Juvenal—a Roman satirical poet from the second century A.D. whose poems were so unfunny even in his lifetime that they effectively killed off the genre of satirical poetry before it had even begun—told me something once that I’ve never forgotten. “Acorns,” he said, “were good enough until bread was invented.” Speaking of the matter further seemed inappropriate at the time, as we were at a cocktail party on the Tiber, where only wallflowers engaged in metaphor deconstruction. And it was just as well because, as Juvenal later explained, “I meant bread, just bread,” which may be why his poetry never took off.
Still, I’ve been thinking a lot about Juvenal since Houstonia reached its first anniversary, or at least I’d like you to think I have. When the magazine first launched, in April of 2013, there were many doubters. Some held the belief—by which I mean read on the Internet—that print media was in its twilight (the Internet being entirely impartial in this regard). Others questioned whether a city of six million people—which already boasted a daily newspaper with five local stories in its A-section, occupying roughly the same amount of space as its comics and puzzles—needed another periodical. And a few wondered what this all had to do with acorns.
But then the first issue of Houstonia arrived and with it a vote of confidence from literate Bayou City residents everywhere, proving once and for all that 1) there was a place for us in the market and 2) “literate Bayou City resident” is not an oxymoron. Our success astonished the cretins and snobs who’d predicted our early demise, but not us at Houstonia, where cretins and snobs are made of finer stuff. We knew we could produce a publication both vital and indispensable—a chronicle of stories untold, voices unheard, and editor’s notes unintelligible—if only you would give us a chance. And wonder of wonders, you did.
Soon, Houstonia was a force to be reckoned with. Within days we became the top-selling magazine in the city. Within weeks we were unfairly attacked by a competing media outlet, proving once and for all that 1) their lies were only exceeded by their typos and 2) “online journalism” is an oxymoron. And within six months we had achieved the long-cherished goal of lasting beyond five months.
On the whole, magazine editors tend to be bitter souls with pessimistic tendencies, balding heads, bad memories of high school, and narcissistic cats, and in this I am no exception. But I can’t help but be optimistic about the future of Houstonia, if only because of you, our readers, who are as engaged and enthusiastic a bunch as any publication could wish for, and who every day help us succeed by cheering us on, tipping us off to great stories, and spreading the word.
Thank you for that. Really. Thank you for giving us a year, for embracing the new and unfamiliar—that most Houstonian of impulses—and for loving Houstonia as you love this city—both for what we are and what we might be.