Uncle Larry's Magazine Rack Funtime Family Mailbag

I asked for questions. Y'all responded in kind. Without further ado, then, here's the first edition of Uncle Larry's Magazine Rack Funtime Family Mailbag. Some are reproduced verbatim, some are a composite of 20 variations on the same query. Now, leave me alone.

What qualifies you to write this column?

Well, I can read. That's pretty much the long and short of it.

Which magazines are doing good jobs with their online presence?

I can't get enough of's "TV Watch" recaps/analyses for the shows I like or the site's frequent reviews of the top 10 songs of years past. While working on a story about Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, I was quite impressed by how ably the company has translated its print content for Web consumption, even though I'm not in the market for a peach cobbler recipe about now.

What do you read?

Books, mostly. James Ellroy, Richard Russo and Pete Dexter are my current holy trinity. I can't say enough good things about the book currently on my night table: "Homicide: A Year on the Killing Streets," by David Simon. Oh, you mean magazines? That's right, this is a column about magazines. Sports Illustrated remains my favorite mag, even if they took me off the comp list, with Runner's World, Entertainment Weekly and The Week not too far behind. All four connect with my primary areas of interest, and do so in a way that simultaneously entertains and enlightens. It's that darn simple.

Will you review [name of magazine here]?

Yes. No. Maybe. Send me a copy, and I'll be happy to take a look at it. My mailman already loathes me, so there's nothing to be lost by dropping a few extra pounds o' paper into his mail sack.

You're great! I love you! Will you read my blog?

Not regularly, unless your name is Alex Belth, Jessica Coen, Whitney Matheson or Buster Olney. Flattery will get you nowhere, except if it is accompanied by really cool graft. My shoe size is 8.5, and my favorite color is grey. I can be bought.

How accurately can a man review magazines aimed at females?

I'm very in touch with my feminine side. Just the other day, I actually wiped up the spillage after I chugged milk from the bottle and unleashed a stentorian belch. I guess the answer to this one is a non-answer: You just try to set aside your gender biases and evaluate what's in front of you as evenhandedly and open-mindedly as possible. I'd argue that one can appreciate the skill with which, say, Every Day With Rachael Ray or Transworld SKATEboarding is assembled, no matter what kind of plumbing one has downstairs.

Why don't you review trade magazines or online-only magazines?

Wow! Two good questions in a row! Most trades are too obscure and/or narrowly focused for consideration in a generalist column like this one, though I should probably get around to Variety and its ilk one of these days. Pit & Quarry? Maybe not. As for online/digital magazines, I won't review one of 'em until somebody comes up with a better device for reading them. No disrespect to the handful of online-magazine-reader thingies out there, but they all give me a headache.

I enjoy Larry Dobrow's Magazine Rack articles. But could he put less of himself in them?

I'll ask him. I don't think he'd go for it. He's a little self-obsessed, you know.

Who publishes Motorcycle Escape?

Primedia. Sadly, I learned yesterday that the issue we reviewed on Tuesday will be the magazine's last. Dumb call by the bean counters upstairs on this one.

You don't really listen to Stevie Nicks, do you?

Heavens, no. I'll proudly admit to digging the "Tusk" album, though.

How about a little more research than reading a single issue before your penetrating analysis?

How about you do a little more research before your penetrating analysis of my penetrating analysis? I know you are, but what am I? Oh, snap. I'd do research and all, but one, it'd take a whole lot of time, and I'm not getting paid enough as is; and two, digging deep would go against the spirit of the column, which was/is envisioned as one dude's fast take on an issue currently on magazine racks nationwide. I don't pretend to be a genius, but I'm pretty sure I can get the gist of any magazine without first investigating its genesis. And let's be honest: It's not like I'm influencing any ad-purchasing decisions with these things; they're written more to entertain than to inform.

What's your take on Real Simple vs. Blueprint? Do you think these relatively new "generalist" magazines are somehow a response to the increasingly niche nature of magazines?

Nope. Frankly, I think they're just smart ideas executed exceedingly well, rather than a deliberate attempt to buck a trend. In this media climate (note: I refuse to use the word "fragmented" to describe it), any magazine publisher that attempts to be all things to all people is going to lose a ton of cash. Niche is the word. Blueprint looks pretty darn good out of the gate, BTW.

Do you really have a beef with "Mr. Magazine" Samir Husni?

Of course not. I just get a kick out a grown man dubbing himself "Mr. Magazine." I've asked you in the past to call me "El Maestro De La Magazinos"; if possible, please change that to "Le Bon Jolie Homme de la Print."

That's all I got. Thanks for reading and for all the cool notes.

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