Tuesday, September 30, 2003

Eggy Eckler

Eckler recently (September 24) got hoaxed by Jesse Brown -- posing as Stuart Neihardt -- a fellow wanting to start a magazine for the average guy:

The target audience for Stu are men aged 18 to 55, with a personal income of $18,000 to $40,000 or a household income of no more than $55,000. "The Stu reader," says the release, "knows he'll never date a model or have rock-hard abs, and he's OK with that."

The first issue (with the super-low cover price of $1.89) features stories such as "No-Maintenance: The Stu's guide to dating the hot girl's less-hot friend," a feature on "High-pleasure positions that let you gratify her without breaking a sweat," an interview with Wayne Knight, Seinfeld's Newman, and a feature on how to get your dream wheels for under $600

Double trouble alert: Colby Cosh, writing one day previously, in the September 23 Post, also got taken in by Stu.

Most journalists have been tricked (myself included). It happens. What I would like to point out however, is that Brown has hoaxed before – he has a column in Saturday Night, replete with photo, detailing his antics. Now obviously Eckler doesn’t read Saturday Night (which is inserted free inside the Post six times a year) but someone proofing the National Post should be. The Post sent a photographer to Montreal to clicksnap Stu Neihardt, nee Jesse Brown, and surely one of the folks involved in overseeing the article should have recognized him.

That or nobody at the Post likes Eckler, and decided to let her wear some egg. McLaren was close to being fooled too, but -- tragically -- was tipped off by Eckler, according to Antonia Zerbisias in the September 26 Toronto Star:

Neihardt/Brown almost got CBC Radio's As It Happens and The Globe and Mail's Leah McLaren, who had planned to meet up with Brown/Neihardt next week in ordinary guyville, Scarborough.

As It Happens figured it out after pre-taping an interview yesterday with "Neihardt" when producer Mark Ulster made phone checks to one of the advertisers and the printing company that Stu was supposedly dealing with.

As for McLaren, she got saved by me, at least indirectly.

(Believe me, this would have been a much better column if she too got conned. Brown practically begged me to hold off on writing this so he could reel her in, calling her "the great white whale.")

But, because I called Eckler for comment yesterday — "Oh my God no! You gotta be joking! Whatta weirdo! Whatta freak!" — and she's close pals with McLaren, she phoned her and tipped her off

The funny, kinetic Brown, by the way, is the best thing in the moribund Saturday Night, a publication that most people think is still dead. I was at Word on the Street two days ago and was relieved beyond belief to see that the magazine will be redesigned as of next issue, since it’s currently an uninspired visual jumble. I know every issue of SN contains good journalism, but the layout makes it exceedingly difficult for me to leap into an article and start reading.

A redesign? What’s that lapping and slapping at your heels SN? I believe it’s the slow, methodical but deadly sound of the Walrus.