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Posted: March 31, 2018

April Fools is every day now

Kootenay Crust

By Ian Cobb

Op-Ed Commentary

Back in the day, when we managed to survive without phones outside our houses and work places, there were these things called ‘newspapers.’

Some were printed daily, others weekly. They were made out of newsprint and they served all sorts of useful purposes.

They informed you about what was happening in a given area, what you could buy or do and you could sell stuff in things called ‘classified ads.’

Newspapers had reporters who covered beats and editors who swore at them a lot and swilled vast quantities of alcohol in between bouts of frightening politicians and unnerving ne’er do wells taking advantage of people.

Newspapers were also great for puppy training, bird cage lining, packing dishes, swatting flies, hiding behind while spying on someone, sleeping under and lighting fires.

In these things called newspapers, we editors would plot out some fun once every year, when toiling for daily papers and once every five or six years in weekly papers. (Remember the bit about massive volumes of booze.)

The April Fools Day editions, which would contain ‘fake news’ were great fun, as I was reminded by a former colleague in a Facebook post today.

She recalled a gooder we ran on the front page of the now deceased Valley Echo newspaper in the Columbia Valley.

I published a front page story headline ‘Valley sold to Alberta’ (or something close to it).

The lengthy piece of bull shart went on about how British Columbia was selling the Columbia Valley to Alberta.

Before going to print, I first contacted premiers Glen Clark and Ralph Klein and asked for their permission in quoting them rather heavily. I didn’t have to but thought it a courteous thing to do.

Clark’s French Canadian assistant called me back to say the premier wasn’t interested and he thought it might be funnier if I said B.C. was buying Banff.

I informed him that was just whack job nutty and may have said something like “no wonder this bloody province is swirling the tank” before thanking him for his time.

Clark’s quotes became deranged at that point.

A short time later I answered my phone to hear, “Yeah, Ralph Klein – you called me about a piece you’re doing?”

The long and short: King Ralph loved the idea, thought it was hilarious and gave me his full approval.

His quotes were Shakespearean.

The photo I ran with the piece was a shot of my pal, Dingbat Alien, blasting a ball out of a bunker at Windermere Valley Golf Course. The cutline said something about how he hated B.C. and was relieved his second home would now be nestled in Mother Alberta. “Now maybe we can do something about these mountains; view ruining things,” he harrumphed.

The piece went over as expected; people freaked out.

One fellow from Fairmont Hot Springs sauntered into the (then) Esso for his morning coffee and a fresh Wednesday copy of The Echo. He didn’t look at the paper, just grabbed it and paid for his items.

He dropped the paper on the front seat of his mini van and started driving north to his office in Invermere. He took a sip of his coffee and glanced down at the paper – ‘Valley sold to Alberta’ hit him between the eyes and he started reading. A few seconds later he almost ran head-on into a car going south, as his van drifted while he read.

He popped into my office after he arrived in Invermere to tell me that I nearly killed him. Glad you’re still with us Paul!

We did some other doozies over the years, including a tale about how Invermere council had agreed to buy a bighorn sheep herd from Grasmere out of envy over Radium Hot Springs’ tourism draw. We also did one, with twisted video that went viral before it was taken down by corporate weasels, about the discovery of a cave filled with cannibal sasquatches.

The late, great Ron and Bell Ede, founders of The Echo, once published an April Fools Day piece depicting the announcement of the world’s greatest waterslide, which would swoop down from Mount Swansea to Lake Windermere.

Daily papers did some classics, including ‘scratch and sniff’ jokes.

The only ‘rule’ about April Fools editions was admission of the joke in the piece, usually in the turn.

Which brings me to tomorrow – April Fools Day.

I thought about publishing a piece tomorrow based around the City of Cranbrook ordering CP Rail out of the city, citing its unwillingness to fund an overpass as the reason, and worries about “another Mississauga,” said Mayor Lee Pratt, wearing a CN Rail tie.

Alas, a short scroll through my Facebook feed dissuaded me from partaking in April Fools fun. That and Mayor Pratt who told me to eff off. No, he didn’t; April Fools!

Every day is April 1 now. Fake news is more prevalent than real news as shape-shifting message makers feeding various hatreds and insecurities play their dastardly games to great effect.

Despite the fact most people are constantly staring into tiny boxes that contain much of the combined knowledge of the human experience nowadays, more bullshit is spread than ever before as people share crap without knowing its authenticity or validity.

Memes are today’s books, sadly.

And thanks to the mega-corporatization of media, with boards of directors that view journalists as the enemy to profits, all sorts of skewed garbage catering to the whims of the left or the right is pumped out every hour of every day.

Considering the volume of all that noise, what’s the point in trying to have some fun with a fake story? Yes, it is a clickbait whore’s gold mine but it just seems wrong now.

Ian Cobb is a crusty old ink stained dog but he’s not as crusty as Gerry Warner

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