we will put a popular band on the cover theory
Against Rolling Stone and Other True Stories
by Alex Carnevale
Of all the terrible newsstand magazines (and there are so very many) sometimes you get an issue in the mail that just boggles the mind. Rolling Stone of this coming month is one such example. There is a three page piece on Sidney Lumet in it, for some reason. I have never felt so used in my life. The political pieces are so bad they are almost impossible to read. Jack Johnson? Lenny Kravitz? Radiohead and Thomas Pynchon? No thank you.
The thing with Rolling Stone is that since I started reading it in the early 90s, it never really was very good. Of course back in the day it was amazing.
I have a similar issue with Vanity Fair, one of the most consistently good magazines of all time. In some ways, Vanity Fair has changed, but it’s better than most everything out there and this slimmer iteration is certainly an improvement on the 900 page manifestos they were printing out a few years ago. James Wolcott on Bush books was great, too.
Other magazines have suffered either a strong decline in quality or, in rare cases, a sharp increase. Entertainment Weekly has made me want to cry for some time, here are some less obvious candidates.
Most days I use The Nation as toilet paper, but a few recent issues had me singing a different tune. This James Longenbach piece on George Oppen for example, is evidence the book section is having some fun these days. It should be – there are plenty of entertaining critics out there. They’ve also been very anti-Clinton so far, which is a wise move since I strongly feel Obama will win the nomination, but the Clintons can still win, and there’s no going back for them now.
While the latest vanden Heuvel editorial deserves to be her last, I guess she cuts a good figure on the masthead, I dunno. Overall they could still benefit from a sense of humor (Dave Chappelle column anyone?!?!), but quite a few magazines have revitalized themselves through cultural coverage. Their stuff on Obama is going to be telling – can they get close enough to him to satisfy the Obamastalker in all of us? Stay tuned.
There were definitely some classic issues of Spin. Their Jane’s Addiction oral history had me spellbound, and the writing for the best 100 albums of all time was tremendous. I’m tempted to say they have bowed to newsstand sales, but since they put Pete Doherty of all fucking people on the cover it’s hard to argue that. That guy does not move sales.
To show where we are now with Spin, check out the lead stories from this issue of the magazine.
The Hot Chip is the only thing I would even bother reading, and once you do read it, it’s not a bad piece, but come on. Also, a John C. Reilly interview? What is this, October 2007?
Their website collectively contains all the information of one Stereogum e-mail. Congrats on that. I suppose it’s not unusual for music blogs to blow music magazines out of the water because music magazines suck so much, but I’m surprised when it is this blatant. Shit, I’d rather read the guy on Fluxblog call one more track ‘dreamy’ and ‘evocative’ than read this magazine.
The New York Review of Books
Meanwhile The New York Review of Books, perhaps not content to remain the only place you can find a 2,000 word article on Bruegel in a 2008 issue, has both suffered when they attempt to be “current” and stayed typically strong when they try to present good writing, as with Derek Walcott’s tribute to Elizabeth Hardwick. Then again, I hate Tony Judt.
Hilarious pic from NYRB:
Speaking of NYRB, this article about blogs makes me want to die. Was it written in 1999? There is the tendency of morons to channel everything about internet culture into the word blog. The only blogs we remember are the good ones, everything else kinda fades away. That is what is so great about the interwebs.
Also, does the NYRB have to publish Frank Rich? I think he’s got quite the platform already. This stuff just makes me mad.
“We Are Nowhere And It’s Now” – Bright Eyes (mp3)
OK, I feel better. That reassuring face always puts a smile on mine. I love the headline of this press release. From the body:
Think about the legacy we’ll leave behind when we support Hillary Clinton for President of the United States. Let’s put a stop to the psychological “gang banging” of women and girls. Let’s stand up and be counted by way of the hard-won votes we can now cast!
Robert Hass on Israel literature. My five favorite Israel/Palestine books:
rutu modan wiki
my homeboy benny morris’ wiki
david grossman wiki
the great emile habibi‘s wiki
“Everyone Chooses Sides” – The Wrens (mp3)
Everything Jennifer Love Hewitt knows about women.
Percentage of high school graduates in the army at record low.
Dave fielding some tough questions about the Seattle Mariners. I fail to see how adding Erik Bedard hurts them, to be honest. The Devil Rays only got Matt Garza for their young outfielder–I know we’re talking years of control there, but Bedard > Garza by a lot. We’ll see if the deal gets done. </baseball talk>
Chris Nolan on Ledger.
Bill Watterson’s earliest drawings. The days apparently were not just packed.
Ben Kunkel the new conservative icon.
Harris Feinsod is working for this radio show, it is well worth checking out.
I don’t even think Douglas Coupland reads his old books.
The devourer of worlds is on his way.
In conversation with August Wilson.
Ben on Vampire Weekend.
Justin Taylor on the codex seraphinianus.
Hitchens haaaates the Clintons.
Archivist eBays stuff to pay off daughter’s credit card debt.
Bush talking to Obama makes me laugh really hard:
After his speech, Bush sought out Kennedy, his former partner in education reform, to exchange greetings. He also shook Obama’s hand and said hello in typical Bush fashion: “Hey buddy, how’s it going,” he said, according to Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.), who also sat next to Obama for the speech.
Dan Liebert’s pet peeves:
Barbecue restaurants with happy pigs on the sign.
Those foreign guys on the subway who pretend to read newspapers written in gibberish.
People on fire—they’re always asking for favors, even if they hardly know you.
The way road signs talk to you in that stern, fatherly voice.
I never seem to meet those cheerful, uncomplicated women you see on tractor-trailer mud flaps.
This picture of Becca (right) is classic:
That expression of total joy makes me laugh so hard. Way to go Wiener.
Most popular secret societies.
The MTA disgusts us once again.
James Schamus on the race card.
The 50th issue of The Believer is half-price for the next 24 hours.
Alex Carnevale is the editor of This Recording.
“All the Girls Around the World (Klever So So Death remix)” – Blaqstarr (mp3)
PREVIOUSLY ON THIS RECORDING
Danish and I had a conversation I’ll never forget.
Molly talked comic strips.
A painter was basically us if you thought about it long enough.
more brit here