ODE TO AN OFFICE: PART II

In Editorial /

In the second Ode to an Office, Eyeopener alumni share their experiences at the Eye’s old office in the basement of Jorgenson Hall.

Editor-in-Chief

If the present Eyeopener editor-in-chief is correct, and the Eyeopener’s “rat infested, asbestos-filled” office has been in the same dungeon-like hole for 38 years, then it would have been brand-spanking new in 1967.

Except it wasn’t. Since I was editor-in-chief on the very first day The Eyeopener moved into its (new) Jorgenson Hall digs, try the early ’70s for a more accurate historical perspective. But, what’s three or four years when we’re talking history? When I popped into the Eye’s office a few days ago, I noticed the mural was gone–a motif based on the Beatles’ Yellow Submarine–and then I realized the office was not in its original location in basement.

Nor is there a pub next door. What the hell happened? In your previous edition, former Eyeopener types talked about doped-up days and drunken nights which, back in my day, were also the norm. But it was post-’60s, wasn’t it. Sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll. Vietnam protests. Make love, not war, etc. The good old days of Selectric typewriters and typesetting. And paste-up pages. The office of Ryerson’s president was occupied. Symposiums were held. The American consulate was marched on over A-bomb testing. Classes? What classes? Yet, somehow, I graduated. We eventually went our separate ways and then lost track of each other. As for the years at The Eyeopener, they remain a blur. Sometimes I get flashbacks, though. And they make me smile. – Mark Bonokoski, Toronto Sun

You never knew what bizarre event you’d run into in that dungeon of an office. One day Hollywood quasi-star Jared Leto popped by to do a little research for his role as a student reporter in Urban Legend and ended up playing ball hockey with the staff in the office (we had a net set up in the corner). On a normal day, though, the place acted more like a jail. No light, poor air circulation, hours slipping by hunched over the computer, unhealthy acts going on in the photo dark room. The office should not be rented by anyone else, it should be cordoned off with police tape. – Rob Granatstein, Toronto Sun

It’s The Eyeopener time warp. You’d show up at the windowless bunker of a newspaper office in lower Jorgenson, surface for smokes and coffee from time to time, and all of a sudden, four years would go by and all you’ve done was produce a nice stack of newspapers. Room A54 was our time machine. Room A54 was–rather, is–The Eyeopener personified: small, stuffy, boisterous, arrogant and loud with energy. It neatly captures the history of this vaunted paper, and consumes the energized youths who make it a temporary home. And that’s what it is to countless journalists across this land: our home, our first stomping ground. Sad to see it go. Then again, my memories of that time machine will always help me relive the good, old times. – Kenny Yum, Globe & Mail and Ryerson Instructor

If I let my mind wander beyond that blue-framed door to A54, the years of memories come tumbling fast… eating take-out Salad King perched on a stool at a production-scarred table … too many naps on couches found at curbs … wearing t-shirts mid-winter … people “making contact sheets” in the darkroom … Scoop Gerbil’s incessant scratching … the smell, the stuffy stinky smell … paper piled everywhere, computers crashed, servers downed, printers jammed, and music, always music as the background to this whirlwind of life. But surely it’s the people, the paper, the passion that makes the place, not just what lies beyond the blue-framed door. Congrats on the move – Lori Fazari, Hamilton Spectator

In the summer of 2001 I was a new editor-in-chief and was renovating The Eyeopener office. For decades the masthead (around eight of them) worked out of a tiny back office that now houses two people in cozy comfort. I was taking down a drywall partition that had bisected the former production space to the newsroom as you see it now. As I tore off one side of the drywall I found a record written on the inside of the opposite slab, from The Eyeopener crew who put the wall up in the mid-80s. They were clearly brash young fools; convinced they had ruled their universe. As a minor student of Eye history what freaked me was that I’d never heard of any of these people, the record of an entire generation sealed up in a wall for 15 years. Our student newspaper, like all others, is dominated by short seasons, sometimes entire staff’s change within a year. No objective institutional memory is possible then. Those Morrissey-loving, teased-haired, probably Lacoste-wearing young turks thought their legend would live forever, but instead they just passed on a successful and fully functioning paper to a new breed of giants. The new office won’t have this historical (and often literal) DNA in its walls, so it’s up to the next generations to create it. -Shane Dingman, National Post

For our annual Valentine’s Day edition, we convinced a Ryerson web-cam girl to come into the office and pose naked for the front cover. The shoot took place in the back room, with only a sheet of paper dividing the model and the several male “photo consultants” from the rest of the office. Back then the paper had a reputation for being particularly controversial. The plan was to have the girl straddle a ‘Sex Robot’–a cardboard box with a strap-on dildo attached to it–but before we could say ‘action’ our Roots and Culture editor had disrobed and entered the mix. The moment of zen came when two female editors became suspicious of the grunts and groans and peeked behind the sheet only to find the photographer was now on all fours, a whip tied around his neck, and begging someone to spank him. – Michael Traikos, National Post

What I remember about the office is its total lack of any natural light. Since it was located in a basement, it looked the same inside whether it was noon or 3 a.m. They say that human beings have some innate ability to tell what time it is, but I think that depends pretty heavily on being able to gauge the position of the sun. Put people in a windowless room for long enough, and they lose their grasp on the passage of time. I put up a clock last year, but it only lasted a week. I guess it was probably for the best; if people actually realized how many hours they were spending in those mouse-infested rooms it might have put a dent in productivity. – Don McHoull, Toronto Sun

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