“We’re in a business that’s populated by professional gossips. We barter in rumor and fact.”—Raejean Corliss
“Raven is irrelevant,” I said, a few minutes into the interview. “You’re doing the same stories you were doing when I was learning my ABC’s.”
“We know we need fresh blood. That’s the reason we’re seeking out young journalists,” David said. “We want a new perspective. Times have changed and we’re changing too.”
“The magazine is superficial. It has no depth,” I said. “It has too much fluff. These are serious times for Black people.”
Maceo sat silent. “What do you mean?” Samuele asked.
Before I could answer, David rapidly rose. “I want him,” he said, abruptly marching out the room.
What was going on?
I sat there checking out the interior decoration. Maceo’s office, like those of the other front-five at WIPE, was well-appointed. It had oversized windows with a grand view. His office, like the other top editors, boasted picture telephones—which were decades ahead of the times. There were 21-inch Zenith color television sets in custom-built Teak consoles. And there were enough potted plants around to mock the Garfield Park Conservatory. Somewhere in the back of my mind, I had to admit I wouldn’t mind having an office with a picture phone, color TV and a view of the Oak Street Beach.
The interview continued, shifting directions. They wanted to know how I would like to see the magazine’s editorial policy change. They nodded as I ticked off ways I thought would make Raven more relevant. It was flattering to have these editors seek out my ideas. Maybe the place wouldn’t be that bad after all.
Fifteen minutes after he had abruptly left, David returned. He looked at Maceo and Samuele, and then said to me: “Let me show you around our lovely new offices.”
David was an engaging tour guide. He dished out company history and details, pointing out what was produced where and who did what, peppered with dashes of spicy gossip. He hinted at who was sleeping with whom as he walked me around introducing me to staff. He told me about the couple who used to work at WIPE but was fired following a domestic after the boyfriend was busted for pimp slapping his cheating live-in girlfriend.
He told me how the mahogany paneling had been imported from Kenya. How Mrs. Wilson Jr. had made a special trip, along with Samuele, to Italy so that she could personally select the marble flooring for the lobby from an Italian quarry. How he personally had recommended the interior designers to Mr. Wilson Jr. and that they were the same team who had decorated Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton’s Hollywood home. How the Wilson’s, Junior and Senior, got the business off the ground after hitting the numbers and a $727 payoff.
“They were selling Colored Cavalcade over the counter at their storefront grocery. They paid friends to go around to other groceries and news stands in Bronzeville and pretend to be customers, inquiring about the magazine. Of course, no one else carried it. But, thanks to popular demand, in no time flat, every grocery store and news stand on the South Side soon was prominently displaying issues of Colored Cavalcade,” David said.
I nodded. Slick move.