May 13, 2014
I rarely write about myself as a publisher. Mostly due to the mystique of working behind the velvet curtain and not letting anyone see the work that is put together, and to be perfectly honest, I do not know exactly what the hell is the proper way of being a publisher. For me, it started off as Show N’ Tell at elementary school. As young students, we were asked to bring something from home to show and present to our class. Most people brought their favorite object of some sort. It could be a doll, from a girl or a toy truck from a boy (very gender specific in those days). A lot of times it can be something personal like a watercolor painting or an ashtray made by dried macaroni and then usually painted either gold or silver. What I brought to the classroom was for me the most important item, or publication in my existence at that time - TV Guide.
Although I wasn’t really allowed to watch a lot of TV at home, except when I stayed with my grandparents over the weekend, where it was TV viewing non-stop, from early morning to late afternoon, following a break where I go outside to run, walk or play, and then back to the TV set for more intense viewing till bedtime. I would like to say that I learned to read at a young age from looking at my parents large library of books, or an interest in children’s literature at the time, but the truth is the main source of reading was the weekly TV Guide.
I would get the TV guide on a Sunday morning, and with a color pen, mark all the shows I wanted to watch that week. My hobby was a strange one, since I mentioned I couldn’t watch a lot of TV shows at home, I pretended to, and basically there are shows that I never seen, but nevertheless I read about them and marked it off on the Guide as seeing them. So, I had an imaginative version of a lot of shows, but only the one’s that were shown on a regular basis from Monday to Friday. The weekend was real-time watching from Saturday morning to Sunday night. Bear in mind this is before cable or streaming, or even VHS taping. If I wanted to watch a show I had to be there on time and in front of a set. Occasionally I had to go to a party with my family or there maybe a family gathering over the weekend, which spelled out death to me. The one thought in my mind was that I was missing an episode of a certain show. “Johnny Quest” comes to mind a show that I was devoted to, and it was rare to have an animated show playing in the evening. But I remember we had to leave the house for some unimportant reason (to me at least) and I had almost a panic attack thinking that I was missing that episode. Luckily, over the summer they repeated a lot of shows, so if I blew this one, I more likely can see it three or four months later.
I would wake up in the morning early to study the TV Guide. With a pen in my hand, I would read each description of every show. Even shows I have no interest in, I just wanted to make sure I covered the waterfront as one would say in my favorite song. I was deeply concerned with programming that started around 11 PM, because I was forced to go to bed at that hour. I would lie awake in bed, thinking what I was missing on the TV set. Mostly films, but they always sounded interesting to me. One time I remember seeing Howard Hawk’s “The Big Sleep” on Channel 5 at 9:00 P.M. My family was big cinema goers and sometimes they would take me as well. But to be honest I rather watch a movie on TV, with the commercials running through it. At the time it was hard for me to pay attention to a whole film being played without interruption, because I felt my mind was going to different places, and watching a commercial was like reading a book and waiting for the end of the sentence or the paragraph break. Also the description in the Guide was great: “
Bear in mind that, I never collected TV Guide. Once the week was over, I would throw it away, even though I wrote detailed notes or footnotes at the bottom of the page, regarding a show that I would have an interest in seeing. Also as a literary style, I was very much taken by the caption description of specific episodes. There was something very zen-like at times. For example, here’s “Gomer Pile, USMC.”
“Sargent Carter’s sister tells him she’s getting married - but Carter doesn’t approve of his future bother-in-law. Gomer: Jim Nabors. Carter: Frank Sutton. Colonel: Forrest Compton. Then there will be a separate paragraph giving credits to the Guest Cast. Babe Carter - Marlyn Mason. Kanobly - Bill Idelson. Then oddly enough there is a separate line after that saying “actor Bill Idelson co-authored the script.” For me being a young cineaste or TV-fan, this was priceless information.
As I approached my teenage years, I got more interested in literature, which eventually leads me to publish. Nevertheless, the first work on paper that made an impression on me was for sure TV Guide. My first interest in writing was hoping that somehow I could get a job writing plot caption in the publication. It was incomprehensible to me that these writers were never known, and in a way it is a lost art form or literature that no one cares about - except me of course.