With this issue, our publication reaches the landmark age of ten. A party at the Casa Tropicana in June marked the occasion. In commemoration, I put together a photo book collection of all the covers of the 44 issues we’ve produced. Just finding them was no small task, as we had moved our offices five times in the decade and creating archives was never a priority.
When l finally found my way back to the Premiere Issue, it was a bit further than I expected.
By the Summer of ‘95, I was already in my 15th year of business. Kindred Associates was a typesetting and graphics agency downtown. I’d recently lost a city publishing contract, and the “photo-typesetting” business had pretty much gone the way of 8-track tapes. The room-sized graphics camera wasn’t getting much work and the paste-up tables were seeing more dust than wax.
I spent more than a few days walking the shoreline, trying to figure out what else I might want to do with my life, a normal activity through the ups and downs of the business. I always walked back with the same answer ... nothing. I liked what I was doing, despite its frustrations. I had developed a personal passion for graphic design as well as writing and photography, and especially for the community I had come to call home. The world was changing, technology was changing, and I figured we would just have to change, too. I found out that our typesetting equipment was so obsolete I couldn’t even donate it to a school, but I did sell the camera. I invested in a Macintosh and decided to create my own biggest client, a vehicle that would combine what I wanted to do with where I wanted to do it. Having bounced around the idea for a couple of years, I knew it was now or never.
The San Clemente Journal was to be a unique publication. I had seen parts of it everywhere, but nothing quite like it anywhere … mostly because it didn’t make any financial sense. The large format would be more expensive to print and mail, and wouldn't fit in normal racks. By not allowing advertising on page three or the tops of pages we would be limiting sales. It would be hard to sell subscriptions when distributing it for free, and it would require an as yet unidentified team of writers who would have to be much more concerned with the quality of their words than the quantity of their paychecks. Of course, it would all depend on the support of local, then-struggling small businesses, buying into the unseen image of a half-magazine, half-newspaper deal with a pretty cover and a sketchy distribution plan. We didn’t even try to sell annual contracts because if we didn’t make a profit on the first issue, there wouldn’t be a second one.
On the positive side, when Andy Fulton, a friend and client, decided to help, he brought years of experience in everything from writing and photography, to marketing, design and publishing. He came up with our slogan, “Celebrating Life in San Clemente”, which has helped define our objective. Tina (Visnic) Wolfe had just finished her stint as editor of the Saddleback Lariat and was also willing to give up her time to the cause. She even brought along some other aspiring writers, anxious to see their name in print. Previously published author, Greg Niemann, wanted to contribute, and he has, in every issue to date. A friend named Jean Brady accepted the challenge of selling ads in a publication without any samples. For production we relied on a recent art school graduate named Wendy (Madison) Gatsios, who was determined to teach me “desk-top publishing,” and we stretched the calm patience of Sharyn Insley, who had the unenviable job of keeping track of which bills we couldn’t pay.
Things were startlingly different only a decade ago. The whole county was bankrupt. Real Estate was only thinking about a comeback. Local businesses were singing the blues. Tina wrote about the newly created position of Economic Development Director, who estimated 60% of our citizens’ shopping was being done elsewhere. The parking problem we had downtown in ‘the early 90’s was only that there were too many empty spaces, the place was a ghost town at night. Andy wrote about our first San Clementean, Ken Khachigian, a national political consultant who moved here with Nixon. You think he could have pictured Arnold Swartzenegger as Governor of Cal-i-for-nia … it wouldn’t have been real enough to even laugh about. The beautiful community of Talega that we know and love, with a couple thousand homes, the golf course, the community pool, shuttle, shopping and business centers, just ten years ago it was only rumors and rattlesnakes. Stephanie Dorey had only just moved to town.
For three years, I wondered if each issue would be the last. But with a decade’s broad perspective, I’m here to report that our future is secure, at least as bright as that of our namesake, and we will have another issue out in November.
Shelly and I want to thank the over 20 advertisers who bought into that issue ten years ago ... and have never missed one since, as well as those who support us today. I want to thank the 85 writers, 33 photographers, Anne Batty and twenty five others who have contributed to the cause over the years.
We have made a formal effort to salute them on page 24.
And I want to thank you, readers who have found some reason to pick up an issue and reap the fruits of their labors and hopefully, have found new reasons to Celebrate Life in San Clemente.