Ok, Why Now?
A good 12 years have passed since selling “Sun Monthly,” a general interest magazine I co-published out of Santa Fe, New Mexico with my late wife, Linda Braun. By “general interest,” I mean that during the dozen years we owned and edited it, we covered pretty much whatever topic at the time struck our interest. Though our print run never exceeded ten thousand copies it was an exhilarating, fulfilling time.
In the interim between then and now I’ve had to scratch my writing itch through Facebook posts, editing non-profit newsletters and writing the occasional article or blog. Worthwhile as those venues might be, the thrill of providing copy for them lacks a certain satisfaction when compared to writing for ones own magazine. And so, here I am, still curating my thoughts in public—only this time using virtual paper and ink. Thank you for indulging me.
Now...why not me?
While this may look like my website, in reality it’s more a white flag of surrender to my personality. After 50 years of wrestling with a very slippery and wiry ego, it is time to admit defeat. Relinquishing all pretense of not knowing what I think I know, my hipper-than-thou-self refuses to die. You’ve been warned.
An early indication of an ability to put words together to form sentences happened my senior year. Fortune had smiled upon me in 1966 when John Maltese, Steubenville High’s journalism teacher of many decades, retired, and was replaced by Patricia Givens, a recent graduate from the education department of San Jose University.
Lacking Maltese’s veteran experience, Givens may not have smelled the danger in naming myself the new “feature editor” for The Beacon, the school’s weekly newspaper. Then again, she may have very well intuited the time had come for my sleepy little Ohio Valley hometown to hear from one of its disaffected youth. Either way, Patty was the first, and not the last, to support my aspirations as a smarty-pants writer.
As a feature editor, I authoreda weekly “Ramblings” column that amounted to, what I thought to be, clever commentary. Ms Givens had suggested the name because of my propensity to string four or five unrelated paragraphs together—a habit now long ingrained.
As you might expect from a cynical 18-year-old, “Ramblings” was a snarky, sarcastic take on whatever was either annoying or caught my short attention span at the time. Mentions of Bob Dylan, ideas gleaned from Playboy Magazine articles, and other bits of late-sixties zeitgeist peppered my nascent writing mill.
By Christmas break, Principal Bates had taken notice of my clumsy attempts at humor and let his displeasure be known to Ms. Givens. In her wisdom, we began labeling my column “SATIRE” in very large typeface. This ploy somewhat satisfied school officials for a few more months.
At the same time, labeling “Ramblings” as tongue-in-cheek satire emboldened me to “push the envelope” still further. And so it was that in the Spring of 1967 my high school journalism career was brought to a screeching halt after several of Steubenville’s finest showed up at the principal’s office demanding my audience.
A humorless fellow, Police Chief Mike “The Hammer” Vaccarro, obviously didn’t get my little “joke” about pot being smoked in the boys bathroom. His unannounced visit came in response to calls from parents worried about the “rumor” inspired by my most recent column. Needless to say, Mr. Bates was not amused either and I was dispatched from ever again contributing to The Beacon. No doubt the episode is still etched on my permanent record.
Such are the vicissitudes of the writer’s life that it would take me more than a decade before I’d have a chance at getting published again. And, as before, it was Fortune smiling upon me that produced the opportunity. Only this time, a Hollywood movie starring Warren Beatty interceded rather than the lucky timing of a journalism teacher’s sudden retirement. But that is another story and you must be tired with all this reading.