Wednesday, November 15, 2023

We Get Mail And Sometimes I Answer. Boy, Do I Ever

 November  15, 2023

   Got this actual letter in the mail yesterday. Yes, I picked it up from the post office and it was in an envelope and everything.

   "First of all, my husband and I look forward to reading the True West magazine. We enjoy most of the stories and love the pictures, too. The last magazine we got was a little disappointing.

   "The To The Point article—A Moving Target— was where we realized the magazine may start deviating from its original format. Well, it's your magazine. Yes, we have been business owners who have come across new hires that claim they have a better plan on how to run (ruin) our business. It's hard to get these people to settle down and do what they were hired to do. Sometimes these new employees learn and turn out to be great later on. Were you ever accused of being an upstart when you first started out in publishing?

   "Your upstart guy, James B. Mills probably didn't like the Quigley Down Under movie either. We loved it. All of the actors were great in their roles and the story line was interesting. Dango Unchained was not a movie we would watch since we don't like Quentin Tarantino's movies. Too much trash language and trash content. Sometimes the best movies indicate, but don't demonstrate the actual trash surrounding the story. That's why we watch the old western movies and television shows.

   "I'm glad your True West cover did not include the alternative cover designs. If you wanted to highlight the movie Django it should have been done as you did Tombstone. The Tombstone cover fit in with True West's past cover designs. Don't deviate from the formula that y'all have managed to preserve."  
—Suzan A. Chapman, Corpus Christi, Texas

   And, here is my reply:

   I received your thoughtful letter yesterday and had to write you back. Yes, I was criticized and pilloried for "changing" True West magazine when we bought it, back in 1999. If I had a nickel for every letter that started with "Joe Small is spinning in his grave. . ." I could buy a small, plastic pony. Of course, Joe started the magazine back in 1953 and by the time we came along, the magazine was all but dead. My first change was to upgrade the paper to slick stock because the magazine was still being printed on pulp! Everyone complained about that ("If it ain't broke, don't fix it" was the advice de jour). Never mind that it was not working anymore. And, I changed the format to go back more to the original since it had wandered off into the weeds. When I interviewed Elizabeth Small (Joe's wife and partner), who was by then in assisted living in Austin, I asked her what happened to the magazine since it had declined so much (from 250,000 newsstand sales per issue down to 6,000) and she said, "The footnote crowd took over." Wow! That is when I knew we had to change and come up with something new about the old stuff we love.
   Which brings me to your complaint about Django and the upstart kid who wrote about one of his favorite movies. We have to change if we are going to survive. It's that simple. We need new blood because my generation is on the way out (I'm 76, soon to be 77). So there is our challenge. Remember this: the more things change, the more they remain the same. And, my favorite history quote, "The past is a foreign country. They do things differently there."

   End of my comments.

"P-P-People try to put us down, just because we get around."
—The Who, My Generation


  1. Anonymous9:09 AM

    True West (AZ Highways, Outside) is about the only 'zine that I read cover to cover.

  2. Anonymous12:40 PM

    Keep up the good work!

  3. I've been in the restaurant industry for 30 years and in all that time I've never had a customer tell me an idea for an entrée we ever used. It's because customers are selfish, they only think about what they like. As a restaurant owner I have to appeal to more than one person. I imagine the same is true for True West. Keep up the great work ( I love the MAJORITY of what you do-LOL).

  4. Anonymous4:58 AM

    As time passes… today becomes history.
    We either move or die. The West we love is still there but we know (now) about all there is about any multitude of things and people.
    I for one have a great interest in the west of the 1910s to the late 1930s.
    I think the magazine is heading right where it should and is doing a fantastic job of it!
    So as Jerry Jeff Walker sang” the man in the big hat is buying”!
    So … TripleB .. I will belly up to the bar for one more round.
    You my friend are tending bar very well!!’


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