More than 20 years ago I lived in Massachusetts for two very long winters. In consecutive springs, I was shocked to drive down country roads and pass dozens of tall maple trees with pails nailed into
their trunks to collect thawing syrup. Maple Sugar Time is one of those quirky New England customs that defines the region --- like duckpin bowling, dropping Rs when speaking, or passionately rooting
for a baseball team that plays 86 seasons between World Series wins.
So, too, does Yankee
magazine define New England. Where I live now, in the New Haven area, it even occasionally
pops up in convenience stores or gas stations or supermarket checkout lines. Up in these parts it's not quite as ubiquitous as Democratic members of Congress (for the first time since 1854, not one
seat in New England's delegation to the House of Representatives belongs to a Republican). But the magazine is never hard to locate, either.
Of course, any metropolis in America big enough
to boast of a professional sports team or a sitcom setting already has a regional magazine. But the quality of so many of those periodicals is rather cookie-cutter, sustained by cover profiles of
local newscasters or advertorials disguised as "weekend getaway" vacations. In fact, I have a journalist friend who told me many such mags survive on the advertising generated by the annual Best Local
Pizza Issue or Best Local Ice Cream Issue or Best Local Dentists Issue (chances are each of the winners and runners-up bought at least a quarter-page ad).Yankee
is different. It's
not about the Best Haircut in Vermont or the Best Chinese Take-Out in Rhode Island. Take the March/April issue as an example. The feature "History in the Making" focuses on photographer Tim
Llewellyn's coverage of Barack Obama's campaign strategizing in New Hampshire last year. In a breaking-news world, such a piece may seem ancient now, but as the title implies, this is about history
rather than headlines. The portrait that emerges of our new President is best summed up by this observation from Llewellyn: "My father, who had voted Republican in an uninterrupted streak that ran for
50 years, voted for a Democrat last November."
That said, Yankee
underwent a format change a few years ago and is now of average magazine size, unlike the shorter, squatter
of many decades. It's now jam-packed with smaller advertisements in the front of the book, while the back is bursting with ads in an almost PennySaverish format. But it's the editorial
content that at times seems to need a boost:
The piece "Lost in the Last Green Valley" opens with a detailed assessment of what the final stretch of unspoiled land in
northeastern Connecticut looks like from on high; so why not provide a satellite image or similar graphic to reinforce the point?
Similarly, in "Fresh Start" the
idea of surveying local chefs to spill their favorite "spring ingredient" recipes makes for a great feature, but why not provide contact information for the restaurants where they
The magazine's strong point is longer features, like "Along the Border," which provides a fascinating examination of how the "friendliest border in the world" between the U.S. and
Canada has been revamped since 9/11, causing a massive drop-off in crossings. For New England locals, this issue contains lots of compelling reading, including a helpful guide to experiencing ten epic
events over the next year. And there's plenty about those Red Sox.
The main thing is that no one can accuse the Yankee staff of forgetting its roots. In fact, there's a sort of
telescoping quality to the term Yankee that this publication has been celebrating since its inception in 1935. Some foreigners refer to all Americans as Yanks, of course, while Southerners use it to
depict the Union states. Yet within the North itself, Yankee means New England (and oh how diehard Red Sox Nation fans must viscerally react to being tarred with the brand name of the Derek
Jeter/A-Rod/Steinbrenner Evil Empire itself). And so Yankee magazine celebrates all that is New England, and for the most part does so in a way that interests those beyond its borders.
And that's what makes it unique among regional mags: Many who don't care at all about New England would still find it an interesting read. And not every metropolis can boast of a magazine like
Published by: Yankee Publishing Inc.
Frequency: 6 times per year
Web site: www.yankeemagazine.com