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The Periodical Table

A review of the magazines laying around Beachwood HQ.

Slump City
The recent disappointing run of The New Yorker continues with a May 14 issue with little to recommend. Elizabeth Kolbert's story about the new supercollider under construction outside Geneva reads with an awful familiarity. I wasn't moved to read about Richard Branson's biofuels kick. I started the piece about a renowned maker of guitars as well as the one about an archeological find of possibly the world's first "computer"; didn't finish either. A Ken Auletta piece about Wall Street Journal consumer technology reporter Walt Mossberg was interesting. The cultural criticism was dull. What's going on, New Yorker? Worst run in memory.

Portfolio Prognosis
I received a free copy of the premier issue of Portfolio, the new Conde Nast business magazine edited by former Journal editor Joanne Lipman. The verdict: It sucks.

Lipman's Editor's Letter (why do magazines waste a whole page with this nonsense?) was like the magazine itself: overheated hype. "Business is about power," Lipman writes. "And guts. And passion."

Yes, unlike just about every other part of life. Please.

"Business coverage should be too."

See, Portfolio is trying to corner the passionate, gutsy business journalism market niche. Would that it were so, and we had a major business magazine really taking it to the corporate sector. Alas, that's not what Lipman means.

I can at least recommend, if you have room in your head for another Plamegate story, Matthew Cooper's firsthand report of his involvement in the Valerie Plame affair, which explored the legal positions of Time Inc. and others in determining whether Cooper and his colleagues should go to jail to protect their sources.

Who's That Girl?
On the cover of the new No Depression?

It's Miranda Lambert, and from the looks of it, "country's new alternative" rocks.

Speaking of editor's letters, even in No Depression, one of my favorite mags, they're getting a bit tired; in ND, they tend to be meditations on what alt-country is, what the magazine is, which bands they should and shouldn't cover, defenses of cover choices . . . enough already! We've been discussing this for years. Save it for your staff meetings!

Nonetheless, ND doesn't disappoint.

Kurt Reighley turns in an interesting piece on Libertyville's very own Tom Morello - quite a feat considering the recent spate of publicity about Morello's new incarnation as The Nightwatchman. Reighley's piece nonetheless manages to be fresh.

Likewise, Jesse Fox Mayshark contributes a worth piece on Conor Oberst, and I'd be remiss if I didn't mention the visual and editorial presence of bandmate Nate Wolcott, who used to work the door at the Beachwood Inn right here in lil' ol' Wicker Park.

Reviews include Wilco's Sky Blue Sky, and releases by The Detroit Cobras, Golden Smog, Los Straitjackets, and Koko Taylor.

And as always, even the ads are visually appealing and editorially informative, much like in Punk Planet. If you read one magazine this week, this is the one.

Arouse Your Man
The new Cosmopolitan was within reach on a recent morning at the Flying Saucer restaurant in Humboldt Park, promising a bunch of new ways to satisfy your man sexually. To steal a line from Beachwood contributor Rick Kaempfer . . . it really doesn't take nearly as much effort as Cosmo makes out to attract, arouse, and satisfy a man. I'm not one for gender stereotyping, but I think I'm on safe ground saying that just standing there pretty much works.

Blog and Roll
Things have been kind of slow over at The New York Times Magazine lately too (is all of New York publishing suffering from ennui these days?), but I can at least recommend one fascinating piece about a topic that may seem tired but the Times presents from the ground-level. "Sex, Drugs and Updating Your Blog" explores how bands are making it on their own without record labels by selling their work online, which again might sound old to you, but the way they are using blogs to communicate with fans is turning the whole enterprise on its head. The artist at the center of the story now spends most of his day blogging with fans. Definitely worth a read.



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Posted on May 16, 2007


MUSIC - Virtual Wacos.
TV - Glenn Beck's Turn In The Volcano.
POLITICS - Paying The Price Of Science Denialism (Again).
SPORTS - The Opening Day That Wasn't.

BOOKS - Poles In Illinois.

PEOPLE PLACES & THINGS - El Greco: Defiance & Ambition.


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