Monday, June 18, 2018

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Because we have been waiting for you for a decade

We Built This [Terminal] City

Terminal City Issue #1, Dec 30, 1992. Layout by Darren Atwater

And now it is gone

Terminal City is officially dead. In most instances death is a horrible thing, and in some cases death is tragic, but in the case of Terminal City, it’s a relief. The deterioration of the weekly that many of us had worked so hard on for so many years was sad and painful to watch. What once was an often despised, sometimes venerated and always-reckless media stalwart, ended its life as a watered down mockery of the journalism it had set out to destroy in the first place. It may be hard to remember, but TC wasn’t always this shoddy. In fact, the paper that many are eulogizing now has only been around for just over a year. Terminal City itself has a history that goes back well over a decade, and just as one would do at the funeral of any former friend, we’ve decided to highlight some of those high points, and joke about the bad.

Terminal City was created by Darren Atwater thirteen years ago because he was bored of the formulaic principles behind most newspapers. He was also adamant to prove that you could just as easily lose money in the publishing industry as make it. Originally, TC was staffed by Josephine Ochej and a former Greenpeace campaigner named Brian Salmi. Atwater also persuaded an obscure advice columnist from a small Seattle weekly to contribute Savage Love to the paper and a guy named Tony Millionaire in Brooklyn to contribute a comic.

Under this team the paper unleashed ideas like the now infamous Brian Salmi revelation: “It costs nothing to run for office — let’s get 1,000 people to run for mayor.” After marshalling the entire resources of Terminal City, fifty-eight people eventually ran for mayor and, by the reaction of the city and the city’s media, you would have thought Terminal City was handing out free crack.

TC was investigated by the Vancouver Police for instigating the 1994 Stanley Cup riots, though the police decided against prosecution for fear it would give Salmi a public forum, allowing him to influence a wider audience. In 2002 Atwater and Salmi stormed the legislature in Victoria and were arrested for criminal trespass. Fortunately, the paper was set up with a bail fund. But its impact was farther-reaching than pranks. Tom Flannagan’s series on APEC and the subsequent attack by the RCMP on protesters at UBC kicked off the worldwide public resistance against globalisation. During later coverage of the Gustofsen Lake trial, the CBC used Terminal City reporter Ben Mahoney extensively because he was the only journalist to cover the trial. The Globe & Mail declared Terminal City as the “Only alternative weekly that mattered.”

Then Terminal City folded. Unfortunately you can’t keep a keep a sickness like this at bay very long, and in 2001, Atwater’s brother Graeme had the idea to start up?? Terminal City Weekly.?? This version, under the initial editorship of Jen Cressey, helped end George Puil’s career by blaming him and only him, in a Salmi piece, for the bitter bus strike which lasted four months. The editors of what is now Only started drifting in: Amil Niazi first, then John Cow, Alan Hindle, Sarah Albertson, Sean Condon, Rhek, Sarah Cordingley, Ben Lai and it was a new Gilded Age. Page size went up, an investor appeared and, in an entirely unprecedented move, staffers were paid. But the good life didn’t last long.

In a Gordon Gecko move by management to gain editorial control of the newly growing monster, Atwater was fired. The entire staff — less six — refused to work under the awkward new management, walked on the spot, and started getting drunk. Three days later you got Only. And you’re reading it now.

And now Terminal City is dead, again, but this time it’s Terminal City??’s last stop. It would be easy here to say something really biting, like how ??Terminal City slowly began to eat itself, hiring and firing editors and writers, leaving everyone wondering where it was going – but we don’t need to say that kind of stuff. They’ve got no way to defend themselves… And we’ve been reading their e-mails, and they’re sad.

  1. Gölök Zoltán Leenderdt Franco Buday

    I am one to agree, looks like by firing the founder they fired themself and selves as well.
    They may have did something good in the end in regards to independent Candidates but as I was ready to put my ad(s) up I discovered why (this must have been happening long before the announcement) they did this as a last ditch effort to attract interest, in fact it was a kamakazi move. They were soddered into the plane and ready to die trying to last.

    Well, Darren Atwater, looks like a wrongful dismissal suit would be getting blood out of a rock.

    There is, at last, universal justice here and there.

    Gölök Zoltán Leenderdt Franco Buday
    “Freedom is the right to be wrong, not the right to do wrong.”
    – Prime Minister Diefenbaker, March 11, 1958 - Nov 21, 02:15 PM

  2. salmi

    In 2002 Atwater and Salmi stormed the legislature in Victoria?

    hahahahaha - Dec 3, 01:50 PM

  3. Gölök Zoltán Leenderdt Franco Buday

    A Salmi, the trojan horse; Ian King asked me if I went for 1996 free beer thing; hah, man would that have lead to Salmi’s jail time of giving this 1996 Mayoral Candidate and Voter Beer; although it was inappropriate to offer free beer in return for running, I didn’t see this with council candidates and so on; plus it’s not like Salmi and so use the same sort of funds or fund raising to pay for Candidate nomination fees; no this was so you could bring out more fiscal, social, and party elitism into the electoral system. The $100 Filing fee is a conspyrasy between Salmi and the Government.

    Gölök Zoltán Leenderdt Franco Buday
    “Delusion has been defined by some as a strongly held belief not held in popular thought, so essentially we have pollsters and pop-culture
    marketeers deciding what is delusional and what is clear thinking, not [even] psychiatrists.”—Black Jester, aka Gölök Z. L. F. Buday. - Dec 9, 01:49 PM

  4. mark

    sorry, but the appearance of john cow, amil niazi, sean condon, rhek, etc did not usher in a new gilded age at terminal city. the paper did not suddenly suck after the new publisher fired atwater. it had sucked for quite awhile before that and mainly due to the fact that the previously mentioned writers had nothing interesting or even worse yet, funny, to say. reading john cow’s poo jokes was, well, just sad. reading TC in those final days was like meeting your high school sweet heart ten years later only to discover that she had put on 50 lbs and grown a mustache.

    - Sep 10, 05:00 AM

  5. John Morton

    Hhhmmmmm… well, I remember when Terminal City started up – good paper. I was photo editor and environmental columnist for an East Van paper called “NOISE” (Gordon Murray, editor) back then; and knew Brian Salmi through a mutual friend (Fagan) from Greenpeace.

    I happened upon this website/publication while browsing via Google for Salmi references (easier than scanning electoral results for a S. A. Tan – or Ronald F*^king MacDonald) – just for fun – didn’t find any more recent Salmi references; but thought I’d say “Hi” here (although I am living once again in Ontario) anyway.

    And me? Well, I did finally manage to put this together…

    Best Wishes to all my BestCoast friends;

    John Morton.

    - Dec 18, 06:47 AM

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