|The Story of
Forget: A Memoir
by Jeff Coll
Whether I shall turn out to be the hero of Forget Magazine,
or whether that station will be held by anybody else, this hypertext
document must show. To begin my life with the beginning of my
life, I record that I was born (as I have been informed and
believe) on a Friday, at twelve o'clock at night. It was remarked
that the clock began to strike, and I began to cry, simultaneously.
I did not stop crying for eighteen years, when I began my studies
at the University of Prince Edward Island. It was at the university
that I discovered that the world is filled with evil and has
been for thousands of years. This realisation desensitised me
from all violence, and the clock striking twelve did not seem
to me like such a great tragedy anymore.
By my second year of study at the university, I was well adjusted
enough to participate in extra-curricular activities. I had
always enjoyed reading and writing, so I decided to join the
basketball team. Before the try-outs even began, however, I
was shamed away by my fellow hopefuls, because I only stood
five feet and four inches tall. In a world only seen by me from
atop a milk crate, they laughed. I decided to volunteer for
the student newspaper-The Cadre-instead.
In the beginning, I tried to stay out of the way at the newspaper.
I attended the meetings, handed in my articles on time, and
fraternised very little with the staff and other volunteers.
I wrote movie reviews at first-short ones, because the rather
intimidating-looking editor-in-chief had commanded it so-but
one week, a review that I submitted went unpublished in a publication
desperate for material. In response-in retaliation, rather-I
decided to write a letter to the editor under a pseudonym. In
the letter, I explained how disappointed I was in the absence
of movie reviews from the great Jeff Coll in the previous week's
issue of The Cadre. On one computer disc, I submitted
that fateful letter, along with two other letters that mused
on various on-campus activities, and my regular movie reviews.
The reviews were published, and so were the letters, and soon
afterwards, I heard that the editor-in-chief of The Cadre
was looking for me. (My job at Tim Hortons had prevented me
from attending recent meetings, at which I would have been able
to grant the editor an audience.) I thought that the editor
had it in for me-that although he published my letters, he didn't
appreciate criticism of the student newspaper coming from the
One afternoon, in the early autumn of 1999, Kent Bruyneel lumbered
up to me in the quadrangle of UPEI while I was talking to some
friends. The editor-in-chief interrupted me with a look on his
face that I thought meant that he was going to hurt me-and I
believed he could hurt me, because he was much larger than I.
It turned out, however, that he had greater plans in store for
me-plans that would require me to remain unhurt for the time
being. What I had interpreted as rage from Kent turned out to
be confidence. When Kent has something on his mind, I realised,
he goes out into the quadrangle-literally and metaphorically-and
gets it done.
Kent's vision for me at the time was to write false letters
to the editor. The reasoning was simple: plenty of people had
negative things to say about The Cadre, but nobody actually
bothered to write in to complain, or even volunteer to help
improve the paper. Because I had a gift for writing in different
styles and voices, and because I did not mind offering my genuine
opinions, I became the critical voice of UPEI's student newspaper;
there wouldn't have been one otherwise. I continued to write
movie reviews, so as a hint to my true authorship, I wrote the
letters using the names of movie characters as pseudonyms; Frank
Mackey from Magnolia, Tracy Flick from Election, and Max Fischer
from Rushmore all gave their criticisms of The Cadre,
and nobody seemed to notice. Every once in a while, we heard
that readers were a little concerned that Kent almost always
responded to every letter with some variation of, "Go fuck
As my role in The Cadre became more important, I in turn
became more comfortable spending time in the newspaper office.
I befriended some of the volunteers and employees, and I even
worked up the courage to apply for the job of production manager
for the second semester of my second year. I was supposedly
granted an interview, but nobody told me about it, so I never
showed up. It would not have mattered, anyway, because the then-current
production manager, who had planned on leaving UPEI after the
first semester of that year, decided not to leave and wanted
to keep the job.
And kept the job she did, but she never actually worked on any
of the issues in the second semester. Once it became clear that
I could fill in as the production manager, I declined, because
I had already accepted a roll in a university-produced play-the
Valet in Jean-Paul Sartre's No Exit. (It was a thankless and
rather small role, but people commented that I played a good
devil. My critics meant well, but I think they missed the point,
because I was trying to play a character without personality.
In existential drama, the main characters are their own devils.
My character wasn't a protagonist or an antagonist or even a
catalyst. He was exposition.) Kent, therefore, took it upon
himself to handle the layout himself, doing the best he could
while also trying to copy edit, edit for libel, and handle many
of the newspaper's administrative tasks while the production
editor made himself scarce, putting on his own plays and completing
his education degree.
Near the end of the second semester that year, it was time for
everyone to apply or reapply for positions at The Cadre
for the next school year. Kent reapplied for editor, and for
no good reason that I can recall, I decided not to apply for
anything. When hiring was over, it turned out that nobody had
applied for production manager, and once Kent had confirmed
his position as editor-in-chief for a second year, he had a
new vision for me. It was this vision that would cause Kent
to proclaim himself a "star maker" without a trace
of irony: he decided that it was time for The Cadre to
become an entirely digitally produced publication, and that
I would be the one to usher in the change.
For years, The Cadre was designed in Adobe PageMaker,
printed out in segments on letter-sized paper, and assembled
on pasteboards; photographs were adhered onto their designated
places in the layout and the final pasted-together product was
then taken to the province's daily newspaper-known to us as
The Guardian-to be digitised and printed. With his mighty powers
of persuasion, Kent obtained a scanner, a digital camera, and
a new used computer to help with The Cadre's digital
revolution. Kent would say that the pivotal moment of The
Cadre came when he commanded me to be the next year's production
manager, gave me a handbook for QuarkXPress-the publishing industry's
leading design software-and told me to learn how to use QuarkXPress
before the summer was out, or else I would be "strung up
by my nutsack." It is difficult to resist Kent's command
of the English language, so I complied with his demands.
When the summer between my second and third years ended, I had
familiarised myself with QuarkXPress, and I was confident that
I could do a more than passable job at designing the new Cadre.
The Cadre that I single-handedly designed that year was
markedly different from the various UPEI student newspapers
that had been produced in previous years. (In the UPEI's 30-year
history, the UPEI student newspaper had gone through many name
changes. The first incarnation was known as The Cadre,
but it later acquired such flinch-inducing titles such as The
Panther Prints and The Gem. The year before I
started going to UPEI, the powers that be changed the name back
to The Cadre, which was an act of progress through regression.)
Because the source document that I created was completely digital,
the quality of the images being printed greatly increased. And
The Cadre looked better than it ever did, not only because
we had embraced the new technology, but because I knew how to
do my job. Even back when I was making dozens of mistakes per
issue, I knew that I was the best production manager that The
Cadre had ever had.
To aid in deflecting the criticisms that the previous year's
contents had too much humour and silliness (Criticisms that
were all mine, of course, because I was the newspaper's only
public critic.), Stephan MacLeod and I had the idea to isolate
all of the humour into a four-page section that we called The
Faction. Stephan and I and Kent produced the entire contents
of The Faction: satirical news articles and opinion pieces,
crudely drawn comic strips, and Stephan's immensely popular
carry-over from the previous year "Fact and Opinion"
were its staples. We considered The Faction almost like
an independent publication within The Cadre-if the reader
did not like it, he or she could remove the middle spread, line
their litter boxes with it, and go on reading everything else.
The rest of the pages of The Cadre tried to be credible,
but edgy, journalistically by dealing with important issues
on and off campus that other media in PEI didn't want to deal
By the end of the year, however, our best intentions failed
and the contents of The Faction had merged into the "regular"
pages of The Cadre. My first suspicions of such a fate
were when Kent asked Jonah Campbellthe highest aggregate
in second-year Arts at UPEIand Mike Lecky (top)
dumpster diver and self-employed graphic designerto
bring their live-action comic strip "The Adventures of
Boxlor" off of Mike's website Superfunk.com and onto the
pages of The Cadre. Kent promised them the coveted back
page of the newspaper, which did not qualify as Faction
territory, although the concept of a man-played by Mike himself-with
a box on his head causing trouble in public places is definitely
something that belonged in The Faction. With his usual
persistence, Kent managed to get Mike and Jonah to produce an
original "Boxlor" comic in time for it to be published
in The Cadre's first-annual Christmas Issue.
Around the time that Kent was hassling Mike for "Boxlor,"
Kent must have realised that Mike was good for something more
than funny comics about a vulgar person with a box for a head.
Mike's Superfunk.com begat Aioku.com, which displayed Mike's
remarkable talent for web design. His work was pure chaos and
it confused me, because my design style is one of simplicity
and order. We are both geniuses, but geniuses from different
worlds that should never meet in case there is a paradox and
the universe explodes. Neither of us really understood each
other's theories of design, nor did we discuss them. We just
let it be, as the song says.
So, as I understood it, spending three semesters putting out
a print publication was not enough for Kent.. At some point
in his long academic career (he had already gotten himself a
Bachelor's degree in Business Administration at UPEI many, many
years ago and was currently at UPEI accumulating a load of English
and History credits that never quite added up to a Bachelor
of Arts), he had gotten himself some sort of information technology
diploma and knew about the ways of the World Wide Web. He already
had for himself a corner of the web called TheBasementCo.com,
which featured personal observations and fragments of novels
that he had started, but what he seemed to really want was a
web version of The Cadrea cultural magazine of
sortsexcept with better writers and a more appreciative
But that is not to say that The Cadre did not have its
share of good writers. Around the same time that he had made
connections with Mike, Kent also befriended Matthew Dorrell,
who was known by us at The Cadre as the interesting contributor
to the weblog Actsofvolition.com. Kent had convinced Matthewwho
was taking a few courses at UPEI, trying to earn himself Honours
in English after having already received his Bachelor of Arts-to
submit some short stories for the very same Christmas Issue
in which Mike's "Boxlor" debuted. Two very fine stories
by Matthew appeared in the Christmas Issue, and Kent also recruited
Matthew to co-edit the Poetry Spectacular issue that would come
out at the end of the second semester. Matthew did not actually
write very much for The Cadre during the months between
the Christmas Issue and the Poetry Spectacular, now that I think
of it. But he did hang around the office a lot, and there was
no doubt that he could write well.
By the time 2000 became 2001, Kent had immersed himself in the
idea of creating a web magazineForget Magazine.
He showed up less than before at the office, and entrusted the
other staff members at The Cadre to perform their tasks
without him. At times, I felt like I was more the editor than
Kent was, and Kent would have agreed. I decided what would go
in, and I had to contend with our new news editor, who had apparently
written for real newspapers before, but did not seem to know
how to write.
Kent isn't one to turn down a free ride to his home province,
however, so he made sure to make it known that he was the editor-in-chief
of The Cadre so he could attend the Canadian University
Press conference in Vancouver. I was also able to attend the
conference, and I was excited to see Vancouver, which I had
always heard was exciting. (It turns out that Vancouver is really
called Richmond and its most exciting attraction is a really
big shopping mall within walking distance of our hotel.) At
the conference, I witnessed firsthand as Kent tried to represent
both The Cadre and Forget Magazine. He showed
people issues of The Cadre, which he was very proud of,
so they could understand what he was capable of organizing,
so that perhaps someday they might consider writing for him
in another publication. Kent made people like CUP's Ottawa Bureau
Chief Darren Stewart so enthusiastic about The Cadre
that whenever Darren saw any of the other Cadre staff who had
come to the conference, he bubbled with excitement around them.
Kent even tried to convince one of the guest speakers, Narduar
the Human Serviette, to write a piece for his budding web magazine.
From the computer room, Kent showed me a mock-up of the Forget
design that Mike had done, noting that the margins would
need to be increased, but otherwise it was perfect. In less
than a month, the first article would appear on ForgetMagazine.com
with that very same design.
There was a time when the story of Forget Magazine was
also the story of The Cadre. But now, two years later,
Forget is its own force. Kent is never one to keep all
of the credit for himself, and he no doubt credits Forget's
success to many of the people who were there from the beginning.
I was there from the beginning, submitting my comic strips that
had already been published in The Cadre and keeping the
affairs of The Cadre in order while he was doing whatever
he did to launch Forget. So the secret is out: Forget
is a success because of me. Although Forget is now based
far away from where it all beganfrom meI will cherish
the memories that I have of making the creation of such a fine
web magazine as Forget possible. It is, after all, the
little things in life that give me pleasure.
keeps his deadlines.
East 29th Ave.