Columns

2017.01.18 Audience for my rants continues to expand

By RICH FOLEY

I know I’ve written before about accepting free magazine subscriptions from an online source. It’s a bad habit because I usually learn that most of the magazines are overpriced even when free. There’s some that I like, but the numbers are dwindling.

Recently, I made a list of the magazines I’ve received over the last eight or ten years and the number totaled over 50 titles. Not all at once, obviously. But I’m currently getting more than 20, which sometimes taxes the capacity of my post office box when six or seven arrive the same day.

It doesn’t take as long to deal with that many magazines as you might think as some take only a minute or two of my time before finding their way to the recycling pile. By the end of this year, I will have only eight or nine subscriptions remaining, which will probably please the postal service.

One magazine which occasionally has something of interest makes frequent offers for a subscription renewal. I’m currently set until 2025, but am waiting for a couple of recent extensions to be reflected on my address label. If nothing else, I have the challenge to try and outlive the subscription.

A disturbing trend is how many magazines no longer run letters to the editor. I’m not sure if it’s because of the smaller page counts most magazines are dealing with, or simply a lack of interesting letters to publish. I devoted part of 2016 trying to help those editors in need of letters, although some subscribers might wish I’d simply keep my thoughts to myself.

My first letter of the year (actually it ran in a December 2015 issue) appeared in Rolling Stone. They had published a feature on ZZ Top’s Billy Gibbons and I wrote a letter concerning Billy and his old pal, psychedelic rock cult figure Roky Erickson. I could probably write an entire column about Roky and someday, I just might.

Next was a letter to Outdoor Life magazine which made it into their January/February 2016 edition. Considering the fact that I’ve never hunted or fished in my life, that was an interesting accomplishment. One of their writers mentioned the “fact” that hunters in Michigan had been driving north since the 1940s to line up and wait to cross the Mackinac Bridge to hunt in the Upper Peninsula.

My letter said that it must have been a long wait since the bridge didn’t even open until 1957. I later looked up the writer online and found he had been recently named to some sort of outdoor writers hall of fame. Apparently, historical accuracy wasn’t among the requirements.

In June, I pointed out in Sports Illustrated that their article claiming that NASCAR had a “woman problem,” due to lack of women in behind-the-scenes roles, had totally ignored the presence of Jennifer Jo Cobb who has spent many years in the Truck Series as both driver and team owner. At least SI ran her photo with my letter.

I’m sure I didn’t make any friends at Lexus with my letter in Automobile Magazine’s August issue. Automobile’s design editor had written in June that the grille of the Lexus LC 500 resembled an electric shaver. I wrote that since I had thought it resembled the cowcatcher of an oncoming Civil War-era locomotive, I appreciated their setting me straight. I think Lexus won’t be offering to loan me one for a test drive. 

A photo of comedian/actress Amy Schumer on the cover of the August issue of Marie Claire magazine tempted me to actually buy a copy. Even though there’s no chance I fit their target reader demographics in any way, I sent in a letter about the Schumer interview. Amazingly, it appeared in the October issue. Maybe I was their token male reader for the month.

I ended the year with a letter in the December/January issue of Road & Track. Former auto company executive Bob Lutz, who writes a column hilariously titled “Go Lutz Yourself,” had written earlier that we were undergoing a “terminal trend away from cars to crossovers.” My letter said that was a depressing thought I hoped I wouldn’t ever see become reality. 

I’ve already got four more letters sent off to various magazines so far this year, including one I’ve never been published in before. At least it keeps me busy while I’m waiting for some of those other subscriptions to expire.