Columns

2018.01.24 Editors run letters, and a few talk back

By RICH FOLEY 

It was just over a year ago when I last reported on my hobby of writing letters to the editor. At the time, I had subscriptions to 25 different magazines. I was expecting that number to drop by the end of 2017, but somehow it instead ballooned to 31 titles, all but two of them free. 

It seemed almost every time a subscription expired, a different magazine made an offer. As usual, many of the new ones are worth every penny I paid, and not one penny more. Unless they want to pay me, most won’t be renewed.

Last year, I mentioned one magazine subscription which didn’t expire until 2025, with a renewal or two pending. Currently, my expiration date is January, 2042. Actually, that’s the subscription’s expiration date. It would be optimistic to think that both the magazine and I will be around that long, but it’s certainly a good goal for both of us.

As for letters to the editor, my first one for the year appeared in the February 23/March 9 issue of Rolling Stone. I commented on a feature they had published on singer-songwriter John Prine.

 Prine mentioned that he had received several offers to write a book, but he was waiting until he made a career comeback before authoring one. I wrote that I was eagerly awaiting both the comeback and the book.

In April’s Car and Driver, I disagreed with another letter writer who had called for the resignation of editor Eddie Alterman, I thought it was appropriate for the “Ed.” who sometimes answers letters in the magazine to be portrayed by a real live Ed. 

I was rewarded with a answer from “Ed.” himself who remarked “Who is this Alterman guy I keep reading about?” To get a comment from “Ed.” that didn’t make me look like a fool was a definite win. I have another letter submitted for consideration and I have a feeling I may not be so lucky this time. I’ll soon see.

In April, Autoweek magazine ran a photo of a motorcycle on its cover, a move that always stirs up readers who think they should stick to cars. I sent in a letter saying while others might complain about that, I was waiting for their special Amish buggy issue. They ran the letter on May 15 and replied, “Yeah Rich, we’re trying. But they won’t return our emails.” Now that’s funny.

In July, I had a letter published in the motorcycle magazine Rider. They had earlier covered a road trip through British Columbia’s Frasier Valley and published spectacular photos of the scenery. I wrote that since the area is also the setting for the Weather Channel series “Highway Through Hell,” which follows tow truck companies trying to keep the winter roads open, it was nice to see it during the summer instead of being buried in snow.

Mine was the featured letter in the July/August issue of Cigar Aficionado, a pretty neat trick since I’ve never smoked in my life. They have great articles, though, and I commented on an interview they did with “Shark Tank” star Daymond John. They ran my entire letter, then pulled out a couple of key sentences that ran in large type and in color along with my name and hometown below a photo of the issue in question.

In August, I received an email from a researcher at Rolling Stone, informing me that the magazine intended to publish a letter I had recently submitted and asking me to confirm my name and hometown. It was the first time any magazine had followed up on a submission or given me a heads up that they planned to use a letter. Always a first time, I guess.

I provided the requested info and my letter regarding Joe Walsh ran on September 7th. In an earlier issue, Walsh called money, women and partying the worst part of success. I suggested that there are millions of people who wouldn’t mind “problems” like those. But since Gal Gadot was on the issue’s cover, I doubt that anyone even noticed my letter.

My final letter for the year ran in the September edition of Outside magazine, proclaimed on the cover to be ”The Genius Issue.” The very fact that I had a contribution in it is a good reason to call that claim into question. Maybe I’d better stop right there.

That made seven letters for the year, four of them my first time in that particular magazine. If those free subscriptions keep coming, maybe I’ll have more letters to report on next year.