When I launched The Syncopated Times this past February, I made it my policy never to apologize to readers for anything except publishing information that was obviously incorrect. I have done that a few times when things got past me in my haste to get the paper to press. Being credible and accurate is more important to me than my own ego. An astigmatic editor always has plenty to feel humble about.
My rationale is just this: it is my intention never to have to say “I’m sorry” for some fool thing I shouldn’t have written. Somebody (not Oscar Wilde, as it turns out) once said, “A gentleman is one who never hurts anyone’s feelings unintentionally.” Not that I have any valid claim to that exalted status, but I aspire to blurt less and to consider the sensibilities of others when I must comment.
Outside the realm of verifiable data, when I ramble in the convoluted garden of subjectivity, I take special care not to gratuitously offend others while still saying pretty much exactly what I mean. It’s a neat trick I learned over years of earning my Persona Non Grata degree while writing scurrilous and insensitive letters to the local daily. There are people who still hate me for things I said fifteen years ago.
Since I have no desire to similarly alienate subscribers and advertisers to The Syncopated Times, I persevere to offer my thoughts in terms that I won’t be forced to take back. I realize I veered close to the line when I went after a particular Moldy Fig in last month’s column. Let it be known here that I was blasting one Fig and not the whole Tree. In the stark view of Downbeat, Jazz Times, and JazzIz, we Hot Jazzers are all somewhat mildewed produce. I, for one, would not have it otherwise. I count myself among your overripe number.
(The more astute among you will note that the above does not constitute an apology.)
Now: this paper has occasioned offense to some of you (and mere bemusement to others) and the insults were taken quite personally. This was borne of an unfortunate (and entirely unintentional) occurrence after the paper went to press last month. The surname of every subscriber was inadvertently omitted from the mailing label owing to a one-time glitch.
It wasn’t as if I’d adopted a rakish informality with each and every one of you. I understand that is the modern trend, now that the whole world is supposed to interact on a first-name basis. I, too, find it somewhat disconcerting when I go into certain restaurants and I’m requested to give my first name so I might be paged when my table is available or my food is ready. I’m often tempted to give it as “Occupant.”
One other thing I must address here is the speed (or lack thereof) with which your copy of The Syncopated Times is delivered. I hear numerous complaints on the non-appearance of the paper within a reasonable time. It’s not as if I peddle my Schwinn past your house and throw it at your doorstep. It goes to press about three weeks into the month prior to the publication date and is immediately sent via USPS to you. Some of you receive the paper before the first of the month; others are still waiting for their copy.
The Office of Publication is in Utica, New York and the papers are mailed from Fresno, California. I do mail myself The Syncopated Times, and I wait along with you to see my own postal copy. If it comes in under ten days, I consider it a speedy delivery. (Sometimes, the Schwinn would have been faster.)
Oddly enough, the first-name-only labels seem to have reached their destinations, for the most part. This I know because so many of you have expressed your irritation and embarrassment at the labeling. (If a paper cannot be delivered, the Postmaster of your locality sends me a notice and I pay fifty-seven cents postage due for the privilege. I then pop a replacement copy in an envelope and mail it to you first class.)
I do empathize with your chagrin. I may address you by your given name when answering your emails owing to the informal nature of the medium; if you see that as an untoward liberty on my part, please correct me. You are certainly free to call me by my first name as long as you do so with a kindly tone. I have the highest respect and friendliest regard for everyone who pays good money to read this paper. I would not hurt you for the world.
So, let this stand as an anomaly in the annals of The Syncopated Times: an apology from me to each one of you.