Janice ILacqua, Copy Editor


When I tell people at the office what I do when I am not with them, they express a mixture of admiration and confusion. I hand them my business card, and the confusion seems to overtake the admiration.

“Worker?” they ask. This is followed by one of two different reactions: “That is so cool.” Or, “What does that mean?”

You see, at my day job, we are all specialists. I am the instructor; you are the marketer; Sally is the operations manager; John is the janitor. At the Umbrella Factory, we are all workers. I am the copy editor, the cheerleader, the assistant events coordinator, the workshop instructor, the janitor, the cook, the bartender—you know? I’m a worker.
With either reaction, I just smile enigmatically, understanding Henry David Thoreau’s “mass of men” passage in Walden for the hundredth time.

We are leading lives of desperation in this country these days (and some of us not so quietly), and that is exactly why I am involved in Umbrella Factory. That, and I’m sleeping with one of the founders.

One day last September, when the light had just shifted to the south, and one could see a yellow leaf or two dotting the cottonwood trees, this magazine founder that I’m sleeping with and I were holding hands and walking down a quiet street in our neighborhood. He had recently lost his job, as had many of our friends. He was teaching at-risk youth 6 hours a week for a community college and feeling very disillusioned by the experience. He was also pretty broke. He was ranting about what was going on in our country. I think he will forgive me for the creative license I am about to take here.

“The problem is, we have become a service-based economy—and we don’t even do that very well. As soon as one of these other countries figures out how to do it at half the cost, we’re done.”

I nodded in agreement. I’ve heard this one a time or two, and I honestly agree with the statement. I didn’t agree simply for the health of the relationship.

"I mean, what do you think would happen if I were to go out to Commerce City (a real place, not just a bit of irony for our readers) and buy one of those old, abandoned factories? I could put all my friends to work and round up all the beggars off the street corners with their cardboard signs and put them to work in my factory. We could make, I don’t know, umbrellas. And these would be the best damned umbrellas the world has ever seen. Everyone the world over would want to buy one of these American-made umbrellas with a stamp that says, ‘Made in Denver, Colorado.’”

For the health of the relationship, I said, “Well, baby, I would totally support you in that.”
“The problem is,” he continued, “I don’t know anything about manufacturing, much less about umbrellas.”

I squeezed his hand, and we continued our walk in the comfortable silence of two people who have known each other a long time.

Two or three days later, we were walking down the same street when he said, “I’ve been thinking about this manufacturing thing. I may not know anything about umbrellas—I mean, we live in Denver, after all. But I do know how to manufacture something—literature. What if I were to start a magazine? I could employ a lot of my friends and to hell with those people on the street corners. I could publish the writing that I like; I could make something with a Denver stamp on it. I could create a community of like-minded people. I could promote my ideas and put really interesting art into the world.”

“Well, baby, I would totally support you in that.” This time, it wasn’t just for the health of the relationship. Not only would I support him in it, I wanted to be heavily involved in it.

So when the boys asked me to write a preamble for our second issue of Umbrella Factory Magazine, I knew I had to tell this story. It seems that the minute he uttered the words, “I want to start a magazine,” the Universe conspired to make it flesh. Within two weeks, he had a non-fiction editor, a poetry editor/promoter, a graphic designer, and a Janice. Everyone just wanted to be involved to be involved. Because, like me, they love Anthony. Because, like me, they want to manufacture something that, if it doesn’t make a difference in the world, the country, or even the city, makes a difference in their lives.
I scan the sunny skies of Denver looking for thunder-bumpers, and sometimes—especially on a summer afternoon—I am rewarded. The world needs the umbrellas we are manufacturing here. I need the umbrellas. Keep writing, painting, singing, or whatever you do. Hopefully one day soon, I will see you in a rain storm and offer you an umbrella. Maybe you will offer one to me. Either way, I hope our paths cross at the factory.