MANCHESTER, New Hampshire, June 10, 2017 — College humor columnist Archer Parquette penned a farcical story — on deadline — to win the 2017 Jeff Kramer Mystic Tie Award of the National Society of Newspaper Columnists.
Mystic Tie is one of two NSNC contests where entries are gathered and judged within the conference, this year’s having been June 8-11 in this city. The other competition is the Sitting Duck Award, bestowed June 10 on the president’s @realDonaldTrump Twitter account.
Parquette is this year’s winner of the Dear Abby College Columnist Scholarship Contest, administered by the NSNC Education Foundation. He attends Boston College, where he’s features editor for its newspaper The Heights.
The set-up is announced on the Friday of the conference with a Saturday deadline. The title refers to former NSNC member Jeff Kramer, currently a columnist with the Syracuse (New York) New Times. Mystic is the Connecticut city that hosted the 1989 NSNC conference, where the contest began. The tie was ugly and soiled. So much so that the cravat had to be replaced within a few years. The latest tie seems to have been abandoned, perhaps in an airline lavatory, and the NSNC board has begun digging through neckwear discarded in the alley behind the Salvation Army store.
This year’s writing prompt was set up as usual by longtime NSNC member Bill Tammeus of Kansas City, Missouri. He noted that the politically important New Hampshire city began in the early 1700s under a series of names before settling on Manchester, including Nutfield, Old Harry’s Town and Derryfield. Tammeus asked imaginative conferees to pretend that the Board of Mayor and Aldermen have chosen a name to replace Manchester and to write the beginning of that story.
Here is Parquette’s winning entry:
“In a surprising turn of events, the town of Manchester, New Hampshire, has officially changed its name to ‘Shut the Hell Up, Gary.’
“Town Councilman Gary Gaseous commented on the change.
“‘That blowhard, Phil, rigged the damn election,’ Gary said. ‘I wanted to change our name to “Primary Palooza Town” to reflect our importance in the election, but he just couldn’t stand it.’
“The Town Council voted on potential town names by blind ballot. The final result was one vote for ‘Primary Palooza Town’ and 17 votes for ‘Shut the Hell Up, Gary.’
“Instead of reflecting the importance of Manchester’s political role, this new name reflects how big a pain in the ass Gary is,” Parquette’s entry ends.
The writer’s town name is something of a nod to a famous line of dialogue in the movie “The Big Lebowski.”