I love letters to the editor. I’m not entirely certain the editor loves letters to him as much as I do but, hey, it’s all part of the job.
One of my great disappointments when I first began to grace the back of Pique with my graceless prose was the utter lack of letters to the editor. Not about what I was writing but about anything at all. I assumed it had something to do with the fact people in Whistler are both busy and, well, perhaps not apathetic but let’s call it attention challenged.
This disappointment was heightened when I picked up a local paper in Kimberley and found it buoyant with letters to the editor. Kimberley! On the one hand we have Whistler, with all its world-classiness, media hype and four-season splendour. On the other hand, we have Kimberley with its annual accordion festival and… well, with an accordion festival what else does a town need? Especially when you feature a 40-accordian, European orchestra playing Ride of the Valkyries. Okay, it was in fact the very week of the Great Kimberley Accordion Festival when I was there. And the town was at the peak of its annual buzz, jampacked with locals and tourists wandering the Platz, delirious from too many soft pretzels, sausages and sweet bock beer. Still, I was gobsmacked… and not a little bit jealous.
As a result, for a long time I considered it part of my loosely-defined columnist job to spark letters to the editor. I tried everything I could think of. I ran contests that resulted in not a single letter and even fewer entries. I tried controversy, once going so far as to suggest a not-too-tortured reading of the Christian bible could leave people wondering whether the Jesus character might not be gay, not that he ever stumbled into a men’s room at an airport in a U.S. city where the cops have nothing better to do than troll for closeted, homo-bashing Republicans tapping their foot in an adjacent stall. Nothing! Okay, one letter from someone suggesting my understanding of the bible lacked depth. Duh.
Over the years, and owing nothing at all to my efforts, letters to the Pique editor ebbed and flowed but mostly flowed. Today, the letters section is mostly alive and well with people writing about the challenges and triumphs of the moment, people thanking others for making their fundraising a success, people igniting bridges before they leave town, people making disparaging remarks about local politicians.