Ambling Out to Pasture
Dan Davis' Last Column

by Daniel Davis

The first piece I ever wrote for Dimensions was an editorial called "Taking Responsibility." It was printed in the fourth issue, in August 1984. Of course, in those days, Dimensions wasn't called Dimensions, nor was it an independent magazine. It was nominally published by NAAFA's Fat Admirers Special Interest Group, and it was universally known (within a very small universe) as the FA-SIG. In reality, of course, it was published by Conrad Blickenstorfer. For a while it was little more than a newsletter.

NAAFA also had a different name back then. It was the National Association to Aid Fat Americans, and it would be years before it changed its name to the National Association to Advance Fat Acceptance. Like the FA-SIG, it was still pretty much a volunteer, amateur production.

The FA-SIG was printed out of Conrad's spare bedroom and reproduced by copy machine. Photographs were rare and tended to be murky. I still remember the caption under the first photo in the FA-SIG. It said, "Wow, a picture!" And that's how we all felt.

Over the years, the FA-SIG and NAAFA grew in size and sophistication. By 1990, both Conrad and NAAFA realized that privatizing the publication would be in everyone's best interest. That's when the FA-SIG became Dimensions.

I'd been writing for the FA-SIG regularly since my debut in 1984, and I'd taken on some editing as well. When the FA-SIG went private, I helped Conrad set up the corporation and came on board as minority shareholder, chief (and only) financial officer, columnist, and on-and-off editor.

Unlike NAAFA and Dimensions, I didn't go through a name change. Nonetheless, during my long association with the magazine, my life went through its own series of changes. I became divorced, went out of business, moved and changed jobs several times, remarried, and finally settled down in Sacramento. I'm both the same man I used to be and very different. Kind of like Dimensions, only without the magazine's greatly improved appearance and sophistication.

Over the years I've harangued, satirized, pontificated, poked fun, and generally cut up in my columns. I doubt if I've ever changed anyone's viewpoint or behavior, but I did get a lot of folks to say, "Yeah, damn right," and a lot of others to say, "Shut up, you fool/hypocrite/wretch" (pick one). The column was good therapy for me on more than one occasion, and it certainly helped hone any writing skills I might have started out with.

When I reread that first article I wrote for the FA-SIG, I am surprised by its combination of slightly dopey naiveté and truth. The heart of what I wanted to convey was my belief that fat admirers, like all human beings, have a moral obligation to be honest about their attitudes and intentions; to treat casual and long-term partners fairly and with dignity; and to work at behaving with honor throughout their lives. I've been repeating that message for years. The older I get, the more deeply I believe it.

But lately I find myself lecturing more and entertaining less. The anger and turmoil generic to the fat acceptance movement seem to be darkening my perspective. I never intended to be a preacher or a prophet of doom, and the last thing I want to do is bore anyone, least of all myself.

So I'm putting myself out to pasture, at least with respect to my column. I'll still be working behind the scenes at Dimensions as the chief (and only) financial officer, a minority shareholder, and an on-and-off editor. But this is my farewell "Outlook."

I want to thank Conrad and Ruby for letting me participate in the magazine and run off at the mouth for all these years. I also want to thank my wife, Elisabeth, for the many ideas she has given me for the column and for a lot of stuff I'm not going to tell you about. I'd like to thank my three cats, Rocky, Roger, and Sherman, for providing love, entertainment, and several irregular scars which provide never-ending topics of conversation. Finally, I'd like to thank you, my loyal readers, for your unflagging support. I only wish I could thank all seven of you in person. ß

All good things must come to an end, and Dan's twelve year tenure of first contributing articles and then the Outlook column was a good thing indeed. Though I tend to be a loner, Dan is one of the few people I truly cherish as a friend, and that will never change. I've always admired his strong beliefs and the way he so eloquently and humorously shared them with those around him. Dan is one of the kindest and fairest people I've ever met, and his contribution to making Dimensions what it is today is tremendous. At times, his honest, straightforward style caused him great flak from lesser souls, and I know that this hurt him deeply. I greatly enjoyed having Dan as a regular contributor to Dimensions and, of course, as the chief-and only-financial officer, a job I hope he'll continue doing for many years to come. Thank you, Dan!!
-- Conrad H. Blickenstorfer