I am writing this letter to inform you that our relationship is on the verge of coming to an end.
It’s not me, it’s you.
My courtship started late last year, November most likely. I found a link to your website and an offer from you to name my price for a subscription. I was excited for this new way into a subscription service. I felt like this could be an opportunity for other magazines to follow especially since most magazines make their money on ads rather than subscriptions.
2007 was a slow year for music. As I stumbled upon your offer and website, I felt that potentially you would be an open door for new music and other fine arts. Though small, there was a small excitement building in anticipation of your arrival in my mailbox soon. I hadn’t had a subscription to any magazines for a while and thought it would be a good change of pace, a little light reading for down times or restroom breaks. And best of all, I set my own price, $5. Yep, that’s right, a full year’s subscription for less than a Super-sized number three (plain Quarter Pounder, with cheese only) at McDonalds.
I know $5 dollars seems a little low. On one hand, I didn’t want you to feel cheap or cheated but on the other hand I wanted a deal. And since I had never had the opportunity to flip your pages, I really didn’t know how much you were worth. So I placed my $5 order and smiled when it was accepted.
Then I waited.
Christmas came and went and you chose not to arrive. I justified your absence to myself by thinking that I ordered late in the month and missed the December cycle since most magazines go out a month ahead of time.
I thought about you a few times in January. Not regularly but every few days as I’d traipse down the driveway I’d think, ‘maybe this is the day.’ Then again, maybe not. January brought many things: cold weather, milestones for C, new work and other fun. But no Paste. You never came.
Honestly, I forgot about you. About the $5 you took from me in November. I guess at some point I came to the conclusion that you were offended by my low ball offer and just chose to avoid my postal route. But then you came. A week or two into February. I don’t remember the date, I’m sorry. But I do remember you coming. With your clinched fist, solid typography, good use of color, and subtle layering of 100’s of names of film stars on the cover brought back the feeling of excitement I had in November. You hadn’t forgotten my house and you hadn’t been offended by my $5 deposit in your bank account, you were just waiting for the right moment to enter my life.
So I brought you in and took a few minutes to do a rough flip through your pages. I wanted to get an idea of what you were about. I read your letter from the editor. I looked your over your table of contents, I figured out you were from Georgia, I spent time studying the quality fonts you used and how you went about placing them.
Then I pulled out your CD Sampler. That’s right, you came with a free CD. 20 songs. All different artists and most of which I had never heard of. February Paste, you were good to me. I even read pretty quickly that you were glad to be back because you do a combined December/January issue, thus not missing the first issue of the year.
I moved you soon to the master bath. Shelved you on top of the Travel & Leisure magazine (second subscription to a magazine about the same time as you, not by choice). I would return. And I did, daily. I read your articles on movies, on music, your suggestions on new toys and websites to visit, and I skipped your pages on books. No offense. I took your ratings into my thought on whether or not I would follow up on the web for a new artist. As most relationships do, ours started out well.
Then March came. And you came with Michael Jackson’s glove on the cover. Ouch. Strike one. That hurt. But I accepted you in my house still, and you found your spot in the master bath as well. I flipped through you pretty quickly, reading first the letter from editor and his notes on how much they changed this month. New layouts, colors, articles, fonts, and even doing away with your rating system for music, movies, books and anything else people might want a recommendation for before spending their hard earned money.
And March Paste, you hurt me. Not only with the changes but with a semi-painful review of an artist and album that I thought was decent. No, it wasn’t his best work but you gave it very little chance to succeed in the public eye. Yes you, you with the rhinestone covered glove on your cover.
My third round with you brought a decent cover article on Gnarles Barkley. I read it, wasn’t blown away but was mildly entertained. You introduced me to She & Him. Thank you. Other than that, nothing really stands out.
Paste: May came, graced by an artist that I had gotten into recently. It was more of an essay. You let him write the cover story himself. And it was pretty lame. And you know what else was lame? In one magazine, I found the word juxtaposition in at least 4 different places. Maybe five. Really? Juxtaposition? More than once?
I started to figure you out, Paste. You know who you are, you’re one of those guys. You sit in the local coffee shop and snarl when somebody unfamiliar comes in. You were one of those black turtleneck and black glasses people in the speakeasy’s that would snap his fingers for approval of a poet sharing his new work on the stage. You are a borderline elitist. You want to use big words and act like you are ahead of the crowd. You want to be different. I went to school with you. I saw you in college. I had hoped that by this time in our lives you were past that. But Paste, you certainly aren’t.
June’s cover threw me for a loop. Always promoting quirky films and art, I would have never guessed you for Scarlett Johanssen fans. But I guess you felt you would save face by tying her into Bob Dylan, Barack Obama and Tom Waits. It didn’t work. I shelved you completely. Not even skimming the majority of the magazine until the July issue showed up and I felt bad.
Which gets us to the current day. Sadly, I have quit listening to your CD’s. Each month you send me between 20-40 tracks and I thought I would love them. I now know why they’re free. It’s not good music. I made it through about 20 pages. Pretty much the same stuff as every month before. Paste, you bore me. We could have had something good together. But like a movie relationship gone bad, you moved in and got comfortable. You don’t hold up your end of the bargain. You’ve really let yourself go.
I’m telling you right now Paste, pick it up or we’re through. I will relegate you to the Travel & Leisure pile.
Maybe it’s my fault, when this whole endeavor started, I really felt like $5 was a fantastic deal. Now I want my money back. Maybe if I offered more in the beginning, you would have brought more to the table.