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Back in the late 1980s, I worked as editorial assistant for the Boston Phoenix weekly newspaper (which you already knew from my farewell to the Phoenix blog post of some years back). The writers during my 9-month reign as mail-sorter, phone-answerer, and photo file-retriever included Mark Jurkowitz, who now publishes The Outer Banks Sentinel in Nags Head, NC, Ric Kahn, the grizzled street reporter who later worked for the Boston Globe’s City Weekly section before it was given the ax, and Scot Lehigh, who has been a Globe op-ed columnist since sometime in the 1990s. (Not to mention John Medearis and Frank Connolly.)
I hadn’t been working for more than a couple of days at the Phoenix when a call came in on the editor’s phone, which I answered. “Give me Richard,” said the voice on the other line. “It’s Shoe.”
Sure it is. And I’m Perfessor Cosmo Fishhawk. I might have been a naïve 22-year old fresh out of college, but I already had to deal with myriad calls from crazies who were trying to get a few words in with the editor, and it was my job to keep them away. I wasn’t going to fall for a crank-caller claiming the same name as the cigar-smoking editor of The Treetops Tattler-Tribune, the fictional newspaper in the comic strip “Shoe.”
I asked again who was calling in case I had misheard, and this time got yelled at. “Just tell Richard it’s Shoe!” What to do? I didn’t want to seem totally gullible, but the guy did sound like he knew our editor. I informed “Shoe” that Richard was on another line, and he said that he’d hold. Richard Gaines, our editor, could see that he had a call waiting, so he asked me who it was. In my little 22-year old voice I said, “Um, Shoe?”
He took the call immediately. Soon thereafter, I discovered that I had been speaking to Jim Schuh, the beat reporter who covered crime for the Phoenix.
Homophones: sometimes they're more trouble than they're worth.