Friday, May 28, 2004

May 28, 2004
They were putting speed bumps on our new pavement this morning, so at 7:30 I had to drive my pickup up past the construction site and park there so I wouldn’t get trapped. As I walked back past the site, a big pot-bellied guy was standing in the center of the road talking into a cell phone. As I walked by, this is what I heard: “No, dammit, you turned too early. I said take Scottsdale Road all the way north into Carefree. No, it’s the same road, it says Tom Darlington, but it’s still Scottsdale Road. Turn around. You didn’t go far enough.”

Believe it or not, I actually worked several summers on road construction for the Arizona Highway Department (1967-69) and if you are ever on I-40 east of Kingman and you feel a bad vibration in your tires, that’s the stretch I worked on. But, anyway, what did we do before cell phones? The foreman on the speed bump job was obviously talking to the asphalt guy who was lost and guiding him to the site. Many times in the old days, the loads never showed, you’d wait around all morning, pack up and finally go back into the office and the driver would shrug, “Where were you? I couldn’t find you!”

Not anymore. You can screw up but you can’t hide.

Last week Samantha received a call from Juanita Ashburn in North Caroline who had just bought her very first issue of True West at Bookland in the local mall. Juanita told Sam (we call her Sam) she had never seen the magazine before and when she got it home and showed it to her husband Paul, he devoured it. Then she devoured it. They loved it. She asked Sam about a one year subscription. “We just started a new special that’s not up on the web or in our magazine yet,” Sam told Juanita. “If you sign up now you’ll get a lifetime subscription and be our very first True West Maniac member.” When Juanita found out the price ($149) she said she wanted to talk with her husband (you have to admit $29 to $149 is a bit of a price spread ). Several hours later she called back and Sam explained the deal to Paul, who was quiet for some time. Sam finally asked, “Is anything wrong?” And Paul said, “It’s just too good to be true.” Sam laughed and assured him we are on the level. Paul signed up and recommended we put his wife in for the subscription because “she’ll probably outlive me.” Sam did just that and signed her up and Juanita Ashburn from North Caroline is now Charter Member Number One of the True West Maniac Club! We’re going to run her happy little picture in the next issue.

Better hurry, there’s only 970 charter memberships left.

Speaking of a new issue, if you’re a subscriber you’ll be getting the new True West (July) in the next several days. We got our office copies yesterday and it has the best graphic mix in a long time. We have been so crunched for space, and because ad sales were down (seasonal) we had a little more room to stretch out, and it really shows. A six-page feature on the Tap Duncan Diamond Bar Ranch by Tom Carpenter looks mighty fine. Big photos, stretching across two pages. Really sweet stuff. Big, juicy photos just the way our publisher Bob McCubbin likes to see ‘em.

I took the production crew and Meghan S. to lunch at El Encanto today to critique the issue and work out design bugs. Robert R., Abby P. and Gus W. joined us and we debated every page, going over the reasons for decisions and more importantly, did we make the right ones. One of the problems we have is when there is lousy art to go with an article. This month’s Women of the West was about three gals named Charlie who passed as men. We all agreed the art (a bad line drawing and a photo of a historic marker) was way weak, but in the process of talking about how we could have made it better, someone came up with the idea of tripling the line drawing, so a least you would have some new way of looking at the same old tired image, and it matches the theme of the article better. Even though it is too late to save that article, it’s thinking like this that will save future articles, and that one leap of imagination, inspired by Meghan, was worth the entire lunch ($51 includes tip, TW account). I had the salmon quesadilla lunch special ($7.95) and we sat out by the lagoon. Very productive meeting. Always feels good.

Worked until 6:40, did some good drawings at my new desk, caught up on stuff. Kathy is over at her mother's for a pre-birthday party get together. Her brother Don flew in from Kansas and they've got a big Radina pow-wow going on.

“The smallest deed is better than the grandest intention.”
—Old Vaquero Saying

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