Still, the launch issue of New England's newest regional pub dresses up nice. My advice: lose the period, push the pub.
First, because any non-food mag that celebrates pie on the cover is a keeper. Yap all you want about a state's "distinctive cultural landscape," but if you don't understand the hierarchy of baked goods, I doubt you'll appreciate the virtue of making wine in a former dairy barn in Warren. Or that Grain Surfboards in York crafts its wooden boards by hand. Of course, the shot of a surfer, captioned "the anxiety and anticipation," was a shade Twyla Tharp in stance, but the remaining photos of the Maine swells were fantastic.
Those who only associate Maine with blueberries, L.L. Bean and Kennebunkport are in for a pleasant surprise. The Pine Tree State boasts world-class dining and lodging, creative business entrepreneurs and several esteemed colleges: Colby, Bates and Bowdoin. It's also got 60 lighthouses. Which is a fun fact if you, like me, find them compelling symbols of America's nautical past.
But Maine.'s goal is to focus on the future. The magazine, from the publishers of Maine Home+Design, trumpets the people and the places that make the state unique.
The "Profiles" were apparently slugged by a census taker: Heidi Julavits: writer, editor, mother, Mainer (Again with the reminders!) or Brian Smith: winemaker, organic grape grower, father, oenological explorer. (Was organic winemaker taken?) The subjects themselves, however, were interesting.
Julavits, who's written four books and edits The Believer, a literary magazine, divides her time between New York and summers in Maine. Conversely, Smith, whose 2-year-old Oyster River Winegrowers has fermented acclaimed reds and whites, has planted roots, literally. A pioneer vintner -- Maine has less than 10 acres of producing grape vines -- he hopes to cultivate grapes that are best for the region.
Each issue features "Agenda," a roundup of things to do, like art shows and festivals, and "48 Hours in," which profiles a town or city. This issue it's Belfast, a bay city that's gentrified, but retains a local flavor. The six new Portland restaurants showcased in "Eatland" are a reminder that creative culinary delights are here for the sampling. (Figa promises "a funky, eclectic menu," Peking duck and coconut cake side by side.) And judging by the mag's ads, so is an upscale lifestyle.
What I miss are the regional distinctions I remember as a kid. New England had crabs and fishermen and a rugged coastal history, versus the Midwest, famed as the nation's breadbasket. Pennsylvania produced steel and coal; California made movies. Now, every Main Street has a Starbucks, 24/7 cable news made the world -- and our minds -- smaller (save for Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert) and trendy arts, cuisine and attitude proliferate in hamlets and metropolises alike. And every revamped seaport -- from New York to Baltimore -- looks the same.
Here's the upside: Maine, a slickly produced pub, has much to savor. It salutes the hip, but remembers the homespun.
Frequency: 10 times/year
Published by: Thomas Kelley Publishing