Former City Pages editor really loves David Carr and the grunge times at alt weeklies

Former City Pages Editor Craig Cox has a very deep appreciation for David Carr, coke lines and all. Carr, a New York Times writer and former Minneapolis journalist, has received nationwide attention for his new book documenting his journey through journalism as a drug addict and alcoholic. In a piece published on the Minneapolis Observer Web site, Cox weaves a review of Carr's latest book, The Night of the Gun, with personal anecdotes about Carr and the Twin Cities alternative weekly scene.

Cox, who left the paper in 1989, gave high praise to Carr for escaping his drug-riddled past in the "little pond" by escaping to the "big pond" of New York City.

"You can argue whether it was New York or his daughters or his devotion to his craft that keeps Carr alive these days, but one thing is indisputable: The guy is still a helluva reporter — even when he’s exploring his own terrifying past."

Cox paints a Minneapolis alternative weekly scene full of parties, drugs and offices bustling with lunatic journalists looking for a hit, a bar pick up who knew their name or the fame of breaking news in a town saturated with journalists.

That was especially true of aspiring young “alternative” journalists like David Carr. Once you were accepted into the club as a freelancer or — dream of dreams — a staffer at one of the two local alternative weeklies, you were plugged into the local pop culture scene in a way no one else was. You’d get tickets for the best shows at First Avenue or the Entry, hook up on a regular basis with cool people at the CC Club who actually knew your name, and generally have access to everything you needed to be considered hip. Plus, you were putting out a weekly whose mission was to expose greed and hypocrisy and right all that was wrong in our little corner of the world. All this, and a paycheck every couple of weeks that almost covered your rent.

And being a reporter — even one who was drunk or high most of the time — allowed him to rub elbows with celebrities (such as they are here), occasionally break some news, get some attention, go to all the coolest parties, and still feel pretty good about yourself in the morning.

You didn’t have to be high or narcissistic back then to feel good about working six days a week, every week (as we did at City Pages) for three or four hundred bucks. It was kind of an exclusive fraternity. But Carr was probably the only one among us who treated it like a part-time job, the only one who spent as much time cultivating his drug sources as his news sources. But there was a payoff we weren’t able to secure: He became a really big fish in our little backwater.

I didn't realize I was working for such a self-fulfilling publication! What a great legend this newsroom doesn't live up to. A quick look around the newsroom and all we can find is an office displaying the worst booze we could buy for our weekly "I can't believe it's not paint thinner" blog entry.

Some would argue things have changed here in the last decade, but most of us weren't around to see it.

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