Room With A View
I'm told that my colleagues are going to give me a party to mark my retirement from more than thirty years at Down East. I only wish it were possible to invite all quarter-million of you who read this magazine each month, as I think together we would have one of the liveliest parties in the history of Maine (to say nothing of the largest).
I say this because over the years, I've come to know you well. I certainly know you from reading your thousands of letters to the editor (yes, we do read every letter). I've also sat next to you at concerts in Portland and Orono and Lewiston, passed you on trails at Rockwood and Acadia, met you at parties in Lovell and Rockport, dined next to you in restaurants in Waterville and Ogunquit, and exchanged friendly nods with you on the streets of places like Kennebunkport, Fort Kent, and Belfast.
Wherever I've run into you, I've always been able to recognize you - and I've always been struck by how nice you are. People who read Down East are good people: bright, friendly, sensible, fairly happy, and absolutely sold on Maine. You're pleasant people to be around, and I've enjoyed your company even though you probably didn't realize you were spending time with the editor of Down East. (We editors tend to be invisible.)
But in our time together what changes we've seen, both around the state and in the pages of this magazine.
As editor, I like to think in recent years Down East has learned to look at Maine more as it really is - not just as we want it to be. As issues have become more complicated in the Pine Tree State - our outrageously spiraling property taxes come to mind, and the precarious fate of the North Woods - Down East, often in the voice of Jeff Clark, Maine's most respected journalist, has more and more tried to explain what's at stake for those of us who live here.
At the same time, Down East has learned to laugh at itself - not at the old cornball stereotypes of sou'wester-clad Mainers but at the peculiar assortment of indignities and delights that make life here different from anywhere else. Mud season and the muddle in the legislature are undeniable realities for most of us, but so are peepers, lupines, and the bold Atlantic.
The Homes Down East section - which you tell us repeatedly you either love or hate - is now almost entirely in color and looks more vibrant than ever, even to those of us who are not in the market for a multimillion-dollar house.
In fact, throughout the whole magazine there is more color, and the quality of our photography has never been stronger, thanks in no small part to the sharp eye of our executive art director, Dawna Hilton. Tapping gifted photographers like Benjamin Magro, Brian Vanden Brink, and Sara Gray, she has taken us all over the map to places like Turner, New Sweden, and East Machias, places no less beautiful in their own way than better-known beauty spots like Monhegan and Camden.
And what do you make of today's Magazine of Maine? Over the last decade alone you have virtually doubled our circulation and more than 75 percent of you keep renewing your subscription every year. As I said, you're very nice people.
Although this is the last issue in which I will be listed as editor in chief, it's hardly the end of my career with Down East. I fully expect to continue to enjoy the magazine every month, and for good reason: I know the man who will succeed me and have an inkling of what he will bring to the enterprise. A native of Scarborough and graduate of Cheverus and Yale, Paul Doiron, fortyish (to my sixtyish), has been an editor here for several years, most lately as managing editor. And already he has brought a style and wit to our pages that have perked up the magazine in a way I know the founding editors of Down East would admire. He's proven himself a well-organized, confident, and effective manager and has earned the respect of the editorial team he has helped put together. As Maine rolls into one of the most exciting periods in its history, Paul, I am sure, will find countless imaginative ways to explain what's happening, all the while reminding us how Maine actually is different than the other forty-nine states.
I am proud that Down East has never been stronger and more widely read than it is today. But I fully expect that under the stewardship of our new editor it will become even more interesting and entertaining. As for myself, I look forward to following this success from my easy chair in Belfast, and in a way, I guess, that means I will still be sharing time with you. Those few minutes each month, as we each turn the pages of a new Down East, we'll all be having a good time together wherever we are - and if that's not a party, I don't know what is. Call it our monthly celebration of Maine.
Editor in Chief