Tuesday 8 May 2007

Bye: Gary Dunford

Remember when the Toronto Sun knew how to say its goodbyes to parting vets? A time when the tabloid had heart and an appreciation of the contributions made by its employees?

We do.

On July 30, 2005, veteran Toronto Sun columnist and transplanted Page Sixer Gary Dunford made his exit with a farewell column in his own words. Comments in bold face were posted on his new blog, along with his complete final column.

Doors open.
Doors close.
Sheepdogs sleep.

Just sent column 7,127 down the pipe.
I'm okay with it.
Saved this photo for this day. Sweet.
It looks at me every time I turn on my computer.
These columns kept him in kibble.

Guess I should also save a complete file copy here - in case it's not posted to the Canoe website Sunday. By accident, of course.

EXIT RIFF: This is my last column for the Toronto Sun.

Those who just muttered "Good" can probably stop reading.

The first dunf column surfaced in the third issue of the Sunday Sun. That was September 1973 - about 7,127 columns ago. Not bad for a part-time job.

From Trudeaumania to Prime Minister Dithers and Premier McFib, from the Tiny Perfect Mayor and North York Bananaman to Amiel, the Black Queen of King Street, it has been an all-too-enjoyable ride. Did I hear somebody request the Christmas Glove joke? Too late.

If you remember any of those columns, get to a clinic. You may be what we doctors call "an effin' boomer." Boomers are despised by ad agencies and young alike. Quick, get in the van. Enjoy our ride to the dump.

The clever columnist keeps two file folders.

One is the Alibi File, in which you place any favorable mention. Notes from Allan Slaight, Leonard Asper, Gary Lautens, Jim Carrey and years of in-house high fives. You frantically wave this folder the day you zig when you should have zagged and fear they might fire you. Mercy!

The other folder is labeled Last Column. Here, you save any final effort by a Royko, a Breslin that manages to touch your heart or shows some class, a generosity of spirit. You hope to marshal the same. If you can't, you can always scalp theirs. Hey, just kidding. That would be wrong.

Many exit columns celebrate mentors and guardians. Daily columns can only be grown by master gardeners. Mine would include the amazing Kathy Brooks, insightful pal John Downing, wise Trudy Eagan and quarterback Peter Worthington - who saved me from ever being sacked by a Bassett. And of course, tabloid newsdom's founding god of grins, Doug Creighton.

Barbara Amiel once wrote that to survive at the Sun you have to learn ballroom dancing and how to be a good sport. She danced with Doug. I once danced with Eagan. They were kind enough not to laugh. Or demand to see our Alibi Files. They were good sports. But hey, I've mastered the limbo.

To be a happy Sun reader, you need two things. Good toonz and good teeth. Try the new CD by jazz singer Chiara Civello for the first. And if you fear dentists more than a Liberal majority, find Anesthesia Associates in North York. Superhero "Dr. Dave" was not an invention. Dr. David Isen is real. So is being zonked, dentalphobes. Anyone for pre-med? Me!

I'm sorry we never solved the mystery of Mickey Mouse's dog, Pluto. He's half Mickey's size. Is Mickey a giant mouse? Or is Pluto no bigger than a thimble? Goofy- Mickey's next-door neighbor - is also a dog but walks on two legs. Does Pluto never look over the fence and cry: "Hey, I got a dog house. Look what that dog has! You're my pet now, cheese-breath."

Please, no sobbing, Sparky. There's no key to turn me off. Did I mention I've been blogging for a month? See proof at www.dunf.blogspot.com

Eight years ago, my late, great accountant asked how long I planned to write a column.

"Until they beg me to stop," I joked. "The Sun's been very good to me." Arthur Gelgoot, guru to so many media idiots, let a gentle smile flicker about his cozy Bay St. office. "You can stop any time, you know."

I nodded. He meant financially. I thought emotionally.

Years later, I had a conversation with somebody at the Sun I suspected might be my boss. A freelance writer, I never really knew who was my boss. Nobody ever talked to me about yesterday's column. Nobody asked what was in tomorrow's. They left me alone. AND paid me. Holy crap. Unique.

"Hey, when the day comes, just say the word," I assured one of the editors. "I won't go away mad. I'll just go away."

"Like hell you will," he laughed. "Everybody goes away mad." Wrong, dude. Page Six died screaming. But not me.

Exit laughing. Y'all have a great life. Thanks for the ride, gang.

Beer? dunf

Dunf's e-mail: pagesix@aol.com


  1. Thanks so much for so much pleasue Dunf! Still miss ya. Kent

  2. One of the best writers and minds that Sun Media Corp had! Have missed him for years, and he made my life far more livable growing up reading his daily rants and raves about happenings and non happenings. Miss you Dunf where ever you are now.

  3. Thanks for all the carefully chosen words Mr. Dunford. Rest assured, you may be gone (from the pages!) but you are not forgotten. KEEP ON WRITING!

  4. To this day, I have a clipping on my bulletin board from one of Dunf's columns:

    Three Laws of Nature

    1. The Other Line always moves faster.

    2. Flying saucers are real. The Air Force does not exist.

    3. If you can fool all of the people some of the time ... that's enough.