If the folks at InStyle or Us Weekly are feeling litigious this afternoon, they oughta slip their attorneys a copy of the flaccid Cosmo spin-off Cosmopolitan Style & Beauty. Because even in these originality-free times, it's rare that a new publication so blatantly apes the competition. It's even rarer, in fact, that a new publication debuts without a basic existential premise.
I wish magazines like New York Spaces would stop giving bored, wealthy homeowners in the tri-state area so many damn ideas. Like any number of real-estate/design mags, it takes us inside the bathrooms and boudoirs of the hoitiest of the hoity-toity. Unfortunately, it does so in a way that can only be appreciated by those who prize composition over comfort.
The cover line on the August W offers "exclusive access to the season's ultimate shoes, bags and Jewels." Come on, that's like saying you read Playboy for the fiction. The true jewels (and ultimate bags) belong to Posh and Becks, who poutily grace the opening page, and who, with their near nakedness and matching platinum 'dos and tattoos, are determined to become, as the oversized fashion book puts it: "The New American Idols."
Tattoo mostly feels like a magazine written and produced for the publisher and his/her immediate circle of friends. Only two features -- "In the Skin," a holy-moly showcase of meticulously detailed body art, and "Francesco Fragomeni," which includes two shots of a dude with scenes from "The Divine Comedy" and an image of Da Vinci's "Vitruvian Man" on his torso -- realize the mag's artistic potential.
With my fantasy baseball team more or less set for the second half of the season, it falls on fantasy football to help me forestall confronting reality for the next six months. Happily, the publishers of America are up to the challenge, releasing their 2007 guides several weeks before training camps open their doors. I saw one on a newsstand on June 18, which marks the first time that any such title has broken the July 1 barrier. That's the publishing equivalent of the four-minute mile, and an achievement that demands multi-title Magazine Rack exaltation.
A magazine for the rich that even a financially strapped cynic can bear to read? Amazing! The one-year-old Contribute doesn't focus on those evergreen topics of upscale mags -- money-making or spending -- that would inspire boredom or envy in the less well-endowed. Instead, its mission is nobler and (to me, at least) more interesting: to "promote more effective giving" with "engaging and responsible coverage of the philanthropic world," according to the pub's Web site.
Late last week, Royal Flush arrived on my doorstep with nary a hint of press-release bombast. I'd never heard of or seen the magazine before, nor did I know anybody else who'd heard of or seen it. And it's great. A subversive mishmash of music, pop culture and underground art, Royal Flush displays more creativity in its first 25 pages than most publications do in a year.
Wend's mission is to inspire adventure. And judging by the stories -- kayaking the Channel Islands, climbing the forbidding Shaluli Shan Mountains in China and cycling across an unforgiving Australian outback -- it's as good as its word. There's a daring quality to the photos and a live-on-the edge ethos in print that should excite adventure and armchair travelers alike.
It's been a crudball week for magazines here in the U. S. of A., with Jane euthanized pre-menopause and Cocktail Weekly cut off before last call... hell, before first call. So in deference to my screwed-over publishing brethren -- we shall overcoommmmmme somedaaaaaaaaay -- I decided to turn my attention to the other side of the pond and a U.K. magazine, Tatler, that I see on just about every U.S. newsstand.
As a city guy and a half-plugged-in media commentator, I'm supposed to look down my nose at titles like Quick & Simple, because they don't aspire to do all that much -- a money-saving hint here, a recipe there. But really, at some point shouldn't we relax our intellectual and aesthetic standards a bit? Shouldn't we start acknowledging that certain magazines, like Q&S, All You, Prevention and Good Housekeeping, work because they give woman readers precisely what they want, minus distracting graphic frippery and a bossy 'tude?