Biting tabloid calling it quits
The Tooth, the tiny little mouth that roared, is slowly shutting its trap. A small, but vicious trap at that. Greg Boose, the creator and primary force behind Fargo-Moorhead's free monthly tabloid, plans to wind down production over the next six ...
The Tooth, the tiny little mouth that roared, is slowly shutting its trap. A small, but vicious trap at that.
Greg Boose, the creator and primary force behind Fargo-Moorhead's free monthly tabloid, plans to wind down production over the next six months.
"By May I want a lot of the writers to be fired or have quit," he says, taking a break from working on a chap book of poetry and drawings in Fargo's Red Raven Espresso Bar, where he takes part in a reading tonight.
He's off to a bang-up start. The October issue of the 11-by-17-inch four-page newsletter featured a front page story on how a Tooth staffer killed actor Tobey Maguire in a paparazzi car crash. The story featured a Moorhead dateline.
The new issue, which hits the streets - or at least less discriminating coffee shops and bars - today, features a gotcha interview with Samuel Alito. While the Supreme Court nominee is taking a shower. By a writer in a ski mask.
It's par for the course for a newsletter that blurs the line between juvenile and adult humor with mock advertisements.
So, how seriously should readers take the farcical tabloid?
"Not seriously at all," says the 27-year-old publisher. "But it's seriously funny."
However, he does take the project seriously. He discusses the monthly rag with an earnestness not found in the pages, which sometimes he intentionally numbers incorrectly.
He carefully follows pick-ups, putting circulation right around 500.
"I got pretty obsessive about it at first, then I got depressed. You put out 20 copies then go back and see five gone," he says.
Publication started in August 2004, while he waited for classes to start at Minnesota State University Moorhead. A Cleveland-area native, Boose studied marketing as an undergraduate. After two years in banking, he decided to return to writing and applied for the master of fine arts program at MSUM, not realizing the second M in the school's name stands for Moorhead.
"I saw where it was and I totally freaked out," says the slim student, wearing a pullover sweater and corduroy jeans, with his wavy black hair tucked under a backwards baseball cap.
He's been pleasantly surprised with Fargo-Moorhead, comparing it to Cleveland as a town with more going for it than outsiders give credit.
Since its birth, The Tooth has taken on more F-M material.
"Most of the articles show I have a love/hate relationship with pop culture, especially TV. And the Bush administration," he says.
Just what does a 20-something liberal love about the Bush White House?
"I love that they keep getting in trouble. It's great material."
It may be good material for a writer, but it hasn't always been welcomed. He was recently offered membership in a small printers' collective, then denied access because of language used in The Tooth. He's been denied access to some locations including the North Dakota State University campus. Still, a link from the student newspaper The Spectrum, sends readers to the paper's site, www.thetoothnews.com .
When NDSU's parody paper, The Bulls Sheet, got attention earlier this year, Boose felt The Tooth was slighted.
"Man, I'm putting out four pages for 15 months and I think I deserve my just desserts," he says.
Just picking up the paper, it would be hard figuring out just where to send those just desserts. With the exception of cartoonist Chris Simmons, all of the names on the masthead are made up.
Things are picking up for Boose. He's secured four legitimate advertisers and says he's made a profit on the latest issue. After taking January off, he'll publish February through May.
"I just don't want to jump the shark," he says.
That would just take the bite out of The Tooth.
Readers can reach Forum Features Editor John Lamb at (701) 241-5533