June 15, 2004
In this morning’s staff meeting we went over the critique of the latest issue (July). Two staff members had complained that the Last Stand page is getting too wordy and boring and that the back issues featured at the bottom isn’t working. I decided I would go through my address book and e-mail my media snob, I mean savvy, friends and ask them if they thought Last Stand was boring, or getting too wordy. Here are the answers (I have deleted the names to protect my life).
• “I neither like it nor dislike it—but I can say I wasn't too interested in what was there. I hope that helps.” (I'm just glad he's not the president.)
• “Sadly, I think Last Stand isn't as much fun lately. I like
seeing the covers of the old True Wests, but the summary of their
contents just makes me wistful (or makes me think, ‘Huh—I bet that
one's full of misinformation!’).”
• True West Maniac doesn't go far enough, it seems to me. Get more
“I hate to sound noncommittal, but I have no strong feelings about it—which is to say I liked it both ways. But I did think the last page in the current issue worked—that is, I know people who talked about it and seemed to like it. (He’s from New York, of course.)
• “Personally, I like the look back at earlier issues.” (No, it’s not Marcus Huff.)
“I like it. It adds credibility, history, and an archival base to the magazine. For new readers, it's like looking at an archaeological dig.”
“I think the magazine is more and more readable and fun. Thoroughly entertaining and educational. Who's doing all this negative critiquing? (People in production, of course!)
• “I do read the Last Stand page. Generally, I enjoy the cartoons more than the sound bites. I find the True West quiz worth taking—although I rarely get any correct, I find the answers worth the effort. Perhaps it is age-onset myopia, but I find the font size of the old issues piece too difficult to read and the cover shot too small to appreciate.” (We stopped running the True West quiz six months ago.)
• “I really don't have a quarrel with Last Stand, the last page of True West. I especially like the ‘Looking Back Through Our Heritage’ items, in which old issues of True West are illuminated. It is nice to give earlier writers, publishers, and editors a nod. I remember in a recent issue the death of Walter Prescott Webb in a car accident was mentioned, and I found that interesting. If I did anything, I might expand that section and eliminate one or more of the other parts of the page. But I'm an old fuddy-duddy, and other people may feel reliving the old issues of True West is the least interesting part of Last Stand. There is no accounting for personal taste.
• I have been more or less reading it, but I don’t find it very funny or interesting. There have been in the past some very funny Last Stand pages. As for the old issue at the bottom, No I don’t read it. WHO CARES?? (Too bad he’s one of our major stockholders.)
• “Oh, I don't know if it's not fun anymore, but if space is a premium, it's the first thing I'd get rid of. Looking Back is self-serving, Maniac might be fun, if you are a maniac, but then it's quickly forgotten. Last Stand is a great idea, but it needs to be something that stands out, that the readers want to turn to. Hey, the first thing I read when I pick up a Cowboys & Indians is the back-page Q&A. Witty. Informative. (usually) And SHORT (always). In fact, often it's the only thing I read in C&I. I don't have any suggestions about what to put on the back for True West, though, for what it's worth.” (spoken like a true traitor, and his name rhymes with Bohnny Joggs)
• “I don't see the purpose of the looking back feature at the bottom unless you are trying to sell some old copies or the stories are available online or somewhere people can look them up and read them if interested. Maniac is fine with me but I am not your target reader and doubt there is anyone i want that much info on to do the research and make the trips—but again, that is just me. The page does look a bit type heavy and dense for a parting shots or last stand type header.”
• “Two people? Two people constitutes a pea under the TRUE WEST mattress! Regardless, they're both right. The last page is pretty much worthless from my point of view. When Last Stand was a hodge-podge at least the bad jokes and cracker-barrel jibes were short. And Looking Back—what's the point? What do I learn reading it. Nothing. True West Maniac I've never noticed. (In spite of everything else, it’s always nice to know people are looking closely at our efforts.)
• “I think the Last Stand is fine and I enjoy the old issues. It's good to remind people where True West came from. I appreciate you wanting input from your readers, this is how you make improvements. I plan on joining with the life subscription deal. I really get a kick out of the True West Maniac!” (Mom! Stop it!)
If you can find a consensus out of the above, I will buy you a new Camero. What’s that? They don’t make Camero’s anymore? Dang it, I wanted to buy someone a new car!
“No matter how confused or stupid or unloving other persons may appear to us, we have no right ever to assume that their consciousness is on a lower level than ours. They may be realizing far deeper dimensions of love. The way we see them is an explicit measure of our own vibration level. The very people we now see as vulgar, unenlightened, stupid, rip-offs, insane—these people, when we learn to love them and all our feelings about them, are our tickets to paradise. And that is all we need to do-love them. We may express that love or not as we wish, in any way we wish. It doesn't even matter how we treat them. But we must see them and love them as they are now, for we cannot deny them the freedom to be what they are, just as we must love ourselves as we are now.”
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