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Category Archives: Paper

Magazines? So 20th Century

Slate’s Jack Shafer ruminates on what makes a magazine great and selects Chicago-based Stop Smiling as a shining example in a world of dross. I gotta look into that. Although I now get most of my non-book reading done online, there’s an intimacy in holding and paging through a nice, smart mag which is definitely missed staring slack-jawed at a monitor.

I could so relate to the opening paragraphs in that article, having been something of a magazine junkie awhile back. Reflecting on publications I subscribed to in the years 1990-95: Rolling Stone, Spin, Raygun, The Village Voice, The Nation, Utne Reader, Entertainment Weekly, Artforum, MacWorld, Wired, Interview, Harpers Bazaar, Details, The New Yorker. Of those, only Entertainment Weekly remains a regular fixture in our mailbox (although the mag, having gotten progressively dumber in the last few years, is straining my last nerve).

Two Pictures

Too, too funny — The Daily Show‘s John Hodgman appropriated an old George Plimpton Intellivision ad to promote the paperback edition of his book, The Areas of My Expertise. Whoever designed this did an excellent job, although I have to admit that Hodgman looks kind of stiff next to the suavetude that is Plimpton. On his weblog, Hodgman graciously linked to my flickr profile (I uploaded a scan of it to my Videogame Ads 1982 set ten months ago). Now I’m getting lots of flickr traffic — Plimpton’s ad has racked up an impressive 17,663 views. Not bad for a dead guy.

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Breck or Blecch?

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The task of assembling a Housewife Ads of the ’70s flickr set is ending up a tougher job than I imagined. So far I just have hair care products and toys, with more to follow. These ads are proving difficult to scan, with every wrinkle and dot pattern magnified tenfold on the finished files. It’s as if, starting Jan. 1 1970, the collective publishers of Good Housekeeping, Woman’s Day, Family Circle and McCall’s decided to print everything using the crappiest paper and cheapest inks they could find. I admit this stuff has limited appeal, but it’s fun to come across things like 5¢ off coupons for Hamburger Helper — so enjoy.

Here Today, Gone Tome-orrow

Here’s a heads-up for fans of Taschen’s All-American Ads books. I’ve acquired most of these hefty collections of vintage ads over the past year, having just got the ’40s volume a couple of weeks ago. It’s great as usual, with lots of pages of beautiful illustrations. If you’re thinking about getting that particular one, better move fast — Taschen marked the book “sold out” in their latest catalog and no longer lists it on their website. Since the ’40s and ’50s were the two earliest volumes published (in 2002), that might possibly mean that Taschen is taking All American Ads of the 40s out of print. Looks like you can still buy it at Amazon here, but for how long?

P.S. Pardon me for that awful entry title!

Like Burgess Meredith in The Twilight Zone

My friend Eric showed me Library Thing a few weeks ago, and now I’ve finally gotten around to trying it out. You can catalogue your book collection there and compare it with other users. Kind of nifty. I reached 200 titles before the site asked me to cough up money for a paying membership. Having just gone through a $1,500 car repair bill, I decided to pass for now — but those first 200 books (about three quarters of the total library) are entered are right there on my profile for the world to see. The latest acquisitions are the 2003 All-Music Guide To Country, purchased used at the library for $5, and a New York Times crossword puzzle book bought at Borders last weekend.

I noticed that three bloggers I read have libraries listed there: John of Robot Johnny, William of Robot Action Boy, and Bibi of Bibi’s Box. Anybody else got a library to share?

We’ll Take Manhattan

A terrific read, don’t pass it up: James Wolcott’s nifty, personal history of The New Yorker magazine. This essay stemmed from a purchase of The Complete New Yorker and, like the author, I too have been using mine to get lost in the pages. Currently I’m going through the musical theatre reviews chronologically starting from January 1970. Having just read Ethan Mordden’s book on ’70s musicals, I wanted to check out what NYer theatre critic Brendan Gill (along with Edith Oliver, who covered Off-Broadway) thought of these productions when they were new. Gill was such an engaging, witty writer that even his pans are a vicarious pleasure — and reading them chronologically gives one a real feel of the seasons and shifting trends in musical theatre.

One interesting thing I found in these old issues is Rea Irwin’s wonderful masthead drawing for the magazine’s theatre department. This art was used from the first issue in 1925 all the way up to December 1978, only to be replaced with … nothing. Why William Shawn decided to yank it, we’ll never know.

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