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For the record, I did not intend to call the entire room full of Western Canada’s magazine publishing elite, ‘old’. It was supposed to be a motivating speech about the energetic youth movement and the vibrant future of the magazine industry, and had I more time to prepare these words, and I had I not consumed the free martinis and the over-priced gin and tonics, it would have come out a lot better. But I guess that’s what you get when you send a guy like me to a fancy gala – a guy who not that long ago was elbow-deep in a meaningless greenhouse job and is now way too excited to be a part of the Canadian publishing industry and attending an event that, to me anyways (not yet tainted by the cynicism from many of the publishing vets at said gala), is as close to the Oscars as I’ll ever get.
Geist attended the 28th Annual Western Magazine Awards where we brought home not only BC/Yukon Magazine of the Year but the coveted Western Canada Magazine of the Year award as well.
All dressed up and somewhere to go, 4 young geisters including our circulation guru Kristin, her protege Chelsea, our e-newsletter wizard Lauren, and myself (the web guy), took a couple tequila shots and then
The awards ceremony went quickly thanks to a precedent of curt speeches. Judging from the winners’ reactions, many of them had won in previous years, and so this had become a formality. But not so for the Geist youth. When Vicki called our name for BC Magazine of the Year we were ecstatic. Unfortunately, we were also quite shy about the whole thing and so Kristin went up to accept alone, but she did very well and gave a very graceful acceptance speech on Geist’s behalf- all according to plan. Also unfortunately, I had spent the duration of her speech kicking myself for not taking the opportunity to join her on stage and stand before such a presitiguous crowd with my big name tag on. And so, I resolved that if we won the big one, the M.O.T.Y., I was going up there – no questions.
And then we won. The ultimate award. The ‘Best Picture’ of the WMA’s. I was up out of my seat way too fast and happy to strut up there with Kristin again. I had planned to be her ‘rock’, a pillar of support and stand quietly by her side while she graciously accepted again. And so it was, until she caught me off-guard by passing me the mic. What happened next was a blur.
I started with a mock toast to 20 more years of Geist, but somewhere along the lines something went horribly wrong. I guessed I phrased it wrong when I said “I can’t help but feel young in this crowd here tonight” which was met by a disgruntled din in the crowd, a ‘boo’ or two, many chuckles and a guffaw from Vicki Gabereau over my right shoulder. Grasping at straws I back-pedaled and tried to explain myself, but it was going nowhere. So what do I do? I turn to Vicki and tap my cheek for a kiss. She reluctantly accepts, I pump my fist, and now the whole thing is a hot mess.
I swear, the photographer took maybe five photos all night long, but when my face went red and all this embarrassment was being acted out onstage, a second (and maybe third) photographer appeared from nowhere and it was nothing but flashbulbs. After a long walk back to our table, to the sound of Vicki Gabereau asking if it was past my bedtime and speculating as to why I hadn’t worn my ‘jammies’ out tonight, I slunk into my seat and then burst out laughing.
Based on the comments I endured from the people I met in the lobby afterwards, it was the highlight of the night for many. And so, riding this ridiculous high and the elation of winning two huge awards, the four of us jetted off to Joey Burrard’s for a celebratory drink. At first there was no table for us, but when I told the maitre d’ that he was looking at the winners of Western Canada’s Magazine of the Year, they made us our own table and presented us with a bottle of bubbly on the house. Glad to know that writers and magazine publishers can still get some respect in this town!
And so, days later with the champagne and gin cloud lifted from my head, I would like to give this another try: Thanks to the Western Canada Magazine Awards for honouring Geist with this prestigious award. We are truly grateful to be in the company of all the other deserving nominees and we thank you for all the support for a little ol’ literary magazine with humble livingroom beginnings. Here’s to 20 more years of Geist!