On its surface, practically everything about HoBo reeks of professionalism. The mag speaks passionately about engaging in high-minded dialogue with the era's preeminent cultural figures. It presents the most minimalist, would-be-elegant photo spreads this side of Interview. It serves up warm appreciations of films like "Run Lola Run" and train travel. But for its unfortunate name, which evokes thoughts of exotically scented vagrants, HoBo would appear to be one of the few cultural journals with a chance to break through the hoity-toity clutter.

So why is it that I couldn't get through the mag's Fall/Winter issue without wanting to slug somebody? Seriously -- if I were forced to read HoBo on a regular basis, I'd be on the receiving end of more restraining orders than Naomi Campbell. The pseudo-intellectual pretentiousness that wafts from its every page simply can't be captured in words, or at least not in words that wouldn't land me on the government watch list. I'm pissed that I have to spend the next 32 minutes or so reliving it.

Here's how HoBo describes its fashion spread with French actress Ludivine Sagnier: "The actress is shot between two takes of an imaginary movie, embodying her own life." Here's the mag pontificating on the issue's central theme, "In Memory of Time": "We are hurtling towards the future at sixty minutes an hour... 'Time' and 'Money' are songs from Pink Floyd's 'Dark Side of the Moon.' They are also inventions that sustain us and imprison us." Here's a "question" posed during the interview with Robin Wright Penn: "I think you need the opportunity to surf a different kind of feeling, because you are good at surfing feelings."

I mean, for Pete's sake. We have a First Amendment for this?

(Separately: who is Pete?)

The worst offender is Brian Hendricks, whose "In Memory of Time" essay strains to provide a unifying context for the issue's words and images. Pinching obvious quotes from "The Great Gatsby" and Proust, the piece feels as if it were written by a particularly self-serious college sophomore. "How do we remember our own lives?," the author asks. "By a song, a TV show, a book, an email? Or by a chance encounter down on the wharf front?" Uh, what's this about a wharf?

Hendricks has company. I'm all in favor of sustaining the planet and such, but HoBo trumpets its decision to use "100% recycled, 100% post-consumer waste, chlorine free and Ancient Forest Friendly paper" as if it has personally saved a large swath of the rain forest. While I certainly buy into the "think global, act local" thing, here's the problem: It ain't like HoBo, with a circulation that likely doesn't come close to cracking six figures, is doing all that much damage on its own. And by shifting to the weirdly textured, slightly grimy paper, it renders all of its photo spreads -- one of the mag's central raisons d'etre -- dull and dark, as if the photographers forgot to use a flash.

You like the little lapse into French in that last sentence? HoBo goes that route for a full story, which my limited memory of high-school French tells me has something to do with British Columbia and the rumpled models who cavort, like tree nymphs, therein. A quick chat with songstress KT Tunstall, an appreciation of "The Deer Hunter" that does little more than rehash its plot, three dated reactions to last summer's Israel/Lebanon tilt... Move along, folks, nothing to see here.

Positives? For the randy among us, one or two of the painstakingly artful photo spreads feature a hint of nipple. And nobody, not even Mr. Memory of Time, could mess up a conversation between Tim Robbins and Eddie Vedder.

I'm not big on simple, declarative statements, but I'll spare everybody the pretense of a big finish and just say that I loathe most everything about HoBo. Readers who can't find better material to occupy their idle hours -- not to mention high-end advertisers who can't find better media venues for their extra cash -- aren't looking very hard.


Hi, everybody (hi, Dr. Nick!). I'll be doing a readers' mailbag thingie on Thursday, so send your questions, complaints, anecdotes and anything else you'd like me to address to

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