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The Column of Lasting Insignificance: June 27, 2009

LAST WEEK I RETURNED from a 12-day visit to Tanzania and specifically that vast, open plain called the Serengeti which houses a huge percentage of the world’s wild animals — lions, cheetah, elephants, rhinoceros, wildebeest, warthogs, zebras, giraffes, gazelle, hyenas…you name it. As well as such rarely-seen birds, in the U.S., as flamingos, ostriches, and vultures. It was quite a trip even though the company — my fellow travelers — left a lot to be desired. Basically, they were politically correct to the extreme, endorsing the official policies that discourage visitors from taking pictures because “the locals don’t like it.” (You don’t hear the locals objecting to the billions of dollars that tourism brings to the country.)

    In the 59th issue of my occasional magazine, the Ojai Orange,

I have dealt with the trip fully and so it seems pointless to repeat my experiences here, as this website will reproduce the complete issue starting next week. Naturally, I also took lots of videotape and these shows will also be streamed on the site.

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LIVING IN PARIS, or some other foreign enclave, has always been popular with American artists and writers, but research now shows that it has been a boost to creativity in more ways than one. Two Chicago psychologists presented a group of business students who had studied abroad and some who had not, with some simple tests designed to determine how well they solved some practical problems. For example, one was: given a box of thumbtacks and a lighted candle and asked, how could it be fixed to the wall without dripping on the floor? (answer below). Many more students who had lived abroad solved the problem than the homebodies.

THE B-PLAN for some of those pink-slipped financiers has been to turn to gambling, reveals Details which reports that some online bettors more than doubled their previous Wall Street earnings. “One former banker, says the mag — for long a successful recreational player — “has turned poker into just one more exotic financial transaction using skills honed on the Street.”

MEXICO’S CURRENT WOES all coalesced at exactly the wrong time for Catherine Krantz who for ten years has been producing the glossy magazine, Another Day in Paradise in Zihuatanejo, about 100 miles north of Acapulco. She was just about to franchise clones of it in other parts of the country, but considering all the ominous news coming from Mexico these days it might not be the first place to think of as a retirement haven. So far, though, tourists and their favorite places to visit have been little affected by the drug wars, and sooner or later it’s expected that things will return to something like normal.

Catherine explains that producing a local tourist magazine is an interesting way for mature couples to ‘retire’ and yet start a new career at the same time, an opportunity specially suited to a writer, editor, photographer.

“It’s something I fell into,” says Krantz, “but there’s proven to be a real need for it, and that will only increase as the population of ex-pats in Mexico grows.”  Various statistics place the number of foreign residents in Mexico at anywhere from 500,000 to one million, with expectations for that number to significantly increase as more and more baby boomers look to Mexico to stretch their retirement dollars.

Catherine Krantz
Another Day in Paradise
Google for more about the magazine

Despite a diminished publishing climate, people still read magazines — they are a marketing force second only to television — and nowhere more than when visiting a foreign place where a community-based publication like ADIP might typically offer general information about Mexican art, history, culture, travel, along with local content such as tips about things to do around town, community news, and a smattering of ads from local businesses.

Amazingly enough, Ms. Krantz had no publishing experience when she began. She didn’t even speak Spanish and she cautions that publishing a community-based magazine is not a part-time or easy job. “But for the right person(s) it can be extremely rewarding.  Most start-up magazines fail within the first two years.  After ten years we have taken all the guesswork out of it and will make sure that new colleagues have the tools to succeed.  We want a strong national network of community publications for national advertising sales and have every incentive to help them build a successful business.”

Solution to the problem above: Stand the candle in the box, tack the box to the wall.

THE WILCOCK WEB: You’d think that by now even Sarah Palin would have realized how ridiculous she is and retired from the public sceneConan O’Brien is entirely too fond of himself….After 27 years, Television Week has dropped its print edition in favor of an online version….Dr. Bradley Connor, prexy of the International Society for Travel Medicine, advises eating pasta the night before your flight to encourage the brain’s production of sleep-inducing serotonin…..Angelina Jolie replaced Oprah Winfrey at the head of Forbes’ annual Celebrity 100, although Winfrey (last year’s income: $275 million) still leads in the money rank….The AARP Bulletin reports on a growing trend for shared medical appointments in which a dozen patients jointly discuss their (common) ailments with the doctor. ”Books are the new business cards,” comments Smart Money on the growing number of executives writing and self-publishing their own books….Digital monitors such as mechanical birds that chirp when the soil is dry, or signal when the tomatoes need to be covered, are racking up sales as more and more people turn to doing their own gardening…. Sign on the rear window of an SUV in SanFran: I ain’t no soccer mom, or soccer dad. I’m a rockin’ single salesman on a mission. Thank you very much….. A ball and chain weighing 21 pounds called Study Ball is touted by The Week as a device to clamp to your child’s ankle and is digitally timed to open after he completes his homework…. Brit comedian Ricky Gervais, who owns the U.S. version of The Office says: “I’m richer than Simon Cowell……Deft definition: Giraffiti — vandalism spray-painted very, very high…..With all that information about you on your Facebook page it’s all too easy for a hacker to steal your identity warns Sid Kirchheimer in his cautionary book, Scam-Proof Your Life….David Geffen is reported by the Independent to be “settling in for a lengthy siege,” until the New York Times’ financial troubles force it to be sold ….“What the public wants is the image of passion, not passion itself.” —  Roland Barthes (1915-1980)