All true. And yet, something kept gnawing at me. In my mind, I still remembered that tiny scribble at the top of the memo, initialed AK. Since I left Playboy at the end of 1993, I had seen Arthur Kretchmer only once. I wasn’t exactly comfortable approaching him, but that’s what I had to do. I shot out an e-mail to Arthur. He was most gracious and forthcoming.

“As for perfect binding. I remember the meeting with Hefner very well. It was not an editorial meeting. It was a business meeting. After the full business presentation was made — and it was made mostly from an advertising sales point of view — Hef said, “The reasoning sounds all right, but you’re asking me to re-invent the wheel. This is a gamble that I’m very reluctant to take.”

“He asked my opinion, and I said something along these lines: I thought that getting rid of the staple would move the magazine into the category of classy mainstream magazines — a psychological shift that I thought the magazine was ready for.

“He considered that. There was more conversation. I’m not sure that he went on to approve  the change in that meeting, but I think he did. I think he said yes before that meeting was over.

“In the name of complete honesty, sometime after we made the change, I thought we’d made a mistake. Not right away, but certainly within the year. All the business people were happy. Even the newsstand guys liked the way the magazine stacked. But I became uncomfortable.  Obviously we never seriously considered going back.

“I don’t remember the circulating memos that you describe, but your telling of the story rings true. You have chosen the right words with ‘upscale look.’ I think once Hefner saw that as part of the conversation, he became a convert.”

I got my answer with that gnawing feeling now subsided.

© Haresh Shah

Illustration: Celia Rose Marks

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Next Friday, November 1, 2013

IN PRAISE OF MY BUICK

As of now, I’ve had seven cars. The first one, a Chevy Nova practically killed me many times over. But I missed her so when sold it to a couple of neighborhood kids. The second, an Oldsmobile Cutlass was stolen, requiring me to buy my first brand new set of wheels, a Buick Skylark. It went with me from Chicago to Munich to Santa Barbara and back to Chicago and many other exciting places in-between and had become as much a part of me during those ten most dynamic years of my life. It was loyal, it was reliable and it never let me down. The least I can do is to pay a little tribute to her

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