Monday, 25 June 2007

This Day In LWOT History...

June 27, 1981

An interview with Gradey Alexander appears in Moncton's daily newspaper, Times & Transcript, in which the controversial writer unleashes a torrent of abuse towards the city he briefly called home.

Though not a native New Brunswicker, Alexander spent his tenure as LWOT's Managing Editor living in Moncton, and at the time was one of the city's most prominent figures. During an interview with the local paper - part of a series focusing on the city's literary community - he was asked to share his thoughts about the city and surrounding area. Alexander replied with the malevolent frankness for which he has become known. He spared few, even daring to sound off on legendary critic Northrop Frye, whom he referred to as "a literary beanpole, lacking the courtesy to die before his works could taint his reputation."

Alexander's strongest words, however, were reserved for the city itself. His oft-repeated slurs have become the stuff of legend.

Regarding the NBTel Tower: "...a lumbering phallus that can be seen swaying in the breeze on windy days, as though the city had unzipped its collective jeans in an attempt to emasculate its lesser neighbours."

The Gunningsville Bridge: "...a wonder of 20th-Century engineering, if you think drunken louts playing in the mud and suffering from the bends is wonderful."

Magnetic Hill: "...a snake-oil sideshow frequented by rubes."

Alexander also repeatedly referred to the city's natural wonder, the tidal bore, as the "Total Bore", mocking the tourists who flocked each year to the Petitcodiac River's muddy banks in hopes of seeing the river's unspecatuclar reversal (although vilified by the local media, the term "Total Bore" quickly caught on with city residents, and is currently being used in New Brunswick Tourism's ongoing "We Ain't So Bad!" campaign).

Alexander later complained that much of what he said during the interview was misinterpreted, blaming everyone - from the Irving family to then Premier Richard Hatfield - for the incendiary version that made it to print. Years later, a Moncton tavern called Scrooge's hosted an extremely popular "Gradey Alexander Unappreciation Day". It became a successful annual event until the bar closed to make way for the construction of a new city hall.

Since leaving Moncton at the end of his tenure with LWOT, Alexander has never returned.

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