Most of these friends lived and still live in the Mission, drinking coffee that will slap you awake after sleeping on beds in closets. But there’s no part of San Francisco I can’t appreciate: the bay, the bridge, the other bridge, the pedestrian variety of Telegraph Avenue, the fresh food, the vintage signs, Chinatown, the pastel row houses, the sun setting behind Dolores Park, the sailboats in the marina, the just-sprung-from-the-institution meanderers of the Tenderloin, the first sight of the Golden Gate as you drive down the 101 and think: How can anyone stand to live in a place this pretty? Don’t it make your heart explode?
This summer, The Atlantic ran a really cool piece about WET, the 1976 magazine dedicated to gourmet bathing.
Below, some of my favorite covers:
As silly as it sounds, the ”screwball arts publication” not only landed Richard Gere and Debbie Harry on its cover but “ended up influencing a generation of designers, writers, and editors—and maybe even a few bathers.”
WET‘s unique New Wave blend of irreverent coverage (“bathing was actually beside the point,” said founding editor Leonard Koren) and funky stylish presentation was ahead of its time.
The magazine appealed to “connoisseurs of the strange” and became breeding ground for future creative forces to be reckoned with, such as rock star fashion shutterbug Herb Ritts and Simpsons creator Matt Groening.
BOY TOYS TALK BACK: Do you see WET‘s influence in other publications and blogs?
A writer out of loneliness is trying to communicate like a distant star sending signals. He isn’t telling, or teaching, or ordering. Rather, he seeks to establish a relationship with meaning, of feeling, of observing. We are lonesome animals. We spend all our life trying to be less lonesome. And one of our ancient methods is to tell a story, begging the listener to say, and to feel, “Yes, that’s the way it is, or at least that’s the way I feel it. You’re not as alone as you thought.” To finish is sadness to a writer, a little death. He puts the last word down and it is done. But it isn’t really done. The story goes on and leaves the writer behind, for no story is ever done.
I was far from being a perfect mentor. I was at turns harsh, distrustful of their instincts, focused on the wrong things and even, well, overly enthusiastic! But hey, I was learning. Teachers and coaches should know more than their students, but that’s only part of the job. They have to be good at asking provocative questions to give the writer’s working methods a gentle shakedown, to keep the fire stoked. I’ve worked with mentees who have more experience than I do. In a good pairing, the learning is equal.
Why do mentors do it? It can be for the pleasure of giving guidance that was given to them. Because they recognize a version of themselves in a younger — or older — writer. They fall in love with the writing and can’t imagine not getting involved. Being in the inspiration business gets them out of bed.