John Boston must have a trophy room in his Newhall home.
Where else do you keep more than 100 writing awards?
Saturday night, he brought home Number 118, for Best Humor Columnist for a newspaper with less than 100,000 circulation, from the National Society of Newspaper Columnists.
His win came for three columns out of four published during a recent stint at the local newspaper.
“Prior to being let go, the publisher had been cutting about one out of every two columns I’d been writing,” he said. “He sent me an e-mail saying I couldn’t write and wasn’t funny. I did a column about College of the Canyons and he called me into his office and asked why I was writing about the college, that no one’s ever heard of them.”
From that limited supply of wordsmithing came his winning trio of columns. And sweet justice.
Here’s how the judges described Boston and his body of work:
“Boston’s canny, descriptive – let’s be frank – vaguely disturbing lunacy towers not only over his own valley, but over many another. He’s a cowboy Kafka, condemned to colic and consternation over such things as his sister’s gift of a misshapen sweat that ‘fit neither chimpanzee stretched in a Spanish Inquisition rack nor any known Ripley’s Museum mondo child and the hue of coyote mange.'” Or perhaps he’s being tortured into immobility by an arctic glare from his wife, a woman apparently endowed with enough psychic power to turn a bowl of chili into a block of ice. Boston suggests that she’s from another planet. We suggest, based on these columns, that she is not the only one.”
The jocular tale-spinner hosts a talk show called “The Former Friends Of John Boston” on KTHS every Monday at 2 p.m., after which we caught up with him.
“I won this award back in 2000, when George Bush and Al Gore were the keynote speakers and the national conference was in Washington D.C.,” he said. “This year it was in Ventura.”
“I always was a firm believer about entering these things (contests), because it allows you at the end to look back and see how you’ve been writing, it makes you go back over your work. I always try to improve every year.”
He expressed concern that newspapers might not survive, although writers in new media have prompted the columnists’ group to add online and blog categories to the awards.
“I’m not sure what the nature of newspapers will be,” he mused. “There was a day awhile back where 17 Pulitzer prize winners walked out of the L.A. Times because the suits are trying to cut back and a lot of them don’t understand newspapers. It’s hard to run a newspaper in a good economy, let alone a bad one.”
Boston said that it was the fifth time that he was fired by “that organization,” referring to the local newspaper. “It was particular nice to win the award,” he added, smiling.
In the meantime, Boston keeps busy at the keyboard, working on nonfiction books and has two books ready for an agent’s consideration.
“I’ve already finished one called “Adam Henry” (a cop phrase for someone not-so-nice) and hope next year it will be published. The other one is called “Writing Poorly,” about a writer’s group in the desert, except for one guy, they’re all horrible writers who agree to either stop writing or get published. In the meantime, someone starts killing them off.”
Fans can catch his latest inspirations by logging on to thebostonreport.net and tuning in to AM-1220 at 2 pm every week or visiting hometownstation.com for the podcast.