ALCOHOL WAS A FACTOR: Weekly Newspapering n Rural Alaska

John Michael Glionna
6 min readJan 12, 2019

Welcome to the Newsroom Truth Board

There’s a line about finding a good reporter here in Alaska:

That the odds are good but the goods are odd — especially here in Haines.
In the 50 years the paper has been published, there have been all kinds of fine journalists and some perfect screwballs who have moored their ships here.

Most, probably all, were indeed odd. (And I proudly count myself as one of them.)

For example, the Feltist worked here for a while as a columnist. Owner Tom Morphet is crazy as a white-haired loon.

And when crazy people congregate, they say crazy things.

And then they laugh and someone inevitably says, “Fuck, somebody should write that down.”

And then somebody inevitably does.

In the newsroom of the Chilkat Valley News in Haines, those sayings have been collected on a wall over the coffeemaker.

The Feltist calls the thing The Truth Board.

By the looks of this motley collection of cast-off comments, they’ve been collected for years and years. Some of the Post-it notes ae tattered and curling from age. There are so many that they have spilled over to an adjoining wall.

Imagine, a room full of eccentrics; the set of Seinfeld. The Mary Tyler Moore show.

What happens is that people say some funny shit.

The first Truth Board posting I saw was from Pizza Joe himself.

It was old, probably from the time years ago when he wrote a column and spent the most time here. It read: “The human race is the bad apple. There are cool individuals but collectively we’re losers.”

And there’s another that has the Feltist’s scribbly handwriting.

“The reason we are disappointed,” it says, “is because we believed the lies they told us as kids.”

Here are some others, in no given order, probably like the way they got spewed out.

And what is the most funny is that Tom Morphet can remember the time, place and contest of every one of them.

“That’s when people get their nuts bonked; when they’re fucking around.”

“Haines does not have a redemption policy.”

“Humanoids in Haines have learned to walk.”

“Everyone needs to be tortured and killed.”

“I don’t have enough time left in my life to deal with people who don’t get it.”

“Sometimes I like to clean out my friends list.”

“We can’t solve all of the world’s problems but we can go to the next party.”

“Dave belongs here with us. He’s one of the freaks in our show.”

“It doesn’t matter what you think.”

“It doesn’t matter if it’s a girl or a boy, because by the time they’re 18 they might want to change anyway.”

“Chicks can smell security and he reeks of it.”

“She’s a shiny car with a fast engine.”

“It’s a one-night stand that has gone on for eight years.”

“Good reporters are a pain in the ass. That’s why they’re good reporters.”

“You have as much right to the principal of verticality as the other person does.”

“Figures can lie and liars can figure.”

“Reason doesn’t stand a chance.”

“Don’t be sorry; be normal.”

“The world is a big opportunity; it’s all a matter of how you squander it.”

You want more? I got millions of ‘em.

“Hate is more interesting than love.”

“Anybody who’s an idealist and doing well has someone enabling them.”

“We have to amplify the feedback loop.”

“I hate this town. I hope everybody dies of cancer.”

“I don’t like to talk to people very often.”

“There are only so many things a guy friend is good for.”

“The goal of being intelligent has been replaced by the 50-inch plasma.”

“This town has more problems than just being a cool place.”

“I’m not negative, I’m just observant.”

“I’ve got fertile eggs.”

“Maybe he is just a bad pronouncer.”

“Too many people are having second servings instead of sex.”

“There’s like no normal intelligent people except for me. I mean, really intelligent.”

“She lives inside; she can’t have too many diseases unless she’s caught them from us.”

“Do you know what the problem is? I’m too tired to answer my own question.”

“The world would be a better place for me if everyone thought about me as much as I do.”

“People have been pooping since Biblical times.”

“You don’t realize that in the big-person world people, especially those with power, are stupid and dictatorial.”

“Ideas don’t work unless you do.”

“I set an arbitrary deadline.”

“You young people just want to kiss each other all over.”

“There’s a certain tolerance for sleaze balls in this town but he’s exceeded even that.”

“A; I don’t drink and B; I don’t mingle.”

“Sex is a loss leader for women. Once they get you to marry them, all the specials are off.”

“I think I’m becoming a worse person.”

“There’s always time for a nap or a beer somewhere. Otherwise, you’re making a serious mistake.”

“Soul-baring is nothing but trouble, man. Just keep it to yourself.”

“People fear the unknown and that’s a shame. There are a lot of worthwhile things in the unknown.”

“It’s like roulette. If you say enough BS once in a while the ball will go in the truth hole.”

“I hate serial killers. I really don’t like them at all.”

“I’ve done enough self-examination. I’m trying to get out of that shit.”

“Sometimes success comes from just not making mistakes; sometimes mediocrity.”

“There isn’t a species in this planet that needs sexual training.”

“Zumba is kind of dangerous.”

“It’s easy to be incredible when you don’t have a job.”

“Language is fluid, man.”

“I can’t be bothered by pretty women.”

“It isn’t funny. It isn’t astute. It’s just the dumb ravings of a lunatic.”

“I don’t see why Deborah can’t be manager. She owns a trailer court. That’s all this town is — a trailer court with a couple gun stores and carry outs.”

“We are paying the price of generations of lousy social studies teachers.”

“Janet I thought we might give a $1,000 scholarship to the senior most likely to end up living in one of our mini storage units.”

“As long as we can foist our responsibility for our problems on others, we’ll be alright.”

“The difference between genius and stupidity is that stupidity has limits.”

“I’m tired of rising to the occasion. I’ve risen to the occasion my whole damn life.”

“That’s one thing I learned from George Bush. You don’t have to make sacrifices.”

“The problem is, they’re not as smart as me.”

“Jo Jo isn’t the name of a dog. It’s a piece of potato.”

“We specialize in contacting people.”

“As individuals we can be pretty cool, but as a whole the human race is one bad apple.”

“Canada is like the attic. It’s where all the cool stuff is.”

“We can’t all be Canadiens.”

“I am socially awkward. What that means is, when I first meet someone, the first thing I say is that I’m socially awkward.”