Wednesday, September 19, 2007


I was about 18 when I hauled up the courage to contact Syracuse Magazine, "Magazine of the Good Life in Central New York," assuming from the start the impossibility that this regional publication about dining, travel and other pursuits of the masses would entertain the slightest proposal for an article about UFOs. As a teenager, I had already been hammered multiple times by various editors of national publications who couldn't help but find my early articles or ideas unusable. Can you even imagine the load of crap editors receive from freelance writers of little or no talent every day?

This time, somewhat secure as a successful newspaper letter-to-the-editor contributor (!) for almost two years, I was ready for the big time, and at this point in 1967 simply collecting letters of rejection served as an endorsement of perseverance. How surprised I was, then, when the magazine's editor, Marilyn Dietz, responded that she liked my idea for an article about UFO sightings in NY State.

The late Ms. Dietz, chronically ill much of her life, was praised particularly for her community work with the elderly and disabled, so her interest in publishing a UFO article in the mainstream Syracuse Magazine really floored me. But after several delays, my article, "Unidentified Flying 'Somethings' Over New York: A Look at the Past," saw print in the Third Quarter, 1967 issue. For visuals, I included two famous UFO photos, and even though the captions were inadvertently switched on each by the time of publication, that flaw was easily overshadowed for me by this literary accomplishment of sorts.

Apparently, the readership offered a positive response, because when I asked Marilyn about writing another piece she was overwhelmingly for it. Unfortunately, a series of disagreements with her publisher about various matters precluded a second article, and in fact the magazine eventually faltered and was resuscitated through a weak succession of revivals by other companies in years to come until it no longer resembled its origins.

Forty years later, fondly remembering my first magazine article, certainly nothing of Pulitzer quality (I haven't provided a complete or clearly readable copy here, as the content is really irrelevant at this point), what sticks with me most is the fact that they printed Syracuse on glossy paper. Of all the national magazines and other more far-reaching publications I've written for, these old issues remain the ones printed on the best quality paper, the glossy pages once standard for many newsstand magazines, and as the other magazines' pages continue to yellow and fade, Syracuse Magazine issues look as fresh as if they were printed last week. It's really strange to ponder that they'll be the only ones left one day after all the others turn to dust. I wonder if taxidermists preserve magazines, too?