Thursday, 10 May 2007

Out With The Old

I’ve got rid of a couple old friends this week. My subscriptions to Lovefilm and eMusic.
It had got to the stage where I was just opening the Lovefilm stuff and sending straight back. I seem to have exhausted the 'to watch' list and am just going through the motions. I'm currently enjoying watching whole seasons of great american tv shows but Lovefilm seem to struggle to get me what I want when I want it (and in the right order), so alternative sources have been sought.

eMusic was my music download subsription service of choice, but likewise I've been struggling to find forty tracks a month that I want to download. This means I have several albums from artists I have never heard of sitting unheard on my Hoover. Back to the CD racks I think.

I decided this month I was going to read some new magazines to broaden my horizons. Make me more culturally aware. And stylish too.
I already have a subscription to The Word Magazine, so I don’t need to bother with Q or Mojo. I can’t get hold of a copy of the New Yorker, which people on AC’s NKU blog seem to rave about, and I’m not going to subscribe to a magazine I’ve never read. I don’t like the idea of GQ, the title puts me off. So I selected Vanity Fair and Arena...

With The Word Magazine I never sit down and read it cover to cover. I’ll pick it up leaf through it. Stop at something that interests me, read it move on or put it down. I'll then pick it up again later and do the same thing. By the time the new issue arrives the last one is falling to pieces, with little or nothing unread. I decided to adopt this approach with Vanity Fair, so I picked it up (it’s a weighty old beast) and began some serious leafage. By about thirty pages in I had read about John Travolta (being a pilot and trying to sell me a watch) Brad Pitt (trying to sell me a watch) Nicole Kidman (trying to sell me a watch AND some perfume). By the time I had leafed through to the end I had done so without finding anything I wanted to read. I became a little frustrated and decided that I, like Travolta, was a pilot and sent my copy of VF flying across the room.

Arena’s no better. I don't want my studying of movies, music, books and lifestyle encumbered by features on women wearing lingerie. I don’t care about sex-drugs or the entrepreneurs of Bristol or Brighton and I wouldn't be seen dead in their proposed summer clothes.
They also have the same crappy movie star ads. I’m not going to buy anything advertised by Travolta or Pitt (I might consider goods advertised by Ed Norton or John Cusack if any of the 3 or 4 readers of this blog work in Market Research – but you need to bear in mind that I’m never going to buy either of these magazines again).

There's an article on Forest Whitaker I could read, but then the apathy sets in and Arena is airborne...


Five-Centres said...

I understand your frustrations. I too subscribe to the Word, but it's hit and miss, and this month looks like more of a miss to me. From what I've seen of the New Yorker, the cartoons are the best bits. It's a mag for intellectual snobs.
I still subscribe to Mojo, though that's gone off too.
Private Eye I buy but only for the bits that interest me - I couldn't care less about railways or farming. Mens' mags are not for me - I'm no longer 14, and things like GQ and Arena are all fur coat and no knickers.
I'm back with Empire after years away, though it concentrates mainly on blockbuster movies or wanks over Tarantino's latest, so can be a bit of a bore.
My favourite mag is the US Entertainment Weekly, with its swathes of reviews of what's new and its intelligent and fearless take on US pop culture.

Valentine Suicide said...

I used to suscribe to Empire, but have left it alone for a few years. As you say a lot of focus on blockbusters, which have lost their appeal. I'll get the latest and have a new look

Is USEW widely available? That's the trouble with living in the sticks, I have to stock up on my infrequent trips through Euston. I'll look out for it though.

Five-Centres said...

If there's a Borders anywhere near you that's the place to get it. Or if you're passing through Heathrow Airport there always seem to be tons there.

Ishouldbeworking said...

It's tough for chicks, too, you know.

I can't stomach most 'women's' magazines as I couldn't give a shit what Sienna Miller is wearing, and I know everything there is to know about sex already. Everything. The LOT.

I can't read Private Eye any more as all the corruption, egomania and greed reported makes me despondant. I can't be arch and detached about it, it just gets me down. Though I miss the cartoons.

I've just cancelled my subscription to Q after too many endless lists, and a recent 29-page feature on U2 that the world could really have done without.

I have sampled Vanity Fair, usually at airports, and never found enough in it to entertain me as far as cruising altitude. Over-long pieces on wealthy Americans are not my thing. And who is Ariana Huffington-Puffington, anyway?

I am wary of the New Yorker despite never having seen a copy, as I imagine a sort of painful East Coast Ivy League elitism. I have no basis in fact for this view, but I imagine it to be staffed by the sort of Americans who desperately wish they were European, and who pronounce words of French origin with a full French accent, when not in France. Perhaps I should actually buy and read a copy. But it seems to be too hip even for entrepreneurial Brighton; I've never seen it on sale.

I do generally quite enjoy the Word, though. I usually feel I've had my money's worth from it, and generally speaking the standard of journalism is good. Mojo always felt a bit too 'muso' for me. I leafed through a copy of NME a few weeks ago, and could have wept, remembering years past...

I'm still getting good value from Lovefilm, though I was very late in coming to it.

And as for Arena and GQ - well. They're strictly for boys and I've hardly dared peep at them, but I bet I know someone in my street who has a subscription to both. Drives a Saab, that sort of thing.

So I suppose I'll stick with my stack of British Psychological Society periodicals, that or start a fanzine for ageing hipsters...

Ishouldbeworking said...

PS. John Cusack could sell me ANYTHING.

Valentine Suicide said...

I think people who drives Saabs generally read 'Practical Intellectual' magazine and 'Upcoming Supernova Enthusiast'. Chaz is an exception, who like looking at pictures of wooden things.

I'm inclined to agree with both you and FC on New Yoiker, but I'm curious.

You should stick with Lovefilm if you've got plenty in your queue.
I've got such a 'I WANT IT NOW' mentality, I was inevitably disapointed with what arrived, but it was good whilst it lasted.

As for knowing 'The LOT' about sex, could you stick it in a blog entry when you have a mo?
I'd be especially interested in the "How to catch the chicken" chapter.

..and of course I'll subscribe to the isbw Hipster Replacement Fanzine!

Andrew Collins said...

Let's get things straight about the New Yorker. It is fundamentally a weekly Time Out listings guide to what's on and where to eat in Manhattan, which, of course, is useless to me. I don't mind if I never go to New York ever again in my life. However, the quality and breadth of the feature writing is out of this world. You'll find stuff about far flung corners of the world that are written like poetry, you'll read about American politics in a way that contextualises it and sings off the page (not something even the New Statesman does for UK politics - another of my subscriptions), and the arts coverage is so intelligent it may blow your mind if you're used to the Sunday supplements and their soundbites. It's a magazine for the liberal intelligentsia, yes, but it's not snobby and it's not pretentious. It's just packed with content. And their two film critics, Denby and Lane, are among the smartest writing in the language. I was given a subscription for my 40th birthday and I couldn't live without it. For a weekly, however, there is TOO MUCH TO READ, and you'll rarely finish last week's before this week's arrives on the mat.

I too subscribe to The Word, even though I work for it, as I believe small, independent publishing houses should be supported. Also, The Ecologist. I bought this month's Q solely because it had a review of my book in. As a former editor and contributor, the current state of it makes me weep inside. But it's just market forces, not the fault of the editorial team, who are doing their best against stupid commercial odds. I bet some research has dictated that lists sells, so lists it is.

I hate all men's magazine. When I wrote briefly for GQ I was literally too embarrassed to pick it up in Smith's to see if my reviews were in.

Valentine Suicide said...

So there you go, the New Yorker is good. I'm all for really good film critique. Now if I could only find somewhere (outside New York) that sold it.

I also looked for USEW today - not a sniff, at least not in Shropshire.

Gwen said...

Womens magazines are awful. Either its the posh ones where a T Shirt that you "really must have for this season" will set you back a couple of thousand pounds or its ones telling you about "Jordan's/Celebrity BB Contestant's latest diet/pregnancy scare/new look (the list goes on and they are all rubbish). I have yet to find a sensible magazine aimed at women. I only subscribe to a couple of "trade" mags.

Ishouldbeworking said...

VS, chickens are not the brightest creatures, so are really quite easy to 'catch' provided you do a certain amount of preparatory work. For all that they are stupid, they are also quite shallow and have narrow sartorial standards. Were you to slip on a pale grey lounge-suit in a synthetic fabric, with some white loafers ( no socks), you would certainly attract the interest of any passing fowl. Drop in a few lines about your last business trip to Acapulco and the loneliness of the average 5-star hotel room, and..Bingo. Feathers will fly, guaranteed.

And AC has done such a good job of bigging up the 'New Yorker' that I intend to take measures to acquire a copy.

Valentine Suicide said...

a pale grey lounge-suit in a synthetic fabric, with some white loafers eh?

Let the clucking commence...

Clair said...

I am a magazine journalist, and I barely read magazines apart from The Word and weekend newspaper supplements. I used to work on OK!, and was really shocked to see how the standards there have slipped - their coverline this weeks is: KERRY KATONA: WHY I WON'T LET THE SOCIAL TAKE MY KIDS AWAY. Would have looked equally good on Take A Break.

Clair said...

Oh, and for a taster of the kind of things the New Yorker btings, I'd recommend The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell who's one of their writers. A really fantastic book about why certain things take off in popular culture, and some fall like a lead balloon - Gladders is at