May 27, 2018

For the Record—OMG! Oh, No! Of All People!


Al Martinez is back and we were all so ecstatic when we read his returning column (see “Al Martinez…On Everything Else…”, Topanga Messenger, Vol. 38, No. 15, July 31, 2014) that our brains must have gone on holiday when we proofread it.

“What did you do to my column,” he wailed over my home phone, after leaving three unanswered messages at the office. “That wasn’t a headline. That was my slug!” For you who don’t know newspaper jargon, a slug identifies the publication, the section and the topic. There it was, in big, bold letters at the top of the page: “MESS (for Messenger) -COL (for Column) -ERNIE (for Ernie, the cat, the topic).” We mistook it for a mysterious headline, “Messcolernie,” even though it made no sense once you read the column.

Only our copy editor, Pam Leeds, questioned it, but as the editor, I have a hands-off policy out of respect for the author’s voice and totally intimidated her questioning with a shrug of my shoulders.

We should have checked in with you, Al. While we can’t correct it in the print edition unless we burn the whole lot, it has disappeared online. Please accept our sincere apologies for being so dense, as well as our deepest condolences for your loss of Ernie, who, I am sure, has just gone visiting.

What’s black and white and red all over? It’s that not-so-rosy glow emanating from the embarrassed staff at the Messenger office.

—Flavia Potenza, Editor