A Bailout for
Truth and BeautyTo: Henry Paulson, Treasury Secretary
From: The Literary Magazines of America
Dear Mr. Secretary:We have been impressed by the recent bailouts and forced mergers to ensure the continuation of the likes of AIG, Citibank, Lehman Brothers, Merrill Lynch, Washington Mutual, and, even, possibly, American automobile manufacturers.
Evidently executives of these companies spent lavishly (but not wisely), invested heavily in "derivatives," and racked up debts that could not be repaid. Unfortunately, we have similar problems here at "The Review" and, like them, would like to put in for a bailout.
Like most publications, we have survived these many years through subscriptions from readers. But times are tough and our income seems to be tied to the biggest derivative of them all, the Dow-Jones Industrial Average. What used to be enough in the way of contributions to pay for a regular mailing to subscribers, along with a pittance for our writers now seems scarcely enough to pay the rent, much less paté for our official office cat, Hodge.
We understand that you have gone to great lengths to preserve the likes of AIG and Washington Mutual though in the case of the latter, we are not exactly sure why you bother. Years ago Washington Mutual was owner of the $65,000 mortgage on our shack near Mission Beach and all we can remember about them were the dunning letters when we fell a bit behind in our mortgage and the odious late fees that blossomed like the peonies on the dogshit in our back yard when we were even a day late in our monthly payments.
With this anemia growing apace in our coffers, we come to beg a cash bailout à la AIG. We would even be amenable to a merger in the style of Merrill Lynch / Bank of America if you could find a suitable partner, although we have to tell you that we would be uneasy if you were to force a marriage between us and the National Review since their Weltanschaung is a bit different from ours. God forbid a shotgun wedding between this magazine and the Rush Limbaugh Newsletter.
In the long run, we think It better if you could merge us with Poetry Magazine. We understand they have received a healthy infusion of capital by means of the will of one Ruth Lilly, heir to the considerable Viagra drug fortune. We can envision going about in their corporate jet with their editors with the word "Poetry" --- or better, "Poetry + RALPH Magazine" --- writ large on the fuselage for all to see.
We could also consider a joint-venture with the New Yorker. Although their poetry is mostly in the fogey class, we like their cartoons and would enjoy dining at the "Four Seasons," having a pied-à-terre on Park Ave., etc. An alternative would be a merger with the London Review of Books although because of their political writings they might be considered "an undesirable alien" under the strictures of the Homeland Security Act of 2002.
We want to assure you that we have no ulterior motives in this appeal. Ours is a non-profit 501(c)3 corporation; thus we hold no common nor preferred stock which would quadruple in value the moment you announce your bailout (vide Citibank). Please note too that we have no "collateralized debt obligations" except for what we borrowed from our secretary's mother-in-law to buy our antique wood-burning computer.
One reason we are asking for this assistance is because of our landlord. He's a very generous man: we owe him eight month's back rent. I bring him up because you may be amused by something he said to me just a week ago.
I informed him that we were applying to the United States Department of the Treasury for a bailout, and that we would repay him as quickly as we got our check. I think he was bemused by the idea of a literary magazine getting a government handout, especially a periodical with our somewhat lackadaisical ways.
"AIG has nothing on you," he opined. (I don't think he was talking about executive salaries, since we don't have any.) He told me that he had been a "Closet Fabian" most of his life. He told me that he was astonished that, in less than a year, the Bush administration had been able to turn America from a neo-conservative society into a quasi-socialist one.
"Roosevelt did his damndest to nationalize the banks and factories in 1933," Grover said. "He failed. And now comes this cowboy from Texas and he does it overnight. It's a goddamn kick in the pants if you ask me."--- Yours in Arrears,
Lolita Lark Editor,
The Review of Arts, Literature,
Philosophy, and the Humanities