When The Talents Of Good Writers And Editors Help Bring You The Stories Worth Reading
When we came to Florida and this magazine 46 short years ago, we did not quite know what to do with a magazine that was obviously geared toward women, especially the advertising content. We were coming from Philadelphia magazine, which had evolved from a business publication, and had an audience that was overwhelmingly male.
But one thing we knew. We had two writers in our original investment group, former Philly mag colleagues Gaeton Fonzi and Charles MacNamara, who could produce on short notice stories that anybody would read, regardless of sex, country of origin or anything else. It did not matter if it dealt with the mating habits of apes in captivity (a MacNamara subject), or Gaeton Fonzi's childhood fantasy about leaving West New York, New Jersey, and crossing the broad Hudson River to join Joe DiMaggio in a New York Yankees uniform. We just knew it would be good. And we knew editing would be a lark, without having to worry about spelling or minute fact -checking.
We counted on those talents for several decades. But both men belong to the ages now, and as they departed it has not been easy to find replacements. But we found at least one. Normally we would chuckle at the idea of a story on a truck stop for a magazine that also featured luxury homes, yachts and airplanes. But not when the writer is Eric Barton.
In that context we remember our old, and also late, Philadelphia editor. Alan Halpern trusted writers—at least those he really trusted—and when you wanted to write something that seemed offbeat, he usually gave the green light without bothering to slow for yellow. Such stories helped propel that magazine to national prominence and, in the process, invent the regional magazine genre.
Managing editor Heather Carney never knew Alan Halpern, but she thinks the same way, and she did not even bother to ask our opinion when Barton proposed his 18-wheeler business/lifestyle feature. If you don't like it, we'll have one of the boys run you off the road.
This issue also has a serious fun side—the special section devoted to concerts, which have become increasingly popular in South Florida, and which draw thousands of mostly young people to hear rock stars and country music legends. Those artists seem to enjoy the visit as much as the fans, playing before audiences on our beaches or close to the water.
These events arrive at a time when there is a developing nostalgia for that annual bacchanal we used to call spring break. We discuss that era on McCormick Place, and we can't avoid the irony that a section of the country that once discouraged thousands of young people to come to our shores, is now doing just the opposite.
“What you win in Boston, you lose in Chicago,” Hemingway wrote.