Saturday, December 8, 2007

Boardman


Latest in my series of lunch dates was Dave Boardman, my old boss, mentor and friend from the Seattle Times. We met at Il Fornaio downtown, the same place Mich and I lunched with our cousin Rick a week or so ago.

I owe Boardman a lot. When I first started at the Seattle Times in 1987 (that story's available here), I was in the suburban South King County bureau, an OK job at the time time but not where I wanted to be long-term. Five or six months after I started there, a reporting job in the two-person state capital bureau came open and I applied. Boardman was politics editor at the time and I had never met him, but after an interview and a couple of tense days of waiting around he gave me the gig. It turned out, I think, that no one else from within the paper applied, and the choice was between me and some cub reporter from Cleveland who only seemed about half interested. No matter, I was thrilled to get the assignment, and to this day it remains one of my all-time favorite journalism jobs.

Boardman was a good boss and an excellent editor. He taught me a lot about developing story ideas off the news, and I think we were a great team. We could almost read each other's minds about what a story needed. He pushed me to finish stories much faster and with more depth than I thought was possible, and -- I'll say on my own behalf -- I think I delivered. Later, when he was city editor he hired me as politics editor, a job that led to plenty more opportunities. I grew a lot under his tutorship, and a lot of the things I've done as an editor since are things I learned from Dave.

He also was a good friend. When Greta and I were producing her first solo album Dave was a financial supporter. He turned us onto an amazing rental house at Green Lake, owned by a friend of his -- Carol Smith, who later became a friend and colleague at the P-I. When Greta was in the hospital delivering Gina -- a story in itself, complete with 30-hour labor and a C-section -- somebody broke into our house. Somehow Boardman found out about it, notified me at the hospital and secured our place until I could get home. He's a big-hearted guy.

Somewhere along the line, though, we had a falling out at work. The details aren't important at this point, but it's safe to say we had different ideas about when and how I should take the next steps in my career. I was mad about it for years -- not without justification, I think.

But, you know, time marches on. I've been sick, and I have to say Dave was one of the first people to offer support and friendship. When we launched "Team Mark," to send me to the World Series of Poker this summer, Dave was an early and generous contributor.

A couple of weeks ago, he sent me this cool photo of the girls performing with Greta at Pacific Place, and we decided to meet for lunch.

Our date Thursday was nice. We talked about my health, his job, our kids, and caught up after a long time of not seeing each other one-on-one. Dave asked me what was the biggest difference between working at the Times and the P-I. I told him the truth: The P-I is a warmer, more collegial place to work, and I think that is both its greatest strength and biggest weakness. Everybody really likes each other, but the result, it sometimes seems to me, is that management is reluctant to make tough decisions that would help the paper for fear of making someone unhappy and ruining the vibe.

Anyway, after all this time it was nice to reconnect with Boardman.

Tonight, before the Sharon Jones concert (the evening's highlight), is the P-I holiday party. We'll all be happy to see each other, I'm sure.

1 comment:

Rita said...

That's why I love ya like I do, do, do!

Hope this super-sounding night is just that.