Since “Playboy” recently published its final print issue, and since I’m reading a biography of publishing magnate Conde Nast on my tablet, I felt it appropriate to share my misgivings about magazines.
During the research phase of this column, I developed severe writer’s cramp while standing in a bookstore frantically scribbling down the names of the mind-numbing array of specialized-yet-overlapping periodicals. (Luckily, one of the magazines was the April issue of “Your Right to Loiter in A Bookstore If You $#@& Well Please Illustrated.”)
Maybe I’m overly nostalgic for the days when millions of Americans watched the same three TV channels and read the same general-interest magazines (“Life,” “Look,” “Family Circle,” “Saturday Evening Pliers for Changing TV Channels,” etc.). But I’m alarmed by the wretched excess of niche magazines for every hobby, profession, ethnicity, travel destination, political persuasion, vehicle ashtray model and level of skill at making bridesmaids’ lives a living hell.
Don’t get me wrong. I love magazines. I’m even one of those people whose eyes are bigger than his stomach and who (with the hope that springs eternal within the human breast) hauls discarded magazines home from the library demonstrably faster than he can read them. (“If we quietly move the bed and the microwave onto the deck and don’t do anything to antagonize the heap of magazines, maybe it won’t attack us.”)
I can’t read my scrawled notes, but I think there really was a “Northern Hemisphere Invertebrates Whose Eyes Are Bigger Than Their Stomachs Monthly” on the bookstore’s magazine shelves.
Spinoff magazines add to the clutter. There’s “Teen Vogue,” “Very Interesting Junior,” “National Geographic Little Kids.” The dental offices of 2035 will doubtless feature late-2020 issues of “AARP Magazine: The In Utero Edition.”
I’ll admit that some of the magazines sound like they’d make absolutely brilliant ONE-SHOT publications. But, realistically, how can they keep delivering on the hype month after month after month? When the cover of a survivalist magazine touts “25 more essential survival skills,” it makes me feel sad for the poor losers who kicked off LAST year (you know, 300 essential survival skills ago!!!!!).
It’s not just survivalists. Are there REALLY 75 sizzling new sex secrets, 50 all-new kale-and-Pop Tarts recipes, 42 unprecedented mullets and 63 must-have tattoos based on the video game Pong each and every month?
These claims are about as trustworthy as a live-in lover promising you, “Baby, here are 25 MORE exciting reasons you should forget about that gun-in-the-face incident last night and continue letting me crash on the couch all day while you work three jobs to pay for my beer and weed.”
I know the ubiquitous “word search” magazines are supposed to keep you mentally sharp, but how sharp is it when the only word you can think of to reply to an internet scam is “Certainly!”?
As a bookworm and writer, I don’t want to dash cold water on anyone’s love of reading; but it can’t be healthy to spend ALL your time indoors curled up with “The Journal of Belly Lint Shaped Like the Lesser-Known 19th-century Vice Presidents.” Sometimes you simply have to feel the sunshine, breathe the fresh air and actually gather up the belly lint shaped like…
Sigh. Could somebody just locate a subscriber to “Homemade Prison Shivs of the Mid-70s” and let him put Mr. Belly Lint Collector out of his misery?