It's no secret times are tough for traditional publishers, whether you're talking newspapers, books or magazines. Still this headline from Rolling Stone hit me like a bolt out of the blue:
‘Mad Magazine’ Is Effectively Shutting Down
Classic humor publication will cease printing new content this fall
Holy Alfred E. Neuman, Batman -- say it ain't so.
Like many other Baby Boomers, and admirers from other generations, Mad Magazine was a staple when I grew up. Whether it was the latest satire on a TV show or movie, or another episode of "Spy vs. Spy," I couldn't wait for the next issue.
It even inspired my own half-baked attempts at writing humor, including a cartoon I created for which I was particularly proud. So proud, I cajoled my parents for a stamp and envelope so I could submit to the Mad editors for their consideration.
While drawing is not my thing, I thought they would go for the obviously clever premise. At that time, Japanese monster movies -- like "Godzilla" and "Rodan" -- were all the rage. So I came up with this six-panel cartoon depicting a giant egg in a cave. As the natives look on, the egg begins to crack. In each panel, the crack gets bigger, until finally, in the last panel, it bursts open and this giant yolk flows out instead of a menacing beast.
Well, some weeks later a letter arrived bearing the "Mad" logo. I could hardly contain my excitement!
Opening it with trembling hands, the very first sentence said simply, "You've been rejected."
Like all great and would-be great and might-never-be great writers, I finally came to terms that rejection letters are part of the process.
But it didn't stop me from continuing to buy the magazine. In fact, I kept that letter as inspiration for many, many years, until it got lost in one of our moves.
Mad got its start in 1952, and reached its peak circulation of two million in 1974. While I bemoan its fate, I have to admit my own guilt: I haven't bought a copy in many years. And that's how magazines go out of business.
RELATED: Riding the Rails: Taking the Amtrak from West Palm to New York
When we need to get to New York, and it's not a rush, our first choice is Amtrak. Which surprises most people, and even shocks a few.
"You can do that?" they ask. "I had no idea. But why would you want to?"
Why indeed. It's definitely slower -- around 25 hours from the West Palm Beach station, if all goes smooth (and it usually doesn't). It's more expensive. Get a sleeper and you could pay as much as two or three times what a flight would cost.
For us, there are several reasons:
Many years ago, we had our first big train adventure. Amtrak was running a special promotion -- unlimited travel between three designated zones across the country. We thought, why not? So we booked travel that took us from Fort Worth, Texas to Chicago; Chicago to Los Angeles on the Southwest Chief; Los Angeles to Seattle on the Coast Starlight; Seattle to Chicago on the Empire Builder, then back to Fort Worth. We covered some 8,500 miles in two weeks. We were hooked.
Later this year, we are scheduled for another "big train adventure." Stay tuned for that one.
We are the first to admit train travel isn't for everyone. You have to have a lot of patience, and time. The sleepers are adequate, but don't expect a hotel room. The close quarters could trigger a little claustrophobia, but nothing like being squeezed onto a jet. And for the "slow" factor -- couldn't you say the same thing about driving a car cross country?
Let's face it: If you travel , there are going to be glitches, whether by car, bus, train or plane. Try to relax and as our boy Steve Winwood says, "roll with it, baby."
Yes, I know it's spelled like "Jerry." No, I don't know why it's pronounced "Gary."