The Corona virus appears, when least expected, In this case in my memories of my first “real” job now 50 years ago. “O tempora! O mores!” as that old windbag Cicero once exclaimed.
Afterward: For more on how Scanlan’s Monthly in June 1970 failed to disrupt that august race try as it might to disrupt the derby as effectively as Covid-19 already has, please six years ago, I published this account of my eight month career at Scanlan’s because I badly needed to raise money to attend my younger daughter Amelia Altalena’s wedding where I “gave away the bride.” This posting below was a gimmick to sell my complete set of Scanlan’s Monthly.Had I not loved my daughter so, I might have waited forever before parting for $480 with this memory of what I had done when I was 23– now 50 years ago.
Think twice about Germany. From my personal collection.
Why this posting is being published before completion:
- To await the references from William Gillis, editor The American Historian, to arrive by U.S. mail. Gillis is the author of a brilliant paper on Scanlan’s Monthly written as a graduate student at E.W. Scripps School of Journalism. Here is a link to the paper presented at the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication in Toronto, Canada, August: 2004. http://list.msu.edu/cgi-bin/wa?A2=ind0411a&L=aejmc&P=46716
- To acknowledge that without Gillis’s paper giving my 8 issue service at Scanlan’s a patina of respectability, I would not have had the courage to write let alone publish this work in progress.
- To sell a complete set on Scanlan’s on e-Bay or to the highest bidder, preferably a well-healed university. Gillis says it is difficult now for scholars to read the publication. [Scholars!]
- To entice Ralph Steadman to send me the original drawings of his work that appeared in Scanlan’s. Most especially, this one which I saw him create at the editorial offices above a bar in the then seedy section of Times Square.
Scanned from my personal collection
- [Query: How do I get this to read 7 instead of 1?] As a kindly suggestion for Chanukah / Christmas presents to suggest purchasing children’s book and not-for-children art as gifts while the British pound is weak and the dollar strong: http://www.ralphsteadman.com/
- To locate J.C. Suares whose work at Scanlan’s prepared for the creation with David Schneiderman of the op-ed page of The New York Times.
- To express appreciation to Warren Hinckle III [http://www.argonaut360.com/] not only for having shared with him months of near-lunacy [near?] but appreciation for his work at Rampart’s which convinced Martin Luther King, Jr. to denounce the War in Vietnam.
- [Query: How do I get this to read 9 instead of 1?] To allow frequent site contributor Hadley Baxendale to make a pre-publication comment to this prematurely published posting.
- To convince my skeptical webmaster and friend Kathy Forer I really did work for a publication that PAID for advertising
- To insert a permalink in my published, incomplete, and out of control posting on ENRIQUE IGLESIAS https://joelsolkoff.com/enrique-iglesias-plucks-an-adoring-fan-from-the-audience-sings-with-her-on-stage-as-she-and-he-take-cell-phone-photos/
My first “real” job: Scanlan’s Monthly 1971 [NOT for minors]
Working at Scanlan’s was one of the weirdest experiences of my life
The advertisement that begins this posting is a good example of what I mean by weird:
This is the back cover of the second issue of Scanlan’s Monthly where in 1970 I worked on the editorial staff after having been hired at the downstairs bar of Sardi’s Restaurant.
This is the upstairs bar at Sardi’s:
Sardi’s Restaurant is located on West 44th Street in the Times Square neighborhood of Manhattan. Founded in 1927, Sardi’s is across from the center of the theater district.
The restaurant appears regularly in films showing Broadway producers, playwrights, and actors celebrating or bemoaning the first performance of a play. Generally, the scene includes an out loud reading of a review from The New York Times, a review that either made or broke the play. [Note: the offices of The New York Times are around the corner; Clive Barnes then its theater critic was a bar regular.]
Working out of bars in fancy New York City restaurants was an essential part of my first real job after graduating from Columbia College. [Many years later President Barack Obama received his bachelor’s degree from Columbia.]
I was 21 years old, having majored in Medieval European History without a salable skill to my name except the bravado to convince the magazine’s already notorious editors to hire me.
This was regarded as a dream job for any journalism school graduate. Only I was not a journalism graduate and had no formal training. As it would turn out, now that I am weeks away from my 67th birthday, I had no formal training to do any of the jobs that punctuated my career including:
- Writing a speech for a controversial President of Lebanon who was literally blown up before he was able to deliver it
- Publishing a book on food policy read by the most influential Secretary of Agriculture in my lifetime with whom I became telephone buddies after he was forced to resign from office in disgrace
- Working on a report on the M1 tank for Congress’ General Accountability Office
- Serving as a political appointee in the Carter Administration in a job requiring extensive security clearance and confirmation by the U.S. Senate
- Designing on-line documentation for startup companies in the Silicon Valley of California describing how to use a software product when the software had not yet been completed
My first task of the day was to report to my boss the late Sidney Zion, co-editor of Scanlan’s Monthly. Instead of going to the magazine’s office, located between Broadway and Seventh Avenue, I got off the subway at Eighth Avenue and climbed the steps to the bar. Sidney appeared, first thing in the morning (11 A.M.) for his first scotch on the rocks.
Sidney, formerly a legal reporter for The New York Times, was my boss because only he was allowed to write checks.
Sidney’s co-editor Warren Hinckle, III, who had turned Rampart’s Magazine from a Catholic school publication into the Bible of the 1960s counterculture, was so notoriously a spendthrift he had to ask Sidney to write checks for his many expensive story ideas and ventures.
Warren was the most brilliant editor I ever worked for. (I have worked with many brilliant editors). With rare often disquieting exceptions, Sidney did little work.
Warren ran the magazine. Running the magazine was often a complicated affair because Warren lived in San Francisco where he had an office and staff —flying into New York once a week. My first experience with a FAX was the now primitive contraption that tied the two offices together sending editorial material and nonsense back and forth from coast to coast.
Let us start with the advertisement that begins this posting: Think twice about Germany. The third issue of Scanlan’s, for which I co-authored with Warren the cover story on Russian Pornography, had an editorial “THAT LUFTHANSA AD.”
The editors explained:
“Since Scanlan’s charges money to print letters to the editor (write us a letter and we’ll send you the rates), we make things more or less even by buying advertising. Our back cover last month carried an ad for Lufthansa, the German airlines—but not from Lufthansa.
“Some ads we buy because the editors like them and think they make interesting reading….Other ads we buy for other reasons, as you will see. One such ad appeared last month on our back cover. And for that story we take you to Advertising Age, the weekly newspaper of the advertising industry.
“NEW YORK, April 1—Second thoughts about the new Lufthansa German Airlines’ ad theme, ‘Think twice about Germany,’ appears to be in order.
“Scanlan’s Monthly’s April issue carries what at first glance appears to be a Lufthansa ad, but at second glance turns out to be a doctored version.
“The back cover ad of Scanlan’s substitutes two photos for the gemuelich scenes carried in the original Lufthansa ad, by D’Arcey Advertising. One of the pictures in the spurious ad shows a nude woman, hands bound behind her, about to be thrashed by a soldier while a cameraman records the scene. The second picture shows Wehrmacht officers giving the ‘Heil, Hitler’ salute.”
Thus endeth the editorial.
Subsequent Ad Age reports, read by the Scanlan’s staff avidly, reported the agency pulled its expensive campaign, one executive complaining about Scanlan’s “They did not even bother to show it to us first.”
A lasting consequence of Warren and Sidney’s stunt is today all advertising contains a copyright line, not then considered necessary because no publication ever had the effrontery to BUY advertising.
After revealing one of my first tasks on the job was to deliver by hand the check to the man who doctored the ad, the best way to proceed is to show how buying ads was possible.
What follows are photographs of the covers of each of the eight monthly magazines (with short descriptions of each) Scanlan’s produced before it went bankrupt and I was left unemployed.
Scanlan’s Monthly 3, May 1970, from my personal collection
Table of Contents
Copyright 2014 by Joel Solkoff. All rights reserved. As for the copyright status of bankrupt Scanlan's Monthly itself, the author welcomes comments from well-credentialed copyright attorneys.