Friday, February 21, 2003

February 21, 2003
Wrestling with masthead issues. One of our key people is quite upset about his new title and position in the staff box. We are changing it on the next issue to comply with his wishes. I have memories of being on the other side of the table. When I was “Visuals Editor” at New Times back in the seventies, the editor, Mike Lacey, hired someone (I can’t even remember who) and put them above me in the masthead. I was livid. I marched into his office and he and I screamed at each other for about a half hour. I took my case to the publisher, Jim Larkin, and threatened to quit. They ultimately changed it and gave me my rightful position on the masthead. But I noticed in the next issue, Jim Larkin put his name at the very bottom of the masthead (it has remained there to this day). It was a telling move. He essentially told me and everyone else, “These are just titles, lines on paper. I know what my true value is here and I’m so confident I’ll put it at the bottom.” It was a class move and I have always admired him for it. I, on the other hand, am not that mature.

I met Whitey Brayer yesterday at the Rotary lunch. Whitey’s TV was a major business in the Valley after WW II (he still has a video business at the same location, 19th St. and McDowell). Whitey told me about how he had the first TV in Arizona back in 1947. Remembering how we brought our TV out from Iowa in 1956 and couldn’t get any stations until the next year when a relay station was installed in the Hualapai Mountains south of Kingman, I said, “Whitey, what did you watch?” He smiled and told me the story about how he had a TV in his showroom and it was playing shows from Texas and back east. The conventional wisdom at that time was that TV signals only went about thirty miles. The news media and everyone in town thought it was fake and that he had a camera or film projector in the back of the set. After all, there were no TV stations in the state of Arizona at that time. Electricians and media barons would come in the store and demand to see the back of the set and he would take it off and they would see it was just tubes. Still, no one believed him. How could it be? “How’d you do it Whitey?” I asked him. Whitey smiled like the fox he is and said, “I was in the signal corp in WW II and I knew the guy who created the communications for the pacific fleet. The generals needed to be in constant communication with Washington and they discovered these waves that bounced (he had a more technical name for this but I don’t remember it) and I got it thru the Library of Congress for $1, bought the necessary equipment and used it on my TV in the store. I was picking up programming from Oklahoma and it hit the news media there and the station said it couldn’t be, so I called ‘em and said, ‘Here’s what is playing on your station right now,’ and they were dumbfounded. That’s how I did it.” Great story. I love oldtimers and their stories. It gives me much needed training for when I’m an old fart (in about six months).

Every gain made by individuals or society is almost instantly taken for granted.”
—Aldous Huxley

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