The Jerome Times was a news magazine published for a short period during the early 1980’s in Jerome. A coffee table book of the complete issues is planned for the near future. What follows will be the introduction to the book. Read on.
The Complete Set
Compiled and edited by
© 2010 Jerome Times
All Right Reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced, in any form or by any means, without permission in writing from the publisher.
Published and distributed by –
Jerome Times Publishing
Jerome, AZ 86331
I had just returned from the bank with $10,000 worth of quarters in canvas sacks and thrown those quarters all over the floor around the feet of twenty teenagers just out of Compton, when someone said I had a phone call. I was in the middle of helping some friends make a video for George Clinton’s new tune, “Atomic Dog”. For some reason I can no longer remember, we had made the set into someone’s version of Video Arcade Hades. It was all set up inside a group of editing bays at an old studio in Gower Gulch. I was the oddjobber on the set, building fake video games out of plywood to strap to scissor lifts so that game “addicts” could descend into hell. I was also colorizing line drawings created by Clinton’s people to use for animated sequences in the video. This was back in the early eighties when the rock video was in its experimental heyday. The group I was working with, Homer and Associates, run by Peter and Coco Cohen, went on to create such classics as Dire Straits “Money For Nothing”.
At the time, I was going back and forth between L.A. and Jerome just trying to make ends meet. On the other end of the phone was Fife. That’s Gary Fife. We had become friends when he moved to Jerome in the early eighties. It didn’t dawn on me until much later that he was probably running from some trouble down in Phoenix. In those days, Jerome was still a haven for folks who needed to get under the radar. Fife was the classic – is hustler too strong of a term? Tall, blonde, and handsome with a used car dealer’s trust-me-sunshine smile. He was your friend and don’t forget it. He also knew how to party like one of the big dogs. We had a lot of fun. A lot of fun. You’ll see his picture on the second page of every issue as the weatherman.
He said that he was going to publish Jerome’s first newspaper in forty years and that he wanted me to come back and be the Editor. He claimed to have all the pieces and people in place and that we could start on the first issue as soon as I got back. I was immediately intrigued. It sounded like a fun project. However, I had gotten to know Gary pretty well by that time. He could sell bullshit to a Senator. I told him that I would do it under one condition and that was that since he was the Publisher he would have to come up with the capital to make it all work. I told him at least a half of a dozen times. I spelled out the word money and gave him a dictionary definition of the word publisher. He agreed. He would have signed a contract on a napkin, but since we were talking on the phone, he gave me his long distance promise. At that point Peter came in the editing room and gave me a bump. It was about three in the morning. Everything suddenly seemed in order. My thinking was clear. I told Fife we could get started as soon as I finished up the video.
When I got back to Jerome everything did seem in place. Fife had rented offices right on Main Street across from the Flatiron building. The staff was made up of folks who really knew their stuff. Gary was the publisher and commercial artist (specializing in air brush work, as you will see on the covers). His hot stripper girlfriend, PJ, was the head of advertising sales. I knew she wouldn’t have any trouble getting male business owners to buy ads. Kate Roberge was a paste-up/layout person and proofreader par excellence. Jim Lockway, whose nom de plum was “Aunt Jim”, was the resident cartoonist and loose cannon. He had already been published with a well-known strip in the LA Free Press entitled “Max The Cat”. Donald Joseph was the associate editor. An excellent writer in his own right, Joseph had a few years in the newspaper business himself. Also in place were photographers, writers, and general friends and helpers eager to see the publication hit the streets. Unbelievably for such a small town, Fife had actually been able to corral both a typesetter and a printer, both had offices across the street in the Hotel Jerome. You can peruse page two of any issue for the fuller credits.
We immediately got to work. The first issue served as a template for what followed. I wanted the paper/magazine to not only inform the citizens of Jerome on the current issues facing the town, but to showcase the town’s writers and artists for the tourist trade that was starting to grow at the time. As far as the news went, I wanted to cover Town Hall, the Police and Fire Departments, Public Works, etc. like any normal newspaper. However, Jerome was unique and had elements unlike most towns in the area. For instance, the town had been almost abandoned for years in the fifties and many homes and buildings had suffered greatly. During this period there was much restoration, rebuilding, and renovation taking place, and I wanted to document those activities. Also, unique to Jerome was its fascinating history. From mining camp to roaring boom town to ghost town, stories of miners, gamblers, politicians, prostitutes, lawmen, opium addicts, businessmen, outlaws, etc. all begged to be told and not allowed to disappear into the mists of time. I also wanted the paper to be a reflection of the community that included all age groups, so we dedicated a page solely for submissions from the kids in town.
Now, all this was happening in the olden days, B.C. (Before Computers). Magazines such as the Times were hand-made to a great extent. First you would have to edit and proofread all the written copy from various writers. Now, as I said this was long ago and the copy came in from beat up Royal typewriters if you were lucky. Much of it was handwritten. Deciphering the different scrawls was an art all in itself. You would then send the copy to the typesetter. The typesetter would provide you with strips of text in whatever width of columns you wanted to use. You would then take those strips, along with ads, cartoons, and filler graphics and paste them all onto the poster board in the shape of the page you finally wanted. (Ours was a two page spread, 11”x17”.) The board was then taken down to a shop where they took a negative the actual size of the pages. You then took the negative back to the office and corrected (by hand and a small ink brush) all the imperfections on the negative. The process was called “opaqueing the stats”. When you had cleaned up the stats, you took them back to the shop where they were etched upon thin flexible metal plates. Those plates were perforated on both edges so that you could wrap them around the drum on a press, ink them up, and start rolling out copy. Of course, you would then have to take all the printed pages, flip them over, and print on the opposite sides. At this point, you were almost done. The final step was to hand collate and fold every issue. There was a certain satisfaction (that is missing these days) when you finally put an issue to bed, because, back then, you had actually hand-crafted much of the final product. There was a certain tactile tenderness involved as you babied the pages from poster board to press. Excuse me for a minute while I get all misty and nostalgic . . .
By the second issue, we had our first air brushed cover, the classic Jerome Marina, and the template was complete. We had most everything in place – the news, ads, classifieds, fiction, humor, calendar of events, weather, columns, and history. At this point, flush with the initial enthusiasm and success of getting two issues on the street and on deadline, the entire crew was working together well and excited about making the project an ongoing concern. With our offices right on Main Street, the public had easy access to us, which we promoted. The flow of communication between our staff and local residents was free and open and made for a strong sense that our publication was truly serving the community.
It was Jerome. And we were a bunch of freaks. Gary and Aunt Jim partied hard – all the time. They liked alcohol, weed, pills, shrooms – I should stop there. Our writers, photographers, and other cartoonists were not the most dependable, professional people in the industry. Most were stoners. At that time, there was a group of growers in town who were producing some of the best bud in the state from their patches up on the slopes of Mingus Mountain, and most of our staff were devotees. Kate was the only straight arrow in the quiver. At any rate, things didn’t always go as smoothly as they might have.
As the deadline for the third issue heaved into view, I found out that somehow, someway, Gary and/or Aunt Jim had alienated our printer, Dawn. She was refusing to print the next issue. I never did find out what happened. My guess is that she wasn’t getting paid. The idea that we wouldn’t meet our deadline was not an option. So, somehow we got access to Dawn’s offices and her drum printer and took on the job ourselves. Since it was the night of the morning’s deadline, we knew that we would probably be up until daylight. We had a full bottle of Jack Daniels and some weed, but we knew that we would something more stimulating, so we sent Aunt Jim off into the night to find us some speed – some blow – some pills – anything to get us through till morning.
Aunt Jim left, and we started printing the issue page by page. The Jack was passed around along with the hooters, and time slipped by. Hours passed before Jim showed up and, by that time, we were starting to fade and get a little sloppy. He apologized for both taking so long and the fact that he hadn’t been able to find any go powder. He said that the only thing he was able to get was some acid. So, there we were, smashed on whiskey and weed with only half the run done. Well, the public must be served, so we sucked it up and dropped the blotter. I can’t remember much of the rest of the night, except for the sight of the drum press rolling round and round and round and round . . . But, we did manage to get the issue on the streets by the morning. It’s the reason that the cover, the infamous UFO landing in the open pit, was not as crisp and focused as it might have been. Somehow, however, it seemed appropriate to the occasion. With this particular group of wingnuts it was always something. To tell the whole story blow by blow would be a book in itself. Or, better yet, a screwball comedy where in Preston Sturges meets the Three Stooges. But, when all was said and done -
We were on a roll.
Jerome, at the time, was a wide-open town. The economy was like a three-legged stool. On one hand there was the burgeoning tourist trade. Rundown buildings on Main Street were being restored and remodeled. Shops and restaurants were opened. In 1983 there were as many bars and restaurants as there are on the date of this writing. There was even a wild Disco and Bar at the present site of Town Hall. The disco was a multi-level affair. The higher the level, the higher the people. The higher the level, the higher the hormones. I remember one night when . . . No, that would take too long. Suffice to say, Jerome was well known as a party town.
The second leg was the export economy. By that I mean the production of product. For example, there was a company down in the A building of the High School complex that manufactured small digital mercury detectors. These detectors allowed for the detection of mercury levels in the air, soil, water, or blood. The company was called the Jerome Instrument Company and they were selling these detectors to the government of Japan to detect mercury levels in their fish. They sold them to NASA to detect mercury levels coming off the Shuttle engines. It was a global concern. I saw them as an example of the direction in which the town should move. They were a clean industry that hired nothing but locals and kept the money in town.
The third leg of the stool was the group of weed growers. The mountain above the town had numerous springs that the growers were able to tap into. The conditions during the summer months were ideal for producing what came to be known as “Mingus Green”, a very potent, stinky bud.
The amount of money generated by this illegal industry was large enough to be considered, at least by me, as one of the largest generators of annual revenue.
Another reason for Jerome’s wide open attitude was that in 1980 the freaks had taken over City Hall. Young folks who had re-colonized the town in the late sixties and early seventies had grown a little older, settled down a bit, bought homes, and started families and businesses. The older generation was basically much older and ready to pass on the torch. And so it was, that the Town Council looked like a love-in. The mayor, Richard Martin, was a large bear of a man with long hair and a bushy beard. He looked every bit of what most people would think of as a “hippie”. Truth be told, however, it was under his administration that the infrastructure and town services were dramatically improved and brought up to date.
In this atmosphere, The Jerome Times blossomed. Every two weeks we came out with a brand new issue. We never missed a deadline. I loved my job and found myself putting in long hours to meet our deadlines. The beauty of it was that it never seemed like work.
There was a catch. The problem was that at twenty-five cents an issue and with Gary and Aunt Jim dipping into the till to support their good-time life styles, we were not making enough money to pay everyone’s rent or mortgage or utility bills or car payments or - well, you get the idea. I realized that if we were going to continue we were going to have to expand our circulation and increase our ad revenue. I saw the potential of developing the Times as an offbeat, almost cult-like publication that could attract interest nationally as both a literary/humor magazine and chronicler of one of America’s most interesting and historic wild west towns.
I realized that to achieve this goal we would initially have to go statewide. Fortunately, we had great connections to the media and entertainment industry down in Phoenix, which was just ninety miles to the south. Gary knew people in radio and publishing, and we immediately started to connect with them. Many of Gary’s friends immediately fell in love with the paper and wanted to start working together. The next thing I knew we were co-sponsoring events in Phoenix with KSTM, the hottest rock station, and Evening Star Productions, the hottest concert company.
My strategy for the company was to cross over into other media. I wanted us to be a presence on both radio and television. My belief was that our presence on these media would cross-pollinate the brand. Fortuitously, a country music fm station in the Verde Valley had just gone rock and roll. I knew that, being new, they would be trying to find their demographic and establish their identity. I convinced Gary, Aunt Jim, and another screwball friend of ours, John Bryson that we could create a radio show that was a combination of comedy and new rock music and sell it to this new station. They all bought into the idea, so we created an hour-long demo called “Brainstorm, The Jerome Times Radio Hour”. It was a combination of Firesign Theater meets New Wave music. On our first show, for instance, we had a scavenger hunt. The first person into the radio station with the items described won tickets to a Gallagher concert in Phoenix with hotel room and limousine. The items were a Barbie doll with or without legs, a rock named Dave (with birth certificate), and a pair of used hemostats. We went on to do shows for KSTM in Phoenix, and to run television commercials in both Phoenix and Flagstaff during a show called “Friday Night Videos”.
During this period, we were trying to obtain statewide distribution. I researched stores such as Safeway, Thrifty’s, Walgreen’s, and Fry’s to see who stocked their magazine racks. When I discovered that it was just one company, I went to their offices with previous issues of the Times, but they rejected it flat out.The legend was that they were run by the Mafia, so I didn’t press the issue. By this time, we had already acquired a new printer in Phoenix and I had bought a upc code from the Feds. We were going to print our first glossy cover. It would be saddle stitched instead of hand collated. It would have the necessary bi-pad number for the store scanners. It would be chain-store ready.
For a minute and a half, we were stymied. We needed statewide distribution. It was a must. After some brainstorming , we cooked up an end-run strategy. I got us a meeting with the head of Circle K for the state of Arizona. We went down and personally met with him at his office in Phoenix. I showed him the previous issues and gave him the whole dog and pony show. He loved it. Within days he had sent out a letter to all the branches in the state ordering them to carry our publication.
We were State Wide.
At this point we were down to a core staff consisting of myself, Gary, Jim, and Kate. Various writers, cartoonists, and other contributors were still very actively involved, but it was the four of us who were carrying the load. It was getting manic. Our revenue was still not even getting close to paying everyone’s bills. The whole operation was flying on a wing and a prayer. I had told Gary over and over that the only way we were going to survive was to find an investor or float a loan to carry us through to the next stage. I reminded him of our agreement that I would put the magazine together and he would come up with the cash. It was getting time for him to step up and be a real publisher.
I was in the process of putting together the next issue. I had acquired a lengthy article put together by students over at the Prescott Experimental College. It was a deeply researched paper on the water rights issues in the area of the Verde Watershed. It looked at the claims by everyone from the Salt River Project, to Arizona Public Service, to the mining companies, to the various municipalities, to landowners, and even the Indian Tribes. They had obtained reports from hydrologists, geologists, community activists – the whole nine yards. Aunt Jim had a new cartoon strip called Resident Pagan. New fiction. All the local news. Our first two color cover. We were raising the price to one dollar. It was ready to go.
One morning I walked into our new offices upstairs in the B building at the High School complex to find that Gary had packed everything up and left town. In the dark of the night. With absolutely no warning. I was dumbfounded. I can’t imagine the look on my face as I stood in the office that morning. I had no money. And no way to get any. I had no explanation. My guess was that Gary didn’t want to go into the necessary debt in order to move forward and didn’t want to face the rest of us. Maybe he thought it would be easier to just disappear . . .
It was over. Just like that. After only twelve issues, we were done. The amount that I had estimated – the amount that would have gotten us over the hump – the amount that I told Gary he needed to find, was roughly $10,000. I would have taken it in quarters.
This compilation of the complete issues of the Jerome Times is dedicated to every writer, artist, photographer, ad sales director, typist, typesetter, printer, layout artist, collator, cartoonist, delivery kid, advertiser, etc. that ever had anything to do with the publication. It would not have been what it was without the efforts of everyone that had anything to do with it.
It is above all dedicated to the true core of nuts that put in the sixteen hour days, didn’t pay their rents, took the scorn and abuse, went without meals, drank quads from Macy’s all day, stared bleary eyed at 11 x 17 negatives until 2 in the morning, drank too much, smoked too much, came up with ideas that proved to be dangerous, and laughed all the way through it.
Gary, Jim, and Kate. This is dedicated to you.
Issue 1 1
Issue 2 16
Issue 3 41
Issue 4 65
Issue 5 89
Issue 6 113
Issue 7 137
Issue 8 161
Issue 9 185
Issue 10 209
Issue 11 233
Issue 12 257
Picture on the facing page:
Left to right on the back row top – Gary Fife (publisher, airbrush artist, and candle lighter ), Terry Baker (author and linguist), Jim Youell (cartoonist and azurite miner)
Next row down – Aunt Jim (cartoonist and dangerous idea man), Donald Joseph (associate editor, writer, and future radio exec.), Terry Molloy (editor and fill in the blanks), Ray Rantapaa (writer, typist, and future mayor)
Next row down, the ladies – P.J. McIntire (Ad sales director, publisher’s girlfriend, and exotic dancer), Esther Burton (writer, safari guide, and guardian angel), Dawn Tolbert (printer and missing in action)
Bottom row – Kate Roberge (layout/pasteup, proofreader, and lynchpin), Mary Frey (writer, mystic, and expatriate)