Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Eenie Meenie Magazine Moe

A magazine subscription is a big commitment (OK, for me), you’ll be dealing with this partner for at least a year on a regular basis. So you can’t just pull the three-minute dating routine and subscribe to anything – you have to get a few issues, check out the writing over a bit of time and get to know them personally.

Here are the contenders.

1. The New Yorker
This magazine has been on my radar for sometime. (Thanks Jim, for the reinforcement.) It’s a solid magazine – a lot of excellent world reporting, decent fiction, and it isn’t too “New York-centric.”

I’m also sick of so many people starting conversations with “I read about so-and-so in The New Yorker – did you see that…” It must be a popular magazine with people that like talking about things they read in a magazine. These conversations always make me feel like an uneducated boob that should go back to his trailer and see if Bertha-mae has finished cleanin' my gun.

This magazine came up a lot when The New Yorker did a cover story on the gay community and crystal meth. Unfortunately, I got a lot of the “As a gay man, what do you think about that?” or, worse “As a gay man, tell me, is it all true?” Avoid this.

I usually countered with “As a straight person, what do you think about Britney Spears’ quickie marriage in Las Vegas? Is it true that straight people do that?” Don’t ask me to speak for an entire community unless you are willing to do the same.

But I’ve rambled. I can’t hold my friends against the New Yorker. Not for long anyway, the newsprint would rub off on their skin.

In other small ways The New Yorker bothers me. Face it, it’s pretentious. They use an umlaut in the word “cooperation.” They publish some really odd (I'd say "bad" but there I go being uneducated again) poetry.

2. Discover Magazine
I didn’t expect this one to be on here. A monthly – NOT published by the Discovery Channel – it wasn’t even a contender until I saw a copy in the airport with a cover story on string theory. Ever since I watched that three hour documentary from NOVA on string theory, I’m freaking hooked.

The rest of the magazine was really good as well. It reminded me of why I love science (my first major in college was biology before I transferred to the business school.) and the magazine doesn’t dumb things down like others.

At the same time, the magazine is not overly technical and is approachable. It has its share of fun stories like any other magazine, but they are about dinosaurs, not Jude Law’s penis. Also, in a bit of coincidence, I visit their website all the time when I am trying to pay my Discover Card bill online.

On the other hand, Discover isn’t a weekly, it’s a monthly. I’m usually almost always ready for a new magazine, and a month is a long time between fixes. I’ve only been able to read one issue, what if that one was a fluke of great editing?

3. Radar
Pop. Culture. Politics. Glamour. Gossip. This mantra – printed on the cover of every issue – sums up Radar better than I could. It’s a mixed bag – seemingly not dedicated to a genre, which could be its saving grace, or its demise.

Magazines seem to be all about demographics now-a-days. I like it so far (it’s only published two issues), they’ve included interesting articles on Tom Cruise and Scientology, Kanye West and Hillary Clinton.

It’s fresh. (to use an overused buzz word.)

The downside, obviously, is that I’m not sure this magazine will hang around for the 12 months of my subscription. It could go the way of Talk magazine, another of my past favorites – which Radar reminds me of. (Another personal favorite, gone too soon? George magazine.)

Also to consider, Radar is a monthly.

Enough for today. I sound like a magazine freak. (I am a magazine freak.)

Next: The Winner


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