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Phoenix Rises from Ashes; Staff Issues the Real Paper

By Barbara A. Slavin

The Real Paper--formerly the Phoenix--appeared in Harvard Square yesterday. Forty-three Phoenix staff members published the paper, defying last week's dissolution of the Phoenix corporation and sale of its name to Boston After Dark (BAD).

The first issue of the Real Paper was financed by an anonymous donation of $200 and advertising sales, said staff member Chuck Fager. Since all staffers are working without pay, total publication costs amounted to only $1800.

Attributing this week's 24-page issue to temporary loss of ads to BAD, Fager said that by next Monday they would be back to the normal 48-52 pages. "We had only one day to get ads," he explained.

Meanwhile the old Phoenix staff is fighting to regain lost advertising and hunting for new backers. Fager confirmed that an individual who has some connection with New York Magazine, but is acting on his own behalf, came to Boston yesterday to discuss possible funding with Phoenix representatives.

At a meeting of staff members last night, Fager said that some decision should be reached by the end of the week.

For the last few days the Real Paper has had no real office. Tentative plans to obtain working space in the Harvard-Radcliffe Catholic Student Center did not materialize. Monday's issue was put together in a basement of a house near Central Square.

At last night's meeting it was announced, however, that space for this week had been located at an office in East Cambridge.

The Real Paper, the Phoenix's former publisher Richard Missner and BAD have been exchanging charges and suits all week. On Friday the Phoenix staff won a temporary restraining order blocking Missner from spending the proceeds from the sale of the paper. On August 7 they will attempt to convert the temporary restraining order to a preliminary injunction.

Steven Mindich, BAD publisher, filed in Middlesex Court last Friday against Chuck Fager, Charlie McCollum, Laura Schapiro, Paul Solman and Bob Rotner of the Phoenix staff to enjoin against the use of the name "Phoenix" on any new publication. At a hearing this morning at 9:30 it will be decided if the use of the Phoenix format is also subject to enjoinment.

The Real Paper's fight for ads is hampered by "BAD intimidation" according to Chuck Fager. Dick Reitman, another staffer, said at last night's meeting that BAD had been calling Phoenix advertisers since last Wednesday, telling them that "they had no alternative but to sign with BAD."

Mindich denied that he was trying to intimidate anybody. "We are only telling advertisers the truth about what has happened," he said.

Judging by the results of today's sales in Harvard Square, the Real Paper people have won their first battle. Hawkers were reporting up to 3 to 1 sales of the Real Paper over BAD. Last night Fager said that hawkers had sold all the papers distributed to them--close to 20,000 copies.

The Real Paper expects to sell another 10,000 copies on the new stands this week. If they do, they may outsell BAD--which usually sells only 20,000 per week--in addition to making $1500 in clear profit, almost enough to publish another edition the size of yesterday's paper

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