Before Graydon Carter was the editor of Vanity Fair who jets to Bermuda while his magazine's staff is laid off, he was just a young Canadian with a penchant for ice-skating and an out-sized ego. So says a childhood friend!
In a post on his obscure political blog last month, an alleged former friend of Carter's, Jymn Parrett, writes "Apropos of nothing, I thought I'd share some late night memories of my BFF pre-teen memories of Vanity Fair editor Graydon Carter." He proceeds to paint a delightful Portrait of the Graydon as a Young Carter.
Did you know that the young Graydon Carter...
...goofed off in class?
Sometime in grade 8 at Queen Elizabeth school in Ottawa*, Carter and I laughed through the first few minutes of History class quoting Eddie Haskell lines. We spent the last part of class shoveling the rink as punishment, where we continued to break each other up with quotes from Mr. Haskell. I almost failed that grade because I could give a shit. Carter sailed through even he didn't give a shit, either
*Queen Elizabeth school is a public school in the suburbs of Ottawa, where Carter grew up. Motto: "At Queen Elizabeth, we are dedicated to the personal academic growth of every child."
...picked on people smaller than him?
Carter lifted me by my head off my feet in class to show classmates how 'light' it was. (I was a small dude with an even smaller head and not much in it, to boot, so I don't blame him).
...was sort of full of himself?
Graydon always had a smile - no, a sneer - no, a smirk - no, a self-satisfied look on his face.
...OK, really full of himself?
I sent a friend, Signe Hoffos*, to interview for a job at a Canadian rag** where Carter was the editor. He relayed an anecdote of me to her - laughing all the while - where I watched him with awe years earlier skate on my local rink when I was eight. It must be true. I remember watching this guy skating beautifully but I could not skate myself at the time because of debilitating asthma. I grew out of that and was a decent hockey player in my teens. I still do not know what Graydon Carter was doing on my near-poverty rink on Eastbourne Avenue when he lived in a huge house on the hill. Not sure either that Carter ever played hockey, knowing his well-known distaste for that sport, but I was amazed this was the anecdote he chose to relate to my friend.
*Signe Hoffos, Rosemont High class of 1972?
**Most Likely the Canadian Review, which New York Magazine writes was "an award-winning monthly that by 1977 had become the third-largest general interest magazine in Canada."
...had a very tan father?
Carter's father was a pilot who was very tanned.* Graydon said that people mistook him in the States for being a 'Negro'.
*From the "Writer's Almanac": "His father was a Royal Canadian Air Force pilot who took photographs from the air and helped to make the first maps of northern parts of Canada."
...was full of wonder?
We listened to the mono 45 of Gene Pitney's 'Mecca' over and over at Carter's house and marveled.
..was always destined for "the larger life"?
I was the in-house artist and ticket-taker at the Pineland rock and roll club* in Ottawa in the late 60's. Carter came in and I was too embarrassed to acknowledge him because he did not recognize me, although it was just a few years, and a couple of moves, after our friendship. I already knew then he was destined for the larger life.
This peek into the not-so-humble origins of Graydon Carter is heart-warming in a weird way. And it certainly adds some depth to Carter's public persona as the good-humored, if slightly bumbling, host to Manhattan's glitterati. Here, for example, is how Guardian writer Polly Vernon characterized Carter in a long profile last month: "Humility-despite-it-all is Carter's shtick. He bombards any listener with self-deprecating statements, with anecdotes designed to expose what he sells as his myriad flaws. He is the punch line to all his own jokes." Now imagine young Graydon picking up little Jymn Parrett by his head in geography class.
(We couldn't reach Parrett—apparently a Vancouver-based technical writer who founded Denim Delinquent, an "influential rock and roll fanzine" published from 1971-1976—but the details contained within his post match so well with those of Carter's life that only some kind of Graydon Carter-obsessed stalker could have faked this. More to the point: who's that down in the comments section? Appears to be Graydon himself!)