There is no better illustration of the devolution of travel writing (periodicals division) than the 30th anniversary issue of Condé Nast Traveler, now on newsstands. The editor, in her letter to readers, tries to make a case for continuity, but she sabotages her argument by pasting above it a photo of the cover of the inaugural issue. You read the titles of the stories that ran in 1987, and the names of the people who wrote them – “Adrift up the Amazon,” Christopher Buckley, “A passion for Barcelona,” Robert Hughes – and then you turn the pages to find articles about luxury lodgings in Paris and Rome. The magazine’s original slogan still graces the cover: “Truth in Travel,” though it should now be changed to “Faith in Advertising.”

By Thomas Swick • Category: media


08/24/17 07:48

It's amazing how quickly you can get through magazines and the Sunday New York Times when you call a moratorium on reading anything about Trump.

By Thomas Swick • Category: Americans

25 years ago

08/23/17 08:49

The morning before Hurricane Andrew I stood on our new balcony – we had moved into the condo one month earlier – and watched an unending parade of boats heading up the New River. Not a good sign, I thought. Then I turned and looked at our wall of floor-to-ceiling windows unadorned by hurricane shutters.

Inside, I took my oldest books down from their shelves, wrapped them in garbage bags, and placed them on the sink in the bathroom. Then I closed the bathroom door. A few minutes later I locked the apartment and headed to the newsroom. It would be safer there, I thought, and there would be people to keep me company. (Hania was in Russia on a business trip.)

A little before midnight a few of us took a walk down to the river. It was a perfectly still night. I was scared but also, like any recent transplant, a little curious.

I slept on the floor underneath my desk. The wind howled for a few hours, suggesting mayhem. But that was taking place much farther south as, just before hitting land, Andrew had taken an unexpected left turn.

I got to see the extent of it the following Sunday when people in features were recruited to relieve the exhausted reporters. Driving through south Miami to attend a service at a roofless church, I got disoriented. Streets signs were gone, stoplights weren’t working, the trees that still stood bore no leaves. In Florida’s greenest season the world had turned brown. My curiosity had been sated.  

By Thomas Swick • Category: hometown


08/22/17 08:22

A friend from Nashville wrote yesterday: "I felt like the whole town was in that classic Life magazine photo of people in a theater wearing 3D glasses." While a friend on Facebook asked: "Now that the sun has seen its shadow, how many more weeks do we have of Donald Trump?"

By Thomas Swick • Category: Americans

This weekend a friend noted that people will make plans years, sometimes decades, in advance because of scientists' predictions of an eclipse, but they'll ignore scientists' warnings about climate change and rising seas.

By Thomas Swick • Category: Americans


08/18/17 08:24

A poet friend of mine recently sent birthday cards to two poems of his that have been sitting at a magazine for a year.

By Thomas Swick • Category: writing