On magazines and the merits of a stimulus package
Any joker can order a subscription to a magazine, but why limit yourself? Do you eat the same breakfast every day? Wear the same outfit? Listen to the same Andrew Bird album every single day for more than a year?
Actually, that last one’s me, but I’ve moved on, I promise. It’s possible that I have Ken Honeywell and Ben Blevins to thank. Sometime during the bleak days of last winter, Ken signed up the office for PRINtTEXT’s subscription service, AKA its “(Creative) Stimulus Package.”
And now, worlds rest upon our coffee table. They are different each month and handpicked by Blevins. He bops in, gives us a show and tell, and leaves behind about a half-dozen delicious magazines. So delicious, really, that magazine seems an inadequate word. The paper is a sensual experience, the illustrations and photographs sublime, the layouts a marvel.
We’re enjoying our service, I guess is what I’m saying. We’re enjoying the first-rate material for solo lunches, breaks under the sun, or the inevitable frustrating moments of creative malaise. Lemme show you what I mean.The Great Discontent
The office favorite by a wide margin. Kickstarter-launched from web to print in 2014, The Great Discontent is an American rag that’s all interviews—the Q&A kind that everyone knows is best—with people who make stuff. The focus is on how things start, and how they come together. It does not mess around. Within its covers are all the people you wish you were. But don’t feel bad: They’re telling you important things. Soak them in.
Perfect for languid mornings in a hammock while someone makes an intricate brunch for you. Also ideal for restoring joie de vivre after illness, heartbreak, or professional setback.
You know how there were 12 kids in your grade surnamed “Smith”? Same deal here. There is no exclusivity of topic here, no effete sense of boundary. Browsing the extensive table of contents for the autumn 2015 issue, I find a piece about Rufus Wainwright’s reaction to Britney Spears’s “…Baby One More Time,” one about an Italian photographer who takes pics of the superheroes of small towns, and another about “the ancient craft of flintknapping.” This last one is accompanied by a sweet pull-out illustration of stone tools. If The Great Discontent is a feast of introspection, Smith Journal is a thousand exquisite—and disparate—snacks.
Best enjoyed with an espresso and a gnawing sense that life is too unpredictable ever to begin an article longer than 1,500 words.
Unlike a lot of the magazines that come our way, this one is a fairly traditional literary rag—low on visuals, long on Deep Thinking and Serious Intent. It has been around for ages. It is all about the words, man, and they are mostly about culture and politics. Oh, how I want to be the person who reads this magazine. However, it feels sort of like a club I’d never be asked to join because I compulsively watch 30 Rock and don’t know anything about the situation in Turkmenistan. Then again, I spotted a misplaced only in the first article I skimmed.
Also contains fiction.
Meant to be carried around in a bag for a month and then finally withdrawn and placed on the table only to be ignored while eating a kale salad.
What a funny word—GUP. Aren’t you just predisposed to love this magazine? And you haven’t even seen the covers! Friends, they are beautiful and bracing, and there is good reason for that. GUP stands for Guide to Unique Photography. It calls itself “an international authoritative publication on photography,” and I will totally overlook that. The pictures are so pretty—so pretty, oh my god. It’s weirdly small for an art magazine but feels so satisfying in your hands. You may want to eat it. The colors. The intensity. The weird stuff you’ve never seen.
Equally right with a glass of wine on the sofa during a rainstorm, or on the toilet.
Makes me want to be a designer. Just ideal for spare layouts and arresting images. What’s it about? Travel, in a way. It’s divided into cities and shows you, in the most gorgeous way possible, facets of these places. It’s like an anti-National Geographic, with little bits of text and mysterious, dreamy photography. Consider it the burlesque of travel magazines—more titillating than revealing, following a steady thrum of intrigue.
Settle in with Cereal when you’re free to linger but have access to maps, Google, and someone to dream with.