Posts Tagged ‘Magazines



One of Jeff’s hobbies, when he comes home from work, is pointing out all the news I missed that day, which usually is a lot. Actually, it’s not something he likes to do. He’s usually exasperated that I don’t know, he being a journalist, the news being his life. But I always feel like an uninformed idiot around him.

Sometimes he tries to trick me. “Oh, Madonna had a heart attack today!” he’ll say.

“No she didn’t,” I’ll calmly reply. “And the reason I know is that I did happen to read earlier that she and Guy are denying the divorce rumors. There was nothing about a heart attack.”

Sometimes it’s feasible, and he’ll get me.

“Another pope dead? Already?”

“Oh my god! How many planes can crash in one day?”

“Why would they put a military base so close to a dog pound?”

It makes me panic. Can I really know so little about the world?

Fifteen people were rescued from six years of captivity in Colombia yesterday. It’s a huge deal. One was a Colombian presidential candidate six years ago. Three are American. You can forgive me for not knowing the particulars; a lot of people have been kidnapped in Colombia. But their release is something I should have caught.

Of course, the ridiculousness that I knew more about Madonna’s marital status was not lost on me.

I used to be a news junkie. I listened to public radio all day long, and on weekends, like it was my job. (In fact public radio was my job at one time, but that’s not what I mean.) I would read a few stories on BBC News online every day. I was never much for daily newspapers, but I would read the Sunday New York Times every week.

Now I hardly ever listen to public radio. It’s too distracting at work, and I don’t like WNYC’s evening or weekend schedule (the good shows come on too early). So thank god for podcasts.

The Sunday Times still stacks up week after week. Sometimes I make a pretense of removing the blue plastic bag. But usually it just sits there, where I’ve kicked it out of the way the previous week.

I can’t say why I lost my enthusiasm, or how, or even when. But I wish I had it back.

One saving grace: I read The Economist now. The economic analysis is a bit over my head, but it’s great to get a non-American perspective on American politics. Its international news coverage is excellent and digestible. And sometimes my favorite stories are from its science and technology section. My favorite thing about The Economist is that it is clearly a magazine, but it refers to itself as a newspaper. Very cute.

On the way home from the subway last night, I saw a lot of men crowding around storefronts and bodegas and the front widows of bars. Each time I passed I could see they were staring up at a soccer game on TV. Don’t ask me who was playing, but I live in a very South American neighborhood, and soccer is a big deal here.

Many if not most of those men were Columbian. I wonder how many of them knew about the hostage news.


My Kingdom for a Shredder

Thumbing through the— excuse me, attempting to thumb through The New Yorker or The Economist, my best attempts at quietly turning pages are often thwarted by a vile, vicious advertising technique: heavy paper stock.

Running my thumbnail along the edges of the pages to find my place doesn’t work anymore. I hit a heavy-stock ad and stumble, and 10, 15, who knows how many pages skip on past. I have to open the magazine at ad’s point of insertion. Then I rip out the offensive page in one swift stroke, crinkle it up and stuff it in my bag or pocket so I can drop it into a trash can (or burn it) later. Then I count over one by one to find my place.

Of course this is the point. They want the magazine to open to these pages. If the thing should drop, they want it naturally (or unnaturally) to fall open to their special place.

Subscription cards used to be the worst of it. Opening up a magazine, several would come flying out in all directions. They still do.

Surprise! Remember me? Subscribe to me!

I am often amused when people pick them up and hand them to me — as if I want the thing, as if it isn’t a blessing to be momentarily rid of it. But I have to take it, don’t I? Or face the shame of being a litterbug.

Sometimes I go through a magazine first thing and rip out all the crap and shake it upside down until the cards fall out. I curl the volume in my hands, undulating it this way and that, relishing its supple pliability. I marvel at the ability to open it to any page of my choosing at will. Then I read, uninterrupted, as I speed through New York City’s tunnels.

Do they think this insistence on presenting itself will embed the ad further into my subconscious? I hardly see how. The only reaction I seem to have is to silently but vehemently curse the advertiser and throw away the ad as soon as I can. A pox on you, Microsoft! Oh, no. Maybe they are sticking!


Madonna Paradox

I won’t call it hypocrisy. I’ll be generous and call it a paradox.

It almost qualifies as irony. But we English majors know better.

What I’m talking about is Madonna’s insistence that she not only monitors the TV intake of her kids (good idea in my opinion), but she also neither watches TV nor reads newspapers nor magazines herself. Ever.

She, our like great nation’s source of illumination, George W. Bush, is intentionally media deprived. She says sometimes she listens to the BBC with husband Guy. She hears about the news of the world from conversations with friends.

Madonna, the queen of mass media, star of magazine cover and MTV, chooses to disregard the news. Sure, she ignores press about herself. This is just and good and fair. Besides, how tedious, boring and infuriating, right? But she also ignores news about the world? She does TRL. She does The View. She does Good Housekeeping. She does Ladies’ friggin Home Journal. She depends on the media. She is the media.

Yet, she holds herself above the very media her career depends on.

Don’t get me wrong, I loves me some Madge. But does this seem weird to anyone else?

the untallied hours