I moved to New York on July 7th of 1993 with one goal in mind and that was to get my writing published in that city. I had been told by an editor at the Peoria Journal Star that, “you just don’t walk in off the street and write for the Peoria Journal Star” in 1989 and that lit a fire in me to show her that you can walk in off the street and write for other publications. Even in New York where that editor would’ve been chewed up and spit out in a New York minute.
After I was shunned by the PJS, I went and started my own magazine called, People of Peoria and later the title was shortened to POP magazine and it quickly became a best selling magazine here in Peoria. That led to me writing for the Pekin Daily Times and ultimately that led me to moving to New York to pursue a writing career in the Big Apple.
I never did get a staff job out there, but I am proud to say I walked in off the street and wrote for a slew of newspapers and magazines while living there including, The New York Daily News, New York Newsday, NY Post, New York Press, Gadfly magazine, Nerve magazine, Manhattan Spirit, NY Weekly and Time Out New York magazine among others. After a few years of freelancing, I kind of hung it up as the novelty of seeing my byline in New York diminished and I was working nights at a Graphics pre-press service bureau and publishing another magazine, fishwrap, that ridiculed the whole world of mainstream magazines and newspapers.
My very last freelance article I wrote in New York was in December of 2007. My friend Chris Erikson, who had been my editor at the weekly paper, Manhattan Spirit was and still is an editor at the NY Post and he called and said they were looking for someone to go out and be a real life, “Bad Santa” in Manhattan and write a feature article about the experience and he thought I'd be perfect for the assignment. Well, I couldn’t pass that opportunity up and accepted the offer.
It turned out to be a total blast. I worked with a photographer, Liz Sullivan who was a joy to work with. She’s totally fearless and badass and we had a blast running around in Manhattan and causing trouble in my Bad Santa persona. It was easy to write, but the experience did leave one bad taste in my mouth, they changed my lead line.
I was told to write it from the point of view of someone who hates Christmas, but is going to try to go out and enjoy it in spite of himself. So my lead line was: “When it comes to Christmas, I’m ho-ho-hopeless.” Okay, it’s not Billy Shakespeare, but hey, I thought it was pretty good. The line was changed to: “I ho-ho-hate Christmas,” by some dim-witted copy editor. Oh well, that’s life in the freelance world and that’s why I pretty much stopped pursuing it. I’d rather publish my own work and have complete creative control over it.
Here’s the article as it appeared in the NY Post on December 20th, 2007.
After the article was published, photographer Liz gave me a disc with some of the unpublished photos from the day that my favorite freelance article was born and here’s some of them below. I thought it would make for a fun pre-Christmas post. Enjoy and have a great Christmas Eve!
Subway Santa doesn't need no stinking MetroCard!
Ho, ho, ho! Mary Crimble!
Keying, "I heart Rudolph" in the subway window.
Talking with people and seeing if they were good little boys and girls all year.
A beer to start the story off at Langan’s Bar, the unofficial NY Post watering hole.
On the escalator at Victoria's Secret before they called the cops on us.
The hostess at the Lace strip club. She was thrilled that she was going to be in the NY Post and told me to come back with the paper when it was published and we'd party at the strip club. Then the NY Post didn't publish this photo. Thanks, NY Post!
And here we are at Hooters. Walking away from the table I remember saying to the waitress, "Those guys seem like real lunkheads." And she shot back, "Complete and total lunkheads!" Welcome to Hooters!
Doing a little two-step with the entire Hooters staff.
This was our last stop, the Off Track Betting Parlor. They weren't too thrilled with us in there.
Shortly after this photo was taken we were met with a chorus of, "Fuck you, Santa, get out of here!" A bunch of Grinches in there, I tell you!
Meanwhile, back at Langan's Bar...
And to all a good night! Happy holidays and we’ll see you all tomorrow.
Related posts: Hello It’s Me..., Fishwrap Photo Phun and Chris Erikson CD Release Party At Lakeside Lounge (TWM)
Bad Santa Art From Jaws the Cabbie!
Jaws the Cabbie sent in this piece of Bad Santa art for today’s post. Ho, ho, ho! Thanks Jaws, Merry Christmas!