Tag Archives: magazine

Subscription Saturday: Rolling Stone

At the close of last year, I caved in to the temptation to subscribe to several magazines. I don’t know what it was; something about the new year made me think I could read more, like paying for gym membership makes you think you’ll work out more.

And so I’ve received several issues of Rolling Stone magazine (among others), and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future. One year, to be precise. The good news is, it’s not so bad.

The biweekly magazine is slim and shiny, with short, flashy stories to match. This is perfect reading on my commute, with a mix of music news and artist briefs combined with longer-form offerings. I enjoy flipping through the pages, but–unlike other publications–I don’t feel guilty if I skip the big stories, because I know another issue will arrive in no time.

The one thing about Rolling Stone that I knew about ahead of time, but was not entirely prepared for, is its strong liberal bias—especially anything by Matt Taibbi. My fear in reading very liberal publications is that I am setting up an echo chamber; perhaps I am too sensitive to the fear, but it makes me take current affairs pieces with a grain of salt. All coverage of Occupy Wall Street, for instance, feels very slanted, but even a piece about Michele Bachmann’s high school suicide zone feels biased against the very conservative politician. On issues of great importance to me, I don’t want to have to worry whether I am getting a certain “version” of the facts.

That being said, however, there are still many things to like about Rolling Stone. While coverage is tilted toward the rock greats that gave the publication its reputation, the magazine also focuses on a range of artists from many genres. I’ve enjoyed learning more about Florence and the Machine, Lana Del Ray, and the Black Keys, to name a few–even if I don’t end up becoming their biggest fans. (OK, I realize that those examples aren’t exactly busting up genre, but those are the profiles I’ve read most recently.)

Interviews with celebs like George Clooney strain to be racy, but I still liked hearing about him. And if the worst thing they can say is that he feels immense pressure to succeed–like so many others that the magazine profiles–well, that’s not so bad.

And every once in a while, I find a journalistic gem–a unique story that makes me perk up and forget what time it is. “Santiago’s Brain” is a good example. It is a profile of a 13-year-old genius–er, “exceptionally gifted” student–named Santiago Gonzalez who programs apps and reads math textbooks for fun. Beyond simply reveling in the mind-blowing power of this kid’s brain, the article also addresses a dearth of programs in the United States for gifted–much less exceptionally gifted–children.

Other stories catch my eye as a writer on the lookout for new ideas. A one-page article about Silk Road, a mysterious e-commerce site for black-market goods that puts Craigslist to shame, piqued my curiosity in the heretofore unheard-of online sale of illicit materials and substances–not, of course, because I am interested in using their services, but because I would love to profile someone who has! That’s a clip to be filed away for later.

More than anything, Rolling Stone is a magazine to entertain and titillate, and it does so more or less reliably. I never read it in its heyday, when rock ruled the radio, but I imagine the comparison would not be favorable to today’s publication. But it is still a fun guilty-pleasure read on the metro, and there’s nothing wrong with that!

The Verdict

Subscribe for a Year | Buy an Issue | Read at the Library

Subscription Saturday is a way for me to keep track of the print and digital publications that I’ve been reading lately.

Interested? Read it for yourself! Buy an issue or subscription to Rolling Stone from Amazon.

I receive a very, very small commission when you purchase a magazine through the above links. Thank you for helping to support my site–and my book addiction!

Subscription Saturday: Bitch

Called the “feminist response to pop culture,” Bitch magazine is an excellent resource for progressive women and men, whether you identify with the “feminist” moniker or not. (But it helps if you do.) I began reading issue #52, the red issue.

From a design perspective, the creative and modern layout and adherence each issue’s theme are home runs. But the true triumph is the prose: it is smart without being esoteric, edgy without being offensive, mischievous without being crude.

I was first impressed by an examination of the sterile sexual phrase “get it in” on MTV’s Jersey Shore. At one point, Christine Seifert writes, “‘Getting it in’ is hardly different than finding yourself at an exclusive club, at which you can check in on Facebook using your iPhone.” This is feminism? I wondered. I just think this is smart and interesting analysis!

I then moved on to a piece by Avital Norman Nathan about gender stereotype-eschewing “princess boys.” I was surprised to learn that until the early twentieth century, the color pink was associated with men because it was seen as a diminutive of masculine reds. It was only when the mass production of clothing and toys caught on that the division in colors occurred. Manufacturers discovered that “the more you individualize items based on gender, the more products parents will feel compelled to buy.” So these boys are also bucking the consumer mentality that dominates our culture? Way to go, guys!

But by far, the best part of this edition of Bitch were the two big pieces on literature: “Uneasy A” by Erin Gilbert and “Sealing the Deal” by Jessica Jernigan. Both of these essays were fun, informative pieces that explored different feminist themes in literature. Gilbert looked at adultery and anger among women in books, while Jernigan introduced a fresh perspective on the wet and wild world of selkie romance novels. Even if I weren’t an enormous book nerd, I think I would have enjoyed their cutting analyses and relevant discussions of important topics through the lens of literature.

The only part of the magazine that I didn’t like was the positive review of Sapphire’s The Kid. I think I can say without qualification that I hated that book. But hey, you can’t win ‘em all. Aside from that minor bump in the road, Bitch magazine is a fantastic publication that I immediately subscribed to upon finishing this edition.

The Verdict

Subscribe for a Year | Buy an Issue | Read at the Library

Subscription Saturday is a way for me to keep track of the print and digital publications that I’ve been reading lately.

Subscription Saturday: Vanity Fair

I first became interested in Vanity Fair because of Ned Zeman’s entertaining and creative profile of himself, The Rules of the Tunnel. Zeman is a contributing editor to VF, and his portrayal of characters like Graydon Carter and Sebastian Junger–both bigshots at the magazine–were high points of the memoir.

Then I saw that this month‘s cover featured Johnny Depp, with a special story from Michael Lewis, and I was sold. Who can resist those guys?

The profile of Johnny, done by a self-confessed long-time friend, was a little distracting. Depp comes across as a hard-drinking, chain-smoking, workaholic gambler. Not that that’s a bad thing, and maybe it’s an accurate depiction, but to me it looks like smoke and mirrors–a clever propagation of Depp’s myth as a badass and a genius that doesn’t really get to the heart of anything.

Plus, the pictures of him look like they were taken 20 years ago. Really, no wrinkles at all? And what’s up with those terrible tattoos? Please.

Speaking of celebrities in search of the fountain of youth, Courtney Love seems as deranged as ever. The profile of her reminded me of her unusual cameo in Neil Strauss’s The Game, which thankfully distracted me from the disturbing particulars of Ms. Love’s latest obsessions.

All that aside, VF excels in the serious longform journalism tucked between glossy photo shoots of stars.

Simon Johnson and James Kwak’s “Mad Hatter History” was a fascinating and informative history of tax rebellions that was somehow a pleasure to read. The article places the current agendas of the Tea Party in the context of the policies enacted by the founding fathers they admire so much to interesting effect.

James Wolcott’s memoir excerpt about arriving in New York City armed with a letter from Norman Mailer and dreams of working at the Village Voice was an interesting, if a little self-congratulatory, look at another world. He’s a good writer, though–obviously–and I’m curious to read the book.

Graydon Carter’s history of Anderson & Sheppard suits was a little too exhaustive for me, but reading the first few pages made me want to write a short story about tailors, which I think is a good thing.

It was Michael Lewis for the win, though, in his special report “Will California Sink the U.S.?” He writes about how the debt crisis has settled heavily upon the shoulders of municipal governments. His interview with Arnold Schwarzenegger is unique and fast-paced, but I enjoyed the interviews with mayors and fire chiefs–the little guys–much more. I admit it, I’m a Lewis convert.

In all, I was impressed by the level of writing I found in Vanity Fair–not that I was surprised–and I enjoyed the mix of politics and pop culture. I’ll definitely buy another issue, but I’ll opt for a print version for sure. The perfume wafting from the glossy pages reminded me that this is a magazine.

The Verdict

Subscribe for a Year | Buy Another Issue | Read at the Library

Subscription Saturday is a way for me to keep track of the print and digital publications that I’ve been reading lately.

Interested? Read it for yourself! Buy an issue or subscription to Vanity Fair from Amazon.

I receive a very, very small commission when you purchase a magazine through the above link. Thank you for helping to support my site–and my book addiction!