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June 21, 2004

Trib's 50 best mags

Dear Michael:

Last week, the Chicago Tribune, my adopted hometown's major daily, published its 50 Best Magazines list, which I think they do every year (but possibly only last year and this year, so far). I think it's a fun survey of the magazines out there and I do enjoy viewing the results of what must have been a deeply psycho-neurotic editorial process to come up with such a list: Doesn't it make us look quirky to have noticed Wooden Boat magazine? We read American Demographics because we're geeky journalists, we can't help ourselves! This one just won a National Magazine award, so that's a safe choice. We're cool because we can admit we read Us Weekly. We like Time better than Newsweek, "Is it better...? Is Coke better than Pepsi?" Well, duuuuh!

Here's the list, cut and pasted because I couldn't figure out how to link to it:

1. Wired. After a wobbly post-boom period, Wired has transformed itself from an insider computer monthly into a slick, smart and playful cultural journal. The reporting is excellent ("The Future of Food," "The New Diamond Age," for instance) and the graphics deliver some of the best short-form journalism in the business. The back-page feature Found" and the upfront section "Start" are consistently strong, and even the "Letters" page crackles with energy. The writing staff is lively yet authoritative, and columnists Lawrence Lessig and Bruce Sterling are smart without being snooty. Even the ads are cool. Finally: We dare you to show us a better magazine Web site (

2. Real Simple. This gem seduces and delivers the goods with teasers such as "A cleaner house in less time: 23 breakthrough tools and tips," "Swimsuits to flatter every figure" and "With a simple box of yellow cake mix, you can make any of these seven sweet desserts." The magazine is a breeze to read, filled with charts, photos, where-to-buy, how-to-order, how-to-make data right there, front and center.

3. The Economist. The no-nonsense font and rigid layout style make it look like a class handout on the first day of an MBA program, but don't be dismayed. This magazine features the most succinct, globe-encompassing wrap-ups of politics and economics on the market. Even often overlooked cultural features such as book reviews glisten with insight.

4. Cook's Illustrated. Our biggest complaint with this always readable mag? That they haven't come out with a gardening version that gives the topic the same thorough, skeptical treatment. We'll say it again: Not taking ads and writing about the actual cooking process so the average home cook can understand gives this magazine an authority that few others in any field enjoy.

5. Esquire. We suspect we're not as good-looking as we think we are. We know we're not clever enough. Esquire is the antidote to our human frailty. Snazzy, gorgeous, well-dressed, smart and that's just the magazine itself. The writing within is consistently great and sometimes beautiful, offering heaping portions of journalism, fiction, essays and helpful advice columns. Even if we doubt we'll ever wrestle with the great trouser-cuffs-and-suspenders debate, we love it that Esquire does.

6. The New Yorker. With Seymour Hersh's series of revelations about the abuses at Abu Ghraib prison, the New Yorker demonstrates yet again how a weekly magazine can still beat the pants off the 24-hour press. And with the presidential election season upon us, look to this book for insight and access into the process and players. Its coverage of pop culture also continues to shine.

7. American Demographics. There are more interesting facts about Americans in one issue of this than in 20 weekly newsmagazines put together. An unparalleled cruncher and analyst of census data, this is the place to learn which ethnic groups buy which products, what counties are the bigger lovers of boats and every detail about how and where we die, among other omnipresent realities.

8. Men's Health. Self-deprecating, funny and jammed with great information. Even those unbearable true-life weight-loss stories are turned into clever contests. Yes, it's full of sex and sultry women with pouty lips, but regular features such as Jimmy the Bartender ("on women, work and other stuff that screws up men's lives") and topical stories make it worthwhile for both sexes.

9. Jane. This fashion and features mag is unapologetically girlie but, surprisingly, is not content-free. For cover stories, celebs such as Kate Winslet and Meg Ryan let down their guard and answer real questions posed by the mag's chatty yet persistent interviewers, and the fashion and beauty advice is actually realistic. Who says a fashion mag has to be glossy, blase and written for stick figures?

10. Consumer Reports. The scolds of the American marketplace, they continue to set themselves apart from an advertising-driven (and, too often, advertising-influenced) media and give the straight dope on everything from dishwashers to insurance. In a world of daily ethical fudging, they're true-blue in giving us cold-blooded assessments of our obsessive consumer culture.

11. Whole Dog Journal. WDJ endorses a distinct, positive and all-natural approach to dog care. There's no advertising, so the monthly doesn't mince words in its product reviews. You can count on no-fluff articles offering relevant tips, and the training and animal behavior pieces are succinct and practical. Passions run high in dogdom; WDJ calmly presents its point of view.

12. Time. Solid, credible reporting, interesting special reports, spot-on political analysis from Joe Klein and generally good writing all around. Is it better than Newsweek? Is Coke better than Pepsi?

13. Reason. In an era of smash-mouth, left vs. right political discourse, the libertarian Reason is a fresh and nuanced antidote, with a frequent a-plague-on-both-their-houses approach. And it kicked butt with a head-turning cover story, meant to underscore the power of database marketing, in which the cover was personalized for each of the 40,000 subscribers with an aerial photograph of the mailing address.

14. People. One of the most influential mags ever, it is America's guilty pleasure. Only the true snoot will deny the allure, especially stuck waiting for a hairdresser, of learning who's sleeping with whom, who's splitsville and who's due when. Yes, there are serious topics, but these folks tapped into our obsession with celebrity and continue to beat the competition to the punch. So who is dating Ben Affleck these days?

15. Business Week. Consistently the best business magazine, more timely than the biweeklies Forbes and Fortune. One strength is international reporting, as in the cover story on India and outsourcing.

16. Fine Homebuilding. If the inside of your head is lined with ceramic tile, then this publication is for you. Amateurs and professionals alike will squint appreciatively at the lavishly detailed photos of distinctive homes. The how-to pieces and the buyers guides to tools and products are written with clarity and thoroughness.

17. The Atlantic Monthly. With a knack for coming up with cover stories that always seem a step ahead of the Next Big Thing in news, this magazine continues at the top of its game. Even the stories that don't make the coveted cover would, in any other magazine, be the spotlight feature.

18. National Review. This right-wing glossy offers smart, certain ideology for these uncertain times. More serious than Bill O'Reilly or Rush Limbaugh and less Air Force One-obsessed than the Weekly Standard, the middlebrow NR even manages to squeeze the pretentious arts through its conservative wringer.

19. Conde Nast Traveler. Relentlessly up-scale, yet balanced with fascinating and practical consumer information, this is the magazine for the well-heeled traveler who's not above wearing sensible shoes. Its annual Readers' Choice ranks the best-of-everything in the world of travel -- as long as money isn't an object. But, then, what's a travel magazine for if not to dream?

20. No Depression. For those who crave that tasty trail mix of traditional country, punk, folk and rock that goes under the moniker alt country or Americana, there is no finer or more thorough source for news, reviews and profiles. We adore the long chewy portraits of the genre's big names, and the dispatches from concertland.

21. Cooking Light. Pleasantly attitude-free and rich with all aspects of a healthy lifestyle, including nutrition and fitness. Not only are the recipes simple, tasty and healthy, but each month offers ideas for the "Inspired Vegetarian." Another handy section called "Superfast" provides ideas for meals that can be ready in about 20 minutes.

22. Aperture. Each issue of this recently redesigned photography quarterly is a treasure. The printing quality and paper stock are better than in most photography books. Founded by Ansel Adams, Dorothea Lange and others more than 50 years ago, Aperture thrives as a venue for today's most captivating and diverse fine art photography.

23. Us Weekly. No one does photo captions better. Us hooks us with its amazing image-storytelling, like the narrative arc of a Britney spread in which she looks skinny one day and pudgy the next, coupled with a "story" about her fast-food eating diet. We also continue to love the "Stars: They're Just Like Us" feature, in which we gawk in amazement as Jennifer Aniston ties her own shoe and Ben Affleck drops off laundry. Maybe they really are just like us!

24. Car and Driver. Other car magazines make some attempt to appear grown-up, but not C&D. From the legendary "Dodge Intrepid vs. U.S.S. Intrepid" comparison to thorough, definitive road tests, C&D sets the standard. When it arrives in the mailbox, full of readable prose ranging from cranky to hilarious, you see why C&D rules.

25. Essence. Indispensable to its loyal readership with lively and timely reports on issues that matter to women of color. Whether the topic is obstacles to career advancement, obtaining financial security or fighting for better health in the black community, Essence is on the cutting edge.

26. Science News. You don't need a PhD in science to understand this weekly, and it's far more concise than, say, Science or Nature. Those two may fight for first dibs on the newest research, but SN will report later so a layperson can understand it.

27. Budget Living. Here's a magazine that aims at those of us in slightly lower tax and stock sophistication brackets than, say, Martha Stewart Living, where we are not afraid to ask questions such as: Where can I buy a spring coat for less than $40? What is really the cheapest cell phone plan? And how do I garden if I am still a renter?

28. Sports Illustrated. Cliches are the athlete's foot of sports writing, the scummy, unavoidable residue of the genre. This veteran magazine, however, still manages to come up with surprising, inventive prose about the week's big events in the sporting world. The longer features always sparkle. The photos are often instant classics.

29. Vogue. In a landscape of lookalike, sound-alike women's magazines, Vogue maintains its position above the masses with singular old-fashioned sophistication and a healthy sense of humor. It's first and foremost about fashion, which it covers beautifully (those Irving Penn photos!), so we can forgive the long, personal essays about breast-reduction surgery.

30. Entertainment Weekly. If magazines were candy stores, EW would be a wall of delectable penny candy. With bite-size features, irreverent Q&As and exclusive photos, EW generates buzz like few magazines can. While their movie preview issues are more fun than an afternoon of watching summer trailers, EW's movie criticism remains as snarky as it is unpredictable.

31. Parenting. These guys know what parents of young kids need and that's commiseration and advice on uncivilized children, endless colds, work-family guilt, sleep deprivation and keeping up with the Joneses. And that's in just one issue. We really like the "All Yours" section where moms can get tips on what to do during their nanosecond of weekly personal time.

32. Gourmet. Ruth Reichl has pulled this periodical from its stodgy rut into a lively but substantial read. As always, the stunning photography offers nourishment enough, but the magazine is also jammed with fabulous travel pieces, stylishly written guides to upscale and down-home entertaining and the terrific back section.

33. Martha Stewart Weddings. Every bride-to-be knows that a wedding magazine's primary function is to be a carrier for ads. Ads for wedding gowns primarily. Ads for beautiful, unattainable, perfectly snug or flowing or draping or plunging wedding gowns. And on this count, Martha's quarterly beats the competition.

34. Dwell. For modernists who worship at the temple of design rather than decor with an emphasis on graceful re-use. It can be a bit grad-schoolish at times ("How an Idea Becomes a Chair"), but that's part of its serious charm. Otherwise, it's supercool, environmentally aware, and never ever mentions chintz. What else do you need to know?

35. The American Scholar. Despite the intimidating moniker and fancy pedigree, this lean publication includes some of the sharpest, most down-to-earth writing around. Incisive articles about current events, such as bioterrorism, rub shoulders with profound personal essays by the likes of Thomas Mallon and Annie Dillard.

36. The New York Review of Books. In an era in which brevity is deemed beautiful, this remains a home for engaging and longer-form literary and political essays by an A-list of the smartest folks around. For sure, lengthy dissections of the oeuvre of German critic Walter Benjamin by South African Nobelist J.M. Coetzee can be a challenge. But you'll find critical dissections that provide their own intellectual oasis amid the jargon-filled clutter about us.

37. Wooden Boat. Don't own a boat? Doesn't matter. This boldly illustrated magazine brings out the hidden mariner in even the most stubborn landlubber. Yes, those who occasionally do get out on the water might be most intrigued, but the adventure stories and recollections of special journeys are captivating.

38. New York. With a recent boost from new ownership and a prestigious editor in chief, this venerable city magazine is reinventing itself yet again. Whether it's improving upon an existing feature (gossip pages shun celebs for media moguls), bringing back respected contributors (Kurt Andersen, Maer Roshan) or getting away from the fluffy style of its past few years, New York seems to be edging toward a neo-golden age.

39. National Journal. Frothy liberal mags obsess over New Economy titans. But when the wonkish National Journal picks a Power 100, it offers profiles of the men and women of . . . the Department of Homeland Security. No nudity, but phone numbers attached. Insights from the only magazine that treats federal bureaucrats like the megawatt stars they are in their own minds can be more useful than you'd expect.

40. Donna Hay Magazine. This lush Aussie glossy about food comes with a bit of a built-in language problem (We still haven't quite figured out what a "bug" as in "grilled bug tails with kaffir lime leaf and basil" is. A small lobster? A big shrimp? An actual insect?). But the art direction and photography are so gorgeous and satisfying you could skip a meal after reading it. It's also loaded with scores of uncomplicated recipes, kitchen tips and party ideas.

41. Texas Monthly. Now, more than ever. After years of mostly supportive pieces on "W," a 6,000-word article in the February issue by writer Paul Burka titled "The Man Who Isn't There" seems to have signaled the end of the honeymoon. But there's much more than politics in this state, as any Texan will tell you, and it is presented in all its glory here.

42. Vanity Fair. VF really knows what it's doing, and we like that. We'll forgive the magazine for its obsession with the very rich and the very famous. We can read about regular people any old time now, on to Cameron Diaz! We especially appreciate the beautiful photographs of beautiful people and the provocative writing of Christopher Hitchens and James Wolcott.

43. Chicago. It is impossible for a Chicagoan to read an issue and not come away with useful information. This is its first appearance on the Tempo list since The Tribune Company bought this monthly, but you don't have to take our word it belongs here. It just won a National Magazine Award for general excellence for its mix of probing journalism, clever service stories and darn good restaurant coverage.

44. In Touch. For those who consider People too intellectually cumbersome, In Touch is the ideal way to find out what those crazy celebrities are up to (Keanu Reeves Buys His Sis a House! Britney's Sexy Beach Date). In Touch has lots of pictures, just enough text to qualify as a magazine, and an obvious respect for bringing the truth to light (for instance, Nicole Kidman "is aghast over reports that she almost gagged to death on piece of tempura" at a trendy NYC eatery).

45. Heeb. This smart-alecky upstart calls itself "the New Jew Review." The slick, sometimes sick and often funny quarterly is intelligent, provocative and oh-so Jewish. Heeb especially appeals to readers who have celebrated their bat or bar mitzvah after 1990 and those who wish they had. The magazine's young and hip point of view, its embrace of its audience's inner-dweeb make it an interesting and unexpectedly fun read.

46. Legal Affairs. Law is no longer a remote, esoteric academic topic and we don't just mean the Kobe Bryant trial. We mean the way legal matters seep into everyday life, influencing and being influenced by the culture at large. For lengthy, extraordinarily topical articles about the law's long reach into our living rooms and psyches, this magazine has become a must.

47. ToyFare. Three words: "Twisted ToyFare Theater." Collectible figures do and say things obviously not condoned by their corporate owners in a feature so popular, it's anthologized outside the magazine. Example: Comic book villains play the board game Risk and recount naughty anecdotes of world domination while harassing the pizza boy. Oh, it's also a price guide and irreverent toy industry magazine.

48. Rolling Stone. Sure, it occasionally reads like your dad trying to be cool. But RS can still blindside with probing, offbeat features (example: Neil Strauss holes himself up in a hotel room with a swirling-the-drain Courtney Love) and a solid national affairs section. The record reviews can be predictable, but the front-of-book "Rock & Roll" short takes remain addictive.

49. Seahorse. The official magazine of the UK's Royal Ocean Racing Club has built itself into the definitive source for grand prix sailing. Stories range from giant multihulls conquering round-the-world records to America's Cup happenings to who's building the next megayacht.

50. Chicago Wilderness. OK, the tone is a bit boosterish, but what other journal concerns itself with the migrations of the painted lady butterfly or the symphony of flowers busting through our beleaguered prairies? Celebrating the region's natural heritage, this lavishly illustrated quarterly focuses on the inspiring people who protect and heal the local landscape.

Of the magazines I subscribe to, I find that I only really read (i.e. have time to read) The New Yorker and the NY Times magazine. I recently tried reading a few of the "stories" in the new issue of Martha Stewart Living and was amused to see that I had the right instinct in ignoring them for all these years: there's no content there, just deep captioning for the luscious photo spreads. But, they do a great job of making me feel like I somehow participated in making that decoupage lampshade without lifting a finger. I heart Martha. I hope her jail time doesn't cause her empire to crumble.


posted by Vanessa at June 21, 2004


Magazine-head! I used to love magazines, but the Web has broken me of the addiction -- now I'm addicted to the Web instead.

My scorecard:
* Magazines on this list I'd never heard of: 8.
* Magazines I read regularly: er, 3.
* Magazines I flip thru from time to time: 10.
* Wrongest mistake on their list: Wired at #1. Wired, IMHO, is eliminated unto eternity from all possible best-of lists thanks to its malign influence on layout and design.

Hmm, what else. I think Reason has gone to hell in the last few years. The Economist annoys as much as it informs, but I read it anyway. Vanity Fair ought to be ashamed of itself. Is there anyone who really loves Wintou's Vogue? (I find it shrill, and about as sexy as a pile of gravel.) Aperture is still being published? I had no idea. Fine Homebuilding is first-rate. American Demographics is fun, though I only look at it once a year. Is Jane everyone's guiltiest pleasure? I haven't looked at the NYRB in a couple of years and I can't say my life seems any the poorer.

Martha Stewart's magic eludes me a bit. Do you love that she's such a diva? That she's master (or seem to be) of everything that needs doing around a house? So, her mag is the ultimate way for a tired grown-up to play house?

Posted by: Michael Blowhard on June 21, 2004 11:47 PM

I used to love magazines, but the Web has broken me of the addiction -- now I'm addicted to the Web instead.

Tell me about it! My first reaction was "Maga-whats?"

The only magazine I ever really used to read read was GQ - because I'm so darned stylish - and I see it didn't even rank.

Posted by: Brian on June 22, 2004 1:59 AM

What does it say about me that when I hear mention of a magazine referred to as Jane's that I think Jane's Defence Weekly? And I've never even been in the military!

Wired's negative influence on design cannot be overstated, but editorially they've gotten better under the latest editor, who's finally hitting their stride. My subscription lapsed years ago, but my wife subscribes now, as I would never let her cut pictures out of it for artistic purposes. Not an issue when they're hers! It's bathroom reading material around here.

Reason and the Economist are about the only things on the list that I'd like a sub to.

Posted by: David Mercer on June 22, 2004 3:51 AM

And that's only the American side of the pond. What about UK magazines like The Spectator and The Oldie?

Thanks for posting this annotated list, Vanessa -- something we can all print out and take to the newsstand with us.

Posted by: George Hunka on June 22, 2004 7:50 AM

People Magazine? I know it says only the most snooty among us would object. Gosh, more feedback for me! I think it's the biggest ripoff on the newstand---I haven't spent my own money on one in years!

I stopped being as interested in Vanity Fair (I have stacks of old ones from the eighties and early nineties) when I stopped having even heard of the person they put on the cover.

Posted by: annette on June 22, 2004 8:31 AM

Esquire - Wow, it still exists?

The New Yorker - Once the perfect reflection of the tastes and world view of the affluent, proud, confident, WASP establishment; now the oh-so politically correct, oh-so anxiously hip barometer of The New Class, the Bo(urgeoise)Bo(hemian)s.
And the cartoons are pale reflections of what they were in the glory years.

National Review - All those who equate conservatism with uptightness oughta give this mag a try. Some of the sharpest, wittiest, most humorfilled, delightful writing around. Two of my particular favorites: John Derbyshire and Jay Nordlinger.
Give it a try:

Posted by: ricpic on June 22, 2004 8:33 AM

Dwell: ocasional refreshingly original (usually small and/or residential) job described; I found myself reading their "international news mix" summary pages more than big articles, as pointers for further investigation. Wonderful footbridge to Royal Opera House in London I first encountered thru Dwell - and in 6 months lapse read detailed article with zoomed-in photos in "Lighting design" about it.

New Yorker: was quite fond of it the year before 9/11; my interest started to fade after appearance in that famous "black" issue of the Susan Sontag rant that started whole "what-did-we-do-to-deserve-it" madness. All sections, apart from occasional non-political investigation (like that excellent article about ballet shoes industry) became visibly pinkish-colored, of the worst kind - pretending to be in objective center. In other words - dead fish for me.

Posted by: Tatyana on June 22, 2004 9:07 AM

I love that "Heeb" made the list. I began reading it because my gym subscribed, but now even this shiksa has her very own subscription. It's a wonderful read. I shared it with some Orthodox friends and they gave it the seal of approval, too.

Posted by: Maureen on June 22, 2004 11:45 AM

Jane? Obviously, this is list created by people who don't actually read magazines so much as the listen to gossip from their industry friends, former colleagues, and secret foes.

I have seen 10-year old pictures in US Weekly. The cheap rag seems to be published as part of some weird scam. Gotta give them credit for being a slick(ish) rag that does not worry about print quality. They're right up there at the checkout, magenta a good 1/16 inch off plumb.

Whole Dog Journal is right up there with Jane when it comes to delivering false information to people who don't have a clue but assume they are far too wise to fall for the conventional wisdom.

Reading the list somehow makes me feel dirty - something I considered an innocent and worthwhile pleasure has been proven deeply perverted. "Long chewy portraits" my left ear.

If my lunch date begs off, I'm calling the Chicago Tribune and demanding staffers to tell me their top 3 favorite articles from any 2 magazines on the list. (Email, obviously, would give them time to do research.)

Posted by: j.c. on June 22, 2004 11:46 AM

Love your scorecard, Michael. On the Web vs. Magazines, I guess I like magazines because I just don't enjoy reading at a desk. I still prefer turning pages to clicking. I also like the higher resolution of paper, the non-glare of the medium, and the precision of magazine layout. I also like getting something in my mailbox once a month.

Posted by: Vanessa on June 22, 2004 1:19 PM

Rolling Stone has been tired for years. Very few records are reviewed each issue and as the Trib said, they're very predictable. Their national reporting is outdone by many, many other magazines.

By far the best music magazine is the UK's Mojo. Since it's an import it's a bit pricy at $8.75 an issue, but well worth it.

Posted by: Bryan on June 22, 2004 4:18 PM

I would have thrown the newspaper in the trash in disgust at the first choice. Wired was once the greatest magazine in the world, the perfect - no, the *essential* companion and guide to (and voice for) the thilling early days of the public internet when revolution was in the air. For the past four or five years it's been about as revolutionary, interesting, and useful as a bowl of Cocoa Puffs.
Also, is a fine news website, but the Tribune is mistaken in claiming it is the website of Wired magazine. The website was bought by Lycos at least eight years ago.

Posted by: Ethan on June 22, 2004 5:54 PM

I guess they had to spread the choices over all the key demographics which would explain why some of my favorites are left out. I assume they think the National Review represents the Conservative spot, giving them cover to leave out Commentary and the City Journal while including People (my God) as one of the fifty best.

Posted by: Manlin on June 22, 2004 8:25 PM

I agree with you completely about The New Yorker. I was a subscriber for years before their woefully inadequate 9/11 issue caused me to cancel my subscription.

Does anyone else think that the Atlantic Monthly is coasting on the reputation that was really earned by the late Michael Kelly?

Posted by: Grandcosmo on June 22, 2004 10:48 PM

I really didn't expect it but I'm still disappointed that none of my favorites are on the list.

Posted by: Lynn S on June 22, 2004 11:05 PM

I love the New Yorker, buyt pick Seymour "Wrong Way" Hersh as the reason to read it?! Does no one remember his "Afganistan is becomeing an unwinnable quagmire" story (published a week before the fall of the Taliban) or his "Iraq invasion bogged down" story (pubilshed the week before the fall of Baghdad)? The man seems to talk to every malcontent with an ax to grind in the Pentagon, and then piece together the worst possible interpretation from their stories. And since its the media business (which means never having to say you're sorry), no matter how wrong his stories are, the memory fades off into the ether and people get just as excited over his next "revelation"...

Posted by: jimbo on June 23, 2004 9:48 AM

Interesting list, but I'd remove one: Cooking Light. Several years ago my wife and I discovered that magazine, and promptly began a subscription. The recipes were very interesting and tasty, the articles good, the layout clear.
Fairly shortly things began to go wrong. Not 4 months into our year-long subscription the parent company began calling us to renew. I understand the zeal to serve one's customers, but that level of aggression is more than a little off-putting. We asked that they not call, to no good end. Figuring that it simply wasn't worth it to let them know anything about us, we moved and dropped the sub. at the same time.

After than, it began to seem like advertising had taken over. The table of contents was something like 12 pages in, and actually finding (and then reading across multiple pages) the content was a challenge that grew progressively greater each month. The last one I picked up was last year, where the cover story was on the next-to-last page, nearly buried by ads.

Sad when a company loses sight of what they're actually selling. People aren't buying a magazine, or newspaper, or cable television, to be advertised *at* - people want something interesting to read, or watch, with ads that fit their needs as an acceptable side note. Anything else betrays the conversation that has been initiated by the cover.

Posted by: Danny on June 23, 2004 10:21 AM

I'm led to understand by a friend who is prone to overstatements that if you don't subscribe to Wire, you don't take music seriously.

Posted by: Franklin on June 23, 2004 11:09 AM

City Journal definitely belongs on the list, and so does The New Criterion--the latter at number one, IMO. I don't think I'm renewing my Atlantic subscription. Maybe it's a coincidence, but it seems that since the death of Mike Kelly the Atlantic has headed steadily downhill. Their devoting space to that idiotic piece by Howell Raines was the last straw for me.

As a household tips junkie, I totally agree with the inclusion of Real Simple, which is as good as a magazine of its kind can be--indeed, which should win every graphic design award out there for its pulling off the rare feat of mixing high-intensity visual jumble with a remarkable degree of clarity and readability.

Posted by: Francis Morrone on June 23, 2004 11:47 AM

They include People, US Weekly, Jane and Time (which is increasingly lefty) and leave out Commentary, Policy Review, The New Criterion and The City Journal. Why I bother to read any of these lists I don't know. Now some Tasteless Wonders have a list of the 100 greatest songs in American movie history. GRRR. I should have ignored it but I think a brisk walk will calm me down.

Posted by: Barry on June 23, 2004 12:48 PM

Joe Klein - "spot-on political reporting"?!
Include Time, of course, but Joe Klein? His increasingly wrong predictions and summaries of over the last 6 years on just about everything he writes (I began keeping a list for fun in 2000 - it's already over 6 DOZEN wrong predictions long) would cause most writers to hang their heads in shame . . . and that doesn't have anything to do with the old "Primary Colors". Talented, yes, but relevant . . . not to anyone that wants a true sizing up of the political scene today.

Posted by: Brent on June 24, 2004 12:43 AM

Brent - any chance you have this list on your own blog? It sounds fun.

Posted by: j.c. on June 24, 2004 1:27 PM

"40. Donna Hay Magazine. This lush Aussie glossy about food comes with a bit of a built-in language problem (We still haven't quite figured out what a "bug" as in "grilled bug tails with kaffir lime leaf and basil" is. A small lobster? A big shrimp? An actual insect?)."

"A 'bug' is probably a Balmain bug."

This answer is found on this page:

And Julian, the poster, includes a link to this page:

on which is found this:

"The Balmain Bug is a type of slipper lobster and is closely related to the rock lobsters. It has no pincers and uses its short, wide antennae to dig into sand and mud on the ocean floor in search of food.

"The Balmain Bug is a popular, edible crustacean common throughout Sydney fish markets and local fish shops."


Dave Lull

Posted by: Dave Lull on July 4, 2004 7:59 PM

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