days, when skilled wordsmiths knew how to massage a good story — and a good scandal.
I was pawing through stuff at the Smith’s Falls flea market Sunday when I came across a copy of the Toronto tabloid Hush. Published in the 1950s and early 1960s, Hush was a scandal sheet in every sense of the word.
It sent reporters to what was then called “Morality Court” to hear the cases of hookers and men charged under the still-on-the-books sodomy charges. And it covered petty scams, happenings at nudist colonies, and gave racetrack odds. There were a few pages of ads for hookers unconvincingly disguised as “lonely hearts” messages.
I read every word of this 1960 paper, marveling at the sorrowful stories offered up by its skilled wordsmiths. No political spin in this stuff, just a lot of tragedy, plenty of seedy sex, some wide-eyed enthusiasm for a nudist colony beauty contest, and stern condemnation of a two-bit crook who fleeced a young woman out of $100.
I miss that kind of news. Here, on the Hill, reporters are grinding out “Whither Quebec” eye-splitters, covering the floor crossing of an NDP MP who might as well have been in the witness protection program, or pontificating on themes like “Stephen Harper, Friend or Fiend?”
Not me. Can’t do it. I am no political Rumpelstiltskin, able to turn stale political straw into punditry gold. Instead, here’s some news you can use around the water cooler or during those embarrassing pauses at dinner: