The June issue of Urb pulled me in with a banner across the top of its cornea-burning lime-green cover: "Gay and Gangsta in L.A." Outside of the obvious -- that some low-thinking producer has just found his next wacky sitcom premise -- the headline sizzles because it's punchy, provocative and just a little bit weird. But Urb is worthy of perusal beyond that. The mag, which chronicles the underground L.A. music and style scenes, is the publication that Giant wakes up every morning wishing it could be. It comes across as a slightly less arty left-coast equivalent of Mass Appeal. …
At last month's National Magazine Awards ceremony, New York magazine blew the roof off the joint, (and it was Lincoln Center -- a fancy joint) when its editors carted away a total of five awards, including one for general excellence for a second year in a row, another for the Strategist section, and another for design.e mag's new Fashion Week blog also won in an interactive category.) Not incidentally, the venerable New Yorker, yes, the New Yorker, won nothing.
Family Fun, has less in common with its critter-celebrating Disney Publishing siblings than it does Child or Parenting. The mag is proudly anti-consumerism, favoring crafts projects and healthy recipes over plugs for "The Little Mermaid 3: Ariel Takes the PSAT." A parent who takes every one of the June issue's suggestions to heart will have enough fodder to occupy his or her child through the entire summer. Me, I think most of the proposed activities are silly and dull.
The new American Songwriter -- it got bought and revamped a few years back -- is a distinctly different magazine from the one I remember. From a design perspective, the mag has charged into the 21st century, stuffing itself with photo-illustrations and fonts both thin and thick. And when the mag sticks to its core mission, it offers wonderful insights into the songwriting process rendered with obvious passion.
Do you have a Park Avenue pied-a-terre? First, I never go uptown unless there is an art or editorial emergency. Second, if I had a pied-a-terre, which is French for place to enjoy infidelity, I'd look for someplace more romantic than Park Ave. For openers, you can't find a liquor store. Plus, there are far more interesting neighborhoods in New York -- find one with a little pizzazz. Even if your secondary abode is strictly that -- a place to relax when you come to Manhattan -- have fun with it. And if you can afford such luxuries, you're probably …
Alas, there are people out there who want you to read about TV and, probably, dance about architecture. They toil for a company called Titan Magazines, which produces bimonthly mags on shows with particularly rapacious fans ("Lost," "24," "Smallville," "Grey's Anatomy," a few others). I should add that they appear to be successful at what they do. Which doesn't mean that they're any good, nor that there's a pressing reason for them to exist. TV diehards tend be obsessive about their weekly tune-ins, but they sure don't lack for ways to indulge their fandom.
I can't muster anything besides admiration for Fine Homebuilding's annual Houses issue. A gorgeously presented compilation of building and design concepts, Houses surveys bungalow, ranch and cottage with aplomb, appending its every spread with the information (aerobic septic systems, structural panels, a bunch of other stuff beyond my limited comprehension) that fix-'er-uppers need. This is a magazine that sweats the details -- think Architectural Digest for the hard-core DIY set.
So which gender has the best guide to hotter sex, tighter abs, and cancer prevention? We pitted Rodale's Men's Health, the major male-oriented health pub (although 16% of its circulation is female), against Time Inc.'s Health, which is totally targeted to women. Here's how each mag stacks up.
The small, regional MOM Magazine traffics in common-sense parenting and the sharing of life experiences. As opposed to most parenting mags, it avoids product flotsam (I didn't notice a single brand name in any of the May/June issue's stories) and trite life/parent balance tips ("Need a break? Take a long, hot bath! Use a fragrant soap, even!"). So yeah, I like MOM Magazine a lot in theory. In execution? Not quite as much.
I'm not a gossip guy, which isn't to suggest that I consider myself intellectually above pinhead pursuits. And yet I kinda dig the Enquirer. The mag practically basks in its low-mindedness, appending its most shocking declarations with a string of exclamation points and landing many an agenda-laden cheap shot (like an out-of-nowhere reference to Alec Baldwin as "Bozo McBoom-Boom"). At the same time, outside of gossip grand dame People, few weekly titles can match the Enquirer's skillful presentation.