there’s no slack to take up. Truth be told, I don’t think there ever will be.
A sugar daddy? Eleven years of this and I’ve kind of given up the search for Prince Charming.
Some lighter revelations
• We get calls for permission to reprint articles and have a new rule about that now. Subscribers get our written permission, free. Non-subscribers pay $5,000 per page. [See “Weeping at Dinner,” below.]
• We won’t publish obituaries, and rarely note when one of us passes. Let’s not encourage this craze for dying. Cheryl Wade told me recently that she blames Ed Roberts. “He started it,” she said.
• Same deal with the craze for awards. Every freak, monster and maniac on earth deserves one for surviving what Marcuse called our society’s “repressive tolerance” for the terminally different.
• Mouth used to fish for subscribers in (richer) professional ponds. One low response rate was from O.T.s. The lowest rate we ever racked up, though, was from college programs for disabled students. Disabled Student Union organizer Sarah Triano tells me she hears from students that their first Mouth is a “homecoming” — just not the appropriate kind their schools would wish.
• Two disability magazines, Mainstream and Exceptional Parent, wouldn’t rent us their lists. Mainstream didn’t want us fishing in their pond. Fair enough. But Parent said they wouldn’t want families to think that once the kids grew up they’d face a lifelong battle.
New Mobility, Coalition and Ragged Edge, though, have been real friends to the Mouth. As have plenty of non-disabled zines and zine-makers. Color Lines comes to mind. Funny Times is another.
Weeping at dinner
More confessions. Back in June, when I got a chance to visit Chicago, some people I love invited me to dinner. Big thrill because gathered at the table were eight or nine of the people I address myself to, if you know what I mean, when I plan out an issue of Mouth. And all but one of them, I learned when we got talking about what’s up, hadn’t renewed their subscriptions, some of them for years.
Well, I cried, right there at the dinner table. Embarrassed myself completely sobbing, “If you guys don’t subscribe, what are we doing wrong?”
To boil down their answer: turns out they believe, as blessed Emily Wardlow wrote to us some months back, that “there’s got to be a Mouth” but that it will go on somehow without their subscriptions and support.
We hear, “Oh, I look at so-and-so’s copy,” or “I think we get it at the office,” or “I just love your website.”
If we could pay our bills with folks’ good opinions...
Justin Dart (who’s never let his subscription lapse, by the way) wrote recently, “I believe in the Mouth as a powerful and necessary voice in the wilderness for democracy.” Plenty of good magazines disappear in that free market wilderness. You can probably name a couple of good ones yourself.
Ellen Schecter responded to the help, we’re drowning letter with great generosity and a note saying, “What you have published has helped change my image of myself in this world. This is worth millions. Please don’t sink! Swim, fly, rise up, stay proud!”
Another long-time friend was less friendly this time. “Last summer you were thinking of ceasing to publish the Mouth. Now would be a good time.” Others encouraged us to file for bankruptcy. (Sure. I’ll write myself a letter: “This is hard news for all of us, but we can no longer afford to pay you $599 per month or repay your credit cards.”)
One guy wrote back needing “advice on owning and operating a group home.” Our advice: Don’t.
Oops. Now I’ve run on so long there’s no room left to ask for your help. I’m choked. I’ve said enough. You’ve already given so much. Please help us now if you can do it without hurting yourself.
page 44 mouth magazine • we hold these truths