Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Article I Wrote For Tangents Magazine, September 1996

Tangents: Banned In Charlotte and Loving It
Daniel Coston
September 1996
volume 2, number 1

Over the past year, many of you have followed what’s become known as our “banned counter,” or how many locations Tangents has been thrown out of.

We originally had no intention of keeping track of such things, but after a few restaurants and coffeehouses tossed Tangents away, claiming we were “obscene,” it became a private joke within our staff as to how many places we’d currently been banned from. When we first printed the number of banned locations on the cover of our fourth issue, our reader response was immediate. Unfortunately, so was our distributors’.

The human race is a funny bunch, boys and girls. Too many people are concerned about doing what’s perceived as right, i.e. what “everyone else” is doing. When some people see that Tangents has been banned by some places, they immediately think there must be something horrible about us, yet do not dare reading us for themselves and (Eureka!) forming their own opinion.

Within a few months, the number of banned locations ballooned from five to 14, and was threatening to spiral even further out of control. Realizing that some people weren’t getting the joke, we put the “banned counter” on page 2 along with our listing of those numerous brave souls that still carry us. Since then, we haven’t been banned from any further locations.

Actually, I wouldn’t mind being thrown out of those locations so much if they had the guts to tell us their decision to our faces. Each one would meekly mumble something like, “Don’t put your papers here,” and then run off to another part of the store, or an underling would be sent to tell us, “The boss said …”
We once received a fax from a Major Music Retail Store (that still carries us in two of their other locations in town). When I went to talk to the manager who sent us the fax (and turned out to be a former high school classmate of mine), she immediately launched into a lengthy (and stupid) five-minute tirade about how offensive our magazine is. There’s nothing more satisfying than having a dipstick, whose self-esteem is as plastic as their name tag, chastising me about the bad decisions I’ve made in my life.

One of the reasons we’ve survived is another human trait: acceptance. You’ve sought us out and told us how much you like this magazine, and for that, we’re eternally grateful. Even those who still don’t know what to make of us have realized we’re here to stay and have accepted us as part of this city’s plethora of information sources.

If you find a location that refuses to carry Tangents, ask for it and make sure the owners follow through. Maybe then they’ll do what’s “right.”

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