In tabloid jargon, the cover of the paper is called the “wood.” Let it be said that in reporting on the conflict between Jeff Bezos and National Enquirer owner David Pecker over Bezos’s d*ck pics, the New York Post has achieved the Black Forest of woods.
Oh, this makes me so happy, I just can’t tell you! The most legendary of New York Post headline writers was the late Vinnie Musetto, whose greatest contribution was the immortal “Headless Body In Topless Bar”. When I went to work for the post in 1998, I was introduced to Vinnie, who was by then a serene old man whose gray ponytail extended out from the back of a trucker hat.
One of the old-timers said, “You should have seen him before he got medicated. He would go into these rages, and oh my god.” But there he was, the legend himself, mildly pecking away at his keyboard, his volcanic genius bound by antipsychotic meds.
I was at the Post for just over three years, and they were among the most rewarding of my professional life. I’m not kidding, not remotely. I loved that paper. The day I came in for my job interview was the day that the Monica Lewinsky story broke. I recall standing in the newsroom when Marc Kalech, the rotund, mustachioed managing editor, blew through holding some document high, and saying with great good cheer, “If there’s a way to trivialize this story, we’ll find it!”
That was the Post. Every newspaper I’ve ever worked at went about their jobs solemnly, carrying the Public’s Trust™ as if it were a funeral urn. Not the New York Post. They were in it to have fun. Along the way, we did serious work too. For example, in my role there, I reported some groundbreaking stuff about Rev. Jesse Jackson’s financial and political corruption, and I also broke news about a priest sex abuse scandal in the Archdiocese of New York. The Post managed to be a serious newspaper without taking itself too seriously — an extremely rare quality. It was as if the entire thing was written and edited from the corner of a bar.
My personal favorite wood published while I was there came when a court divorce filing revealed that Carol Channing accused her husband, Charles Lowe, of neglecting her in the bedroom for decades. The wood was like the one you see above, with the sub-headline on top of the headline. This was what the text said, over a photo of Channing shrugging comically:
No sex for 30 years
HELL NO, DOLLY
I like to think that after today’s BEZOS EXPOSES PECKER wood, somewhere in Hack Heaven, Vinnie Musetto got his wings. If the New York Post is still publishing at the Second Coming, God bless ’em, they’ll find a way to trivialize that too.