In Colombia, they call him El Coopé. You may know him as Coop or the “Scoop” or any of many monikers. Alex Cooper helped write more than 400 issues and thousands of stories in the Revelstoke Review. Reved caught up with him in San Gil, Colombia, where he is currently on an epic expeditionionionione, biking across the continent, praying that the first two seasons of Narcos help him adequately navigate cartels, communists and an endless wilderness.
RQ—Please state your full name.
Coop—Alexander Stephen Cooper XVI.
RQ—You haven’t been taken hostage by FARC rebels or anything?
Coop—Not yet, but it would make for a great story, wouldn’t it? Assuming I survived unscathed. Or pulled off an incredible James Bond-esque escape.
RQ—Where on earth are you right now?
Coop—San Gil, the so-called “Adventure Capital of Colombia.” It’s kind of like Revelstoke, but bigger, there’s no snow and the traffic is terrible. Great whitewater rafting, though, and they built a gondola that goes down and up a huge canyon, like if the gondola at RMR kept going across the valley and up to the glacier on Mount Begbie.
RQ—Cooooool. And, what in the name of Pablo E. Escobar are you doing there?
Coop—Resting, dealing with some bike issues and going adventuring. As of writing, I’ve been off for three days and I’m getting antsy to get going on my bike tour again. My next destination is Medellín, which is 500 kilometres away. By the time you read this, who knows where I’ll be (considering Reved sits on the newsstand for three months).
RQ—Have you landed on a name for your bike yet? (It’s bad luck to have a bike without a name.)
Coop—Honestly, I haven’t. Maybe you can make it a Reved reader poll?
RQ—Seriously, Coop. We miss you already. Do you miss us?
Coop—A little bit.
RQ—Being a one-man newsroom, you gathered lots of institutional knowledge of this place, its practices, key players and all that. What do you think about leaving all your devoted readers and citizens flying blind?
Coop—I think it’s a good thing. A new editor will bring fresh eyes to the community and see stories I glossed over or ignored because of a “been there, done that” type of thing. It might take Marissa a few weeks or months to get up to speed, but the news will continue to get reported, and with a fresh perspective. I also expect Reved to start covering council meetings. What else do you have to do every second Tuesday afternoon?
RQ—Maybe. Hey, I see that media got to heli over the wildfires after you left. Do you miss us now?
Coop—One of my first assignments ever as a paid journalist, while working for the Columbia Valley Pioneer in Invermere, was flying over a wildfire in Kootenay National Park, so whatever. Just kidding, I would have happily done it again. Coincidentally, Simon Hunt was in charge of that controlled burn that launched my journalism career. The media relations person on that tour, Tania Peters, also ended up in Revelstoke for a bit, before settling in #EastRevy.
RQ—Coop by the numbers: 400 issues. Stories, thousands. How many council meetings you’ve been to?
Coop—I didn’t start going to council regularly until I took over as editor in April 2014. Before that, it was Aaron Orlando’s job, and he loved it so much, he left the paper to run for council. For the record, I have no intention of doing that, unless I’m really desperate for work when I get back. To answer your question, probably 100 or so, each more thrilling than the last.
RQ—Boxers? Or news briefs?
Coop—Considering I’m on a bike tour, chamois all the way.
RQ—You’re one of a chosen few to have been in not one but two Rob Buchanan cartoons. What was the first one, again? And how does it feel at the pinnacle of fame?
Coop—The first one was “What if Alex Cooper switched spots with Alice Cooper.” I’m pretty sure Rob couldn’t come up with anything topical that week, so he resorted to that. It’s a true honour. I feel like how Mona Lisa must have felt when she had her portrait painted by Leonardo da Vinci (or, more appropriately considering I’m in Colombia, when Fernando Botero painted) his version of the Mona Lisa.
RQ—Everyone’s wondering-, are YOU Revelstoke Charm?
RQ—In your farewell column, you wrote a best of Coop reel. If you could, what story would you like to go back and do differently?
Coop—There’s a few stories I published that I felt weren’t as good as they could be. There’s a few stories I worked on but didn’t write for various reasons, and one I can think of that I did an interview for, should have written, but didn’t, and I regret that. I had to publish two apologies and I agonized over those mistakes
Coop—There was that time I quoted Anne Cooper, the former school district superintendent, referring to the old Mountain View Elementary addition as the “pink nipple.” Turns out, she said “pink pimple.” What was I thinking?
RQ—Your replacement has some big shoes to fill, figuratively and literally. Any advice?
Coop—Find shoes that fit for you. It will make life much easier and more comfortable. In fact, just wear whatever shoes you brought with you.
RQ—How do you keep your hair so voluminous?
Coop—The real question: How do I keep it down? My hair does what it wants.
RQ—Does being six-foot-something help you being a reporter?
Coop—It helped seeing above the mob when JT came to town. But I wonder if being shorter would have helped me hide under tables and eavesdrop on the mayor more easily.
RQ—What do you hope is your legacy at the Review?
Coop—That the paper didn’t die under my watch. ϕ