My doctor won’t tell me but I think I’m coming down with a bad case of hypochondria. It’s a particularly troublesome strain of the virus that endangers magazine editors.
This is how it works: You happen to overhear some random shred of criticism and suddenly you’re stricken. Then arrive the dark, roiling clouds of doubt, and misery fills the skies along with blaring horns of the apocalypse.
The other day I heard — second-hand, perhaps, but that was enough — that a local resident said that this magazine was “too negative.”
I thought, “We are? This journalistic ray of sunshine?” I fretted for days. Then I remembered a conversation I had a couple years ago with an esteemed lady of the design world here in town; she had buttonholed me at a party and told me to be brave and make this magazine very, very serious.
Ack. So last month I was very honored to receive the annual award for Best Column presented by the Connecticut Press Club, and at first I was enormously proud, if not extravagently tickled, because these were for “serious” columns about matters such as bipolar kids and A.D.D. in adults. But now I realize they were only trying to talk me in off the window ledge.
In this issue we introduce you to a famed magazine personage who probably enjoyed better immunity to Editor’s Hypochondria, and that is Robert Stein, who penned for us the remembrance of Truman Capote on page 62. In another era, Robert was famed as the editor of McCall’s magazine, when it enjoyed a 14 million circulation and considerable national influence. Was it a fluffy periodical? Not at all. On the walls of Stein’s Weston home are photos of him with Presidents Kennedy and Johnson. Then over here is a portrait of Martin Luther King Jr. and his family taken in a woodsy glade. “Oh, that,” says Robert. “We did the first serious magazine profile of him done in America.”
In the future, whenever I feel I’ve got to deal with readers with divergent opinions, I’ll remember Mr. Stein’s story about the day he was dealing with simultaneous phone calls: On Line 1 was Rose Kennedy, mother of JFK, who was calling up about some family photographs; on Line 2, responding to an interview request, was Marguerite Oswald, the mother of Lee Harvey Oswald. “So I had to interupt my conversation with Kennedy’s mother to talk with the mother of Kennedy’s killer.” Talk about having issues.
Well, we’ve all got issues. And in this issue we’ve got guides to fun and we’ve got matters of substance, too. You need the fun getaway stuff to get your mind off the increasingly obnoxious world-situation stuff.
I’m going to ask the corner deli to make a sandwich in my honor. Let’s just call it weltschmerz on wry.