In 2010, as Geist turns 20 years old, history is repeating itself.
Geist #1 was published in 1990, if you don’t count the 10 or 12 years before that when Stephen Osborne, Editor-in-Chief, was conceiving the magazine and conducting some very informal market research (among colleagues, friends and passersby on the street).
That first issue was compiled, edited and prepared for the printer in the home of Osborne and me (Mary Schendlinger, Senior Editor) right around the time when desktop publishing technology had evolved to the point where one could crank out a national cultural magazine if one had a vision, a few decades of publishing background, and a 386 DOS clone with 640K of RAM, a 20-megabite hard drive and a Hercules graphics card.
We like to say that the first issues of Geist were produced in the editor’s living room, a corner of which Osborne used as an office (mine was in a corner of the dining room), which brings me to the history repeating itself part.
Now, in our 20th year, we’re back in the living room. Geist is one of the arts groups that will be moving into the new arts space in the Woodward’s development in downtown Vancouver. Our lease in the funky old brick building with tin ceilings (and a magnificent view of the North Shore mountains from the washroom) in Gastown, the oldest part of the city, expired on July 31. That was to have been perfect timing, but development and renovation being what they are, the Woodward’s move-in date has crept on into September and possibly October. B-b-b-but what about Geist 78, the fall issue, supposed to be ready for mailing in September? Where will we produce it?
Right – in the living room.
Of course, a few things have changed in 20 years. We’re got more staff and more stuff (oops, I mean priceless archives). Osborne has moved his office out of the living room and into a studio in an alley in East Van. Kristin, our office manager, investigated ways to deal with the phone during the hiatus -- siphon messages to an online retrieval centre, get them transcribed with voice recognition software, forward them to a prepaid cellphone (that’s the one she picked). But we can’t help being reminded of the old days.
And, as in the old days, when something happens, such as a milestone birthday, we publish something. What, though? How about a 20-year special issue. A double issue, combining fall and winter 2010, quite convenient because the summer issue was a few weeks late and we love it and we don’t want it yanked off the stands too fast.
So, a special double-wide Geist. Not just a retrospective, though. We want new content, with perhaps a handful of our old faves included to give context and bestow venerability. Heck, some of our readers weren’t even born when Geist started up, and the ones who are old enough to remember the ancient bits aren’t going to fuss. Two times in the life of Geist we have accidentally published a piece twice, and the only person who noticed was one of our young volunteers, Jill Boettger. Whatever does get included from back issues could do with a bit of commentary, which maybe we ought to write from the living room.
The double-wide should look and feel like Geist but maybe it should also look like a book and act like a book. Geist is 8¼ x 10 inches and change, not a very booky format—not a very elegant booky format, anyway. So let’s say a slightly different size, but not too different because then Patty would have to make all new design and layout templates for it. And a jazzier design, but not too different because it still has to say Geist.
It would stay on the stands twice as long as a regular issue – half a year! – and be a terrific gift if we got it out early enough in the holiday selling season.
On the other hand, moving office takes up a lot more time and love than you ever think it will. And it’s hard as heck to do a good job on a book when it’s thrown together, no time to announce it, market it, build up suspense, fool with design, etc.
On the other hand, how many times does a magazine turn 20? Who knows if we’ll even be alive, let alone compos mentis, when the next milestone looms?
On the other hand, why do we have to bring out our 20th anything in the 20th year?
On the other hand, four fingers and a thumb…