This story appears in our debut, Fifty Grande Magazine #1, the Hometowns issue.
Hi, and welcome to the debut of Fifty Grande Magazine. As you read through the first issue, I hope you feel our excitement and enthusiasm jumping off the pages. What’s in your hands is the result of a few years of effort to create a very different kind of travel magazine.
Part of this is a desire to look at the country from a new angle — to step back from the constant crazy political discourse. The magazine’s U.S. focus is NOT a result of a philosophical view, nor is it meant as a figurative wall between us and the rest of the world. It stems from the fact that there’s a grand, beautiful country out there, and by focusing on the 50 states, we can share stories that expand peoples’ places of interest. The experiences covered in Fifty Grande happen to be American, but the spirit of exploration is universal.
Insightful exploration is at the heart of our debut. To get there, we tapped writers, photographers, and creators who’ve lived and breathed places. You could pretty much read tips and city guides from anywhere to compile a list of things to do when traveling. But there’s no better way to get the lay of the land than to talk to someone who knows a place. A local lives there, but someone who conveys a place’s cultural undercurrent, way beyond, say, where to eat brunch — that’s gold. Which is why our first issue’s theme — each edition has one — is hometowns.
Guiding you, uniquely and artfully, through the essence of their hometowns are entertainment writer Jay Louis, who dishes on Boston with illuminating accuracy; Chicago-based restaurant critic Maggie Hennessy, who reintroduces us to dive bars (don’t use that term!); former Time Out New York editor-in-chief Brian Farnham, who shares his refreshingly Brian look at his hood, New York City; author Joshua David Stein, who frames the Philly mindset perfectly; and first-time writer Emily Carmichael, who makes a passionate plea to stop what you’re doing and get to Ninfa’s in Houston. There’s also so much more beyond these stories. Twenty one features altogether over the course of 128 pages.
On page 14 of the magazine (and the Social Good page here on the site) you’ll find a quote from American jazz icon John Coltrane that encapsulates everything we strive to be. Our North Star. To have a positive affect in the communities we serve is at the core of the magazine’s mission. That’s why we’ll give a portion of all profits to charities, to kick-start our social-good efforts. Also on page 14, you’ll see a way to vote on how we focus our resources.
That’s what we’re shooting for. I hope there’s something here that you love and that you’ll see Fifty Grande as I do: a gathering point for those who aspire to a life well-lived and see travel, open-mindedness, and new experiences at the core of that pursuit. I don’t want to spend any more space talking about the issue. I’d rather you get right to the important pages — everything beyond this one.
— Chris M. Walsh is the founder of Fifty Grande. His hometown is Leominster, Mass.