Every time that I couldn't imagine having one more idea for one more spread,
something unexpected came along and changed my whole outlook. Those were
some of the best moments for me.
could lose yourself, and all your valuable documents, at Martin's
Seeing Martin's work space, I got an appreciation for the kind of design
he did by the huge amount of scraps and books and images on the walls
and piled on the desk.
Martin always claimed that as chaotic as his work area looked, he knew
where everything was. Yet every time I asked him to find something, he
would dig through piles of stuff forever like it was his first time in
the room. It was a small price to pay, though, for his design.
Even the weakest articles were given an air of legitimacy by Martin's
design. That may be one of the things that most impressed me about his
work. Through sheer design he could make a chapter of dull, sixth-grade
history look like it belonged in a glossy magazine.
I never had
money to hire more than one or two illustrators or photographers per issue.
So I'd gather up some visualsmostly crapand then it was left
to Martin to lay everything out. He pulled off some amazing spreads out
of his own scraps, old photos, postcards, typography, visual experiments
and his imagination. I'll always be grateful to him; he truly elevated
the magazine. I just went to work every day, moved some words around.
But Martin really created something.
from the art director's collection that found their way onto Speak
Don't all magazine designers spend their days tearing up newspaper, photographing
projected images on walls, making type out of string, and other absurd
activities? Only the lucky ones. I hope Dan realizes what a well-respected
working model he created with Martin. I've seen few collaborations as
productive and successful.
Dan was always both professional and kind. There's only one other magazine
that I've ever worked for where the editor-in-chief wrote personal notes
to everyone every time they contributed.
were the magazinealmost every story idea was their ownand
I had great appreciation for all of the hours they put in; most could
be earning a good deal more money elsewhere. Writing a personal letter
with their checks was the least I could do. Problem was the checks typically
mailed during production and proofinga very busy timeand they'd
often go out late because I didn't have time to sit down and write everyone.
If I ever told them this, they'd probably say, "Screw
the note, just send the money."
I felt badly when I mentioned to Dan that it cost me thirty dollars to
cash one of his checks down here in Australia. He sneaked the cash into
his next bunch of magazines for meAmerican dollars from his own
pocket falling out of the latest issue when I got it. The guy runs the
magazine on fucking kindness. And humor and intelligence, too. I should
send him the money back and say thanks for a taste of that. But I went
and spent it all. Went and spent it all.
I personally hate the dynamics of pitching stories to editors, especially
anonymously through e-mail and letters. Interacting with Dan always felt
real, honest and refreshing. He would tell me if he didn't like something,
but respectfully. I felt respected as a writer and a contributor. That's
not a small thing.
Speak is a monumentally amazing project, much more than Dan has ever given
himself credit for. It shows the world how something significant can be
made from the determination of a few very critical and hard-working people.
Perhaps it is in our personalitiespathologically self-denyingthat
we can use our energy to create the work itself without the urge to use
it as an entrée into the social whirl of parties and dinners and
There are people who are in this business only to get laid, go to parties,
promote themselves. I don't think Tomas or Martin have a single achievement
in that regard, and I know I don't.
It's odd that besides the knowledge of the hard work we've put into this
thing, we have never reaped any rewards. I remember Dan and I went out
to dinner once at the end of an issue, but that was it. We never had a
release party, end-of-year thing, a thank you for our contributors.
a child, Dan had a proclivity for emptying out kitchen cabinets.
Martin asked to use this photo inside the "Pots and Pans" issue.
having a final party for everybody. But it would be something that I'd
hate to go to. It would be horribly depressing saying goodbye, plus there'd
probably be a speech required.
I guess we
both knew that Speak's end would be coming along. Personally, I was amazed
at how Dan was able to scrape each issue together. His determination really
fed into my enthusiasm. I did some of my best work for the magazine.
two editor's notes about the magazine's struggles, a sort of deathwatch
began. I knew we were dead, yet I wanted to enjoy it while it while it
lasted. But I could never escape the subject; everyone wanted to talk
about those notes and constantly check our pulse.
For the last two years my job at Speak was in question. Dan was even writing
about the fact that we were about to go under. Readers might have imagined
us complaining about our shitty fate and the stupidity of the world. But
it wasn't sad and depressing because we eventually ignored the fact that
we were probably dead in the water and focused on the work-- kind of like
sticking our heads in the sand. That's also what's so great about Speak:
the sense of putting your head in the sand, doing what you like to do,
and damn it if the world won't support you.
I've been living in denial for a while. Every day we were that much closer
to the end and I still thought it could turn around. Maybe once it really
is dead, we can talk about how to reincarnate it.
I hope the
magazine doesn't really die, but maybe just slows down. An issue or two
a year would be fine with me.
Every time I find a great magazine it seems to be fighting stay alive,
usually right at that point when it is almost ready to become a success.
I'm just glad I climbed on board with Speak as its tail was burning outalthough
I nurse hopes it will re-ignite again somewhere.
reading all the back issues since I discovered itphotos of the dead,
some guy hanging out with hopeless gamblers, a missing mattress, Internet
stars, finding out about lots of things. This friend of mine told me she
likes Speak because it tells her stuff she doesn't already know, whereas
most magazines recycle the same news, people and ideas. I am gonna miss
It was always a joy to open the latest Speak and find the lead interview
would be with Ellen Willis, Noam Chomsky or Lisa Vogel. Mad feminists,
anarcho-ranters, obscure academicsthis is what we wanted! At least
they had something to say about the world. I loved the magazine, and am
very proud to have been a part of it.
From Edward Gorey to Diane di Prima to Tony Robbinsthat's some range.
Not to mention all the singular science, activist, religion and philosophy
freaks. Literary, but not snooty, and cultural in the broadest sense of
the word, it was like nothing else.
Literary subject matter, long copy, missed deadlines: all acceptable.
And yet somehow it all worked out. You could always count on Speak to
print articles other magazines wouldn't, or at least to print them first.
And you knew that you were going to be part of a publication you could
Of all the magazines that I've sold ads for, Speak is the only one I read
cover to cover. It's the best job I've ever had.
I really believed when I went into an agency that I wasn't asking for
an ad, I was giving them something. I used to have an analogy of Speak
being a skateboarder weaving through the traffic in New York, doing things
differently to get to where it wants to go, while all the other magazines
are the stilted cars, not moving.
If we had
kept at them, we would have brought a lot of people around. I suppose
I had to believe that to have the courage to go in and do it. It wasn't
an easy sell, but I was just dazzled by the magazine.
The demise of Speak is a great loss to the writing community. For me,
its singular virtue was that it accepted writing on its merits. That is
a disappearing quality in the publishing community, a loss that diminishes
esthetic and intellectual possibility.
I enjoyed writing for Speak because Dan encouraged me, and probably all
his writers, to write what I wanted to write, not what the marketplace
demanded. In the end, you'd have to say that that was his undoing. But
I disagree. Everything has a beginning and an end. Speak's ending came
after five years. But for five years writers like myself had a creative
outlet for our more adventurous writings, fiction and nonfiction. I will
miss Speak, not just because there is one less outlet for me, but because
I liked to read what was in it. I'll miss Dan, too. He's one of those
good editors you meet only once in a rare while.
Dan was a daredevil. He edited Speak without a helmet, green-lighting
articles because he found the subject matter provocative rather than because
he knew it might turn Speak into a magazine-as-sugar-plum-candy-store
for the hipster set. Within one issue, you'd be shot out of the cannon
and sail across a chasm from an article on a self-help televangelist to
an interview with feminist filmmakers. Speak's art and literary melting
pot of mavericks found a home under Dan's big tent, where the show hopefully
isn't really closing but is just traveling to the next town.
Speak's demise saddens me because Dan always made the magazine he wanted
and didn't give in to the pressure of advertisers. I was pleased and proud
to have my workfiction, play, essaysin the mag. And Dan is
the only editor I've ever known to pay me in full before each issue appeared!
Love's labor is never really lost, and neither is Speak.
It's often difficult to find interesting things in magazines. Many of
them are in essence the same publication. Speak was not the same. When
it arrived in the mail you didn't turn to the table of contents, which
would ruin the surprise. Instead you flipped the pages. You did this for
the magazine's designthe title of an article revealed little about
what the pages would look likebut also for the subject matter, or,
rather, the array of it. You could learn from Speak. You could read about
people and ideas and books and music you didn't know about before. It
tipped you onto things. It helped.
once lamented, "The writing in catalogs and the writing in magazines move
closer toward each other every day." With Speak's final issue I'm afraid
they've taken another step.
have you ever considered calling it Rosie O'Donnell's Speak?>>