My life for the next nine years was to be altered by a call out of nowhere from a number I didn't recognize on my phone. It was early 2005, and I was rolling through an aisle at one of my neighborhood grocers.
"Walter, it's Brian Boyle."
A voice I hadn't heard in five years, or was it seven? We knew each other from my freelance days at the Metro Times (where Brian directed marketing) and from Cafe Zuppa in Hamtramck, where I would see the Boyle brothers (Brian and Jim Boyle) weekly over bowls of soup and hunks of bread.
He was telling me about a new all digital Detroit magazine he and some partners were launching. Some strong Detroit talent was on board, he said. Evidently he wanted me to join the team. "Yeah, man," I said. "Count me in." Then I went back to shopping, not sure of the concept, the name, the timetable for publishing the first issue. I knew almost nothing but I was in all the same.
A few months later we met at Jacoby's downtown. An all-star crew of writers, photographers and other media people were there. I ordered the schnitzel and a beer and began to feel good about this fledgling project: Model D. Model D. Model D
. I couldn't think of a better or more winning brand for a web-based Detroit media startup (personal note: to be honest, the way we use (and often overuse) jargon like "brand," "winning" and "startup" as part of the journalistic lexicon today was largely nonexistent in '05).
Some of my future collaborators and comrades who shaped the editorial direction of this publication were there. And it is to them: Lisa Collins, Clare Pfeiffer, Chris Handyside, Dave Krieger, Jennifer Andrews and others (that I regretfully fail to remember) that I dedicate this last piece as managing editor of Model D.
I raise a glass to all of you, perhaps now forgotten or unknown to current readers, the professional editorial foundation upon which everything good about this company was built. That means 22 weekly or biweekly Issue Media Group publications across the continent and several other custom pubs, all spawned by the creative talent assembled in that downtown Detroit dining room in spring 2005.
I raise another glass to Brian Boyle and Paul Schutt, group publishers of this Detroit-based digital goliath, the mother of their invention.
Yes, this is my exit party and I will get sharply sentimental if I want to.
After nearly nine years under a bunch of titles (FilterD founding editor, editor at large, IMG editorial handyman, Michigan executive editor and managing editor of Model D, the latter since September 2010 when I took over from Clare Pfeiffer), I am off to chase after new adventures. I will write, something every respectable and reasonably talented editor shackled to a computer screen for too long must do; some of it for Model D, a bit more for the Urban Innovation Exchange, still more for editors and publishers I am yet to meet.
I have other outside writing and consulting projects that will intersect with Model D, including work I'm doing for a group from Berlin organizing a conference in Detroit
that will bring German art/music/culture entrepreneurs together with likeminded Detroit people. Beyond the conference happening in May, there are plans for longterm engagement between creative communities in the two cities. Exciting and important work to say the least. Stay tuned in for updates from Detroit and Berlin in the coming weeks.
I am also keenly interested in working with my friend Carleton Gholz and the Detroit Sound Conservancy
on its future documentary projects.
Both of these groups are dedicated to a mission close to my heart and soul: telling stories, unearthing history, establishing legacies, archiving and documenting Detroit music.
Model D will be in excellent hands with my friend and colleague Matthew Lewis. We have trained hard for the past month. He's ready to steer the ship and will formally introduce himself as managing editor in next week's issue. Best wishes to you, Matt.
You will see me around, probably more than you have for the past few years. Some of you might regard this as a good thing. Come see me play records. Read the stuff I write, come check out the public stuff I promote and produce. Follow me @nospectacle
for where and when.
I'm ready to make this a summer of love, just you all and me. See you out there.
Walter Wasacz thought he'd grown out of his romantic nature a long time ago. Alas, it is alive and well, perhaps rekindled by the prospects of new adventures at home and abroad. We'll see him where the action is, no doubt.