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.

martin's desk
You could lose yourself, and all your valuable documents, at Martin's desk.

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 visuals—mostly crap—and 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.

white oleander
Treasures from the art director's collection that found their way onto Speak covers.

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.

The writers were the magazine—almost every story idea was their own—and 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 proofing—a very busy time—and 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 me—American 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 personalities—pathologically self-denying—that 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 free tickets.

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.

little dan
As a child, Dan had a proclivity for emptying out kitchen cabinets. Martin asked to use this photo inside the "Pots and Pans" issue. Dan declined.

I considered 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.

After writing 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 out—although I nurse hopes it will re-ignite again somewhere.

I've been reading all the back issues since I discovered it—photos 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.

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 academics—this 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 Robbins—that'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 respect.

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 work—fiction, play, essays—in 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 design—the title of an article revealed little about what the pages would look like—but 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.

Ian Frazier 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.

(con't) have you ever considered calling it Rosie O'Donnell's Speak?>>

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