The Throne Room.
My family isn’t alone in dubbing the porcelain panic palace as the Throne Room. As one of the few places in anyone’s house that offers a modicum of escape from the kids, the noise, the intrusions, the toilet really can be a sacred space.
It’s also where, in many cases (not all, but a lot) there’s a good chance I can learn an awful lot about you based on your reading preferences.
While some of us traipse off to the toilet at 6 am armed with the New York Times Sunday Edition (I’ll see you around noon, says they), others offer a selection of periodicals, usually handy either to the throne or the bathtub, depending on the nature of your business, as it were.
Back in July, I accompanied a good friend to his brother’s barbeque. As is my habit, being afflicted with TBS (Tiny Bladder Syndrome, women over sixty can relate) I had to head upstairs.
There on his sink counter were multiple issues of Soldier of Fortune, Ballistic Magazine, SWAT, Tactical Life Gun. A veritable feast for the fearful.
This stuff is survivalist porn. My friend’s brother has a cache of weapons in his house — along with tens of thousands of rounds of ammo in the basement- which could kill off my entire Lakewood neighborhood should his dryer catch on fire.
An otherwise very bright man, he believed sincerely that the President himself at the time, Barack Obama, was going to walk up his driveway any second and demand his gun cache.
That of course didn’t happen. (The brother is still deeply disappointed). What did happen is that I won’t go over there for barbeque any more, fearing for my life (for damned good reason) no matter how much I love his dogs.
My bathroom basket offers Outside Magazine, Explore (the Canadian version of the same thing), National Geographic, Bicycling, Horse and others that speak to an adventure, animal and outdoors mindset. I used to subscribe to writing mags. Eventually I got weary of having most of the pages jammed full of ads to get my Masters of Fine Arts, which I HAD TO HAVE if I were going to be a “serious writer.” My two multiple prize winning books notwithstanding.
Um, written without said MFA.
Our magazines speak eloquently to our mindsets.
While magazine subscriptions and eyeballs on some categories have dropped significantly over the last five years (https://www.printweek.com/print-week/news/1163651/print-continues-decline-in-latest-magazine-abcs) many of us still like our mags. The easy-to-hold, easy-to-read format — most certainly for a certain percentage of us — make for fun reading. I don’t care to read magazines on digital devices but that is indicative of my generation, not that one is better than the other.
No matter how you consume your popular print, it still speaks to who you are.
Over the years, my compulsive interest in fashion and beauty led me to subscribe to Seventeen, then Glamour. I evolved, inevitably, to Harper’s Bazaar, Vogue, and some international versions of the same. Reading them inspired me to spend untold thousands of clothing that crammed my closets but that I never wore. They wove a fantasy around what my life would be if I bought X. Of course that never happened. That didn’t stop me from annually stocking my bathroom basket with thick issues of the September fashion fest, and feasting my eyes on fabulous pieces I could never afford. Nor did I have anywhere to wear those extravagant items.
About ten years ago, like many of us who mature in different directions, I dumped my fashion mags for what mattered far more to me: a life of exercise, adventure travel, and my writing career. I pick up NatGeo special editions to provide inspiration. Read excellent writing.
As this graph shows, our collective interest in sports still dominates, with ESPN Magazine topping the charts for 2018 along with People.https://www.statista.com/statistics/208807/estimated-print-audience-of-popular-magazines/
I loved Sports Illustrated, and for a good long time was a subscriber. The problem is price. At nearly eighty bucks a year I couldn’t justify it, given then I am not wont to settle in for half a day on Sunday morning to read it. First, that’s horrifically bad for the body. Second, the way I eat and exercise means that I am lucky to cop a paragraph before I light out for another set of adventures. Most of my mags go largely unread, but for a few tidbits of high interest.
I miss SI. Boy, do I. The terrific, talented writing, the quality coverage, the in-depth stories. I didn’t like all of it (after all lacrosse isn’t exactly a passion of mine) but the commentary and editorials were informative and superbly crafted. Collectively they taught me to be a better writer.
However like so many I only have so much time. The only time I really get a chance to read magazines are two scenarios: standing in line at the speedy checkout lane (THE EXPRESS LANE, where you can pore over at least four magazines in their entirely while waiting to buy one banana).
There, and my neighborhood nail shop.
Rose, the charming Vietnamese woman who runs this shop and who has been my nail person for more than twelve years, keeps it stocked with trash weeklies. This apparently is what her clients desire most. Unless I remember to BYO I am stuck with Cosmopolitan (#9 on the readership list) or any of the celebrity-stalking weekly mags which love to titillate the mindless with stories about STARS! THEY’RE JUST LIKE US! THEY PUT QUARTERS INTO PARKING METERS. THEY DRINK SHITTY SODAS. THEY WIPE THEIR ASSES WITH CHARMIN. THEY ACTUALLY EVEN COMB THEIR HAIR AND BRUSH THEIR TEETH. JUST-GASP- LIKE YOU AND ME.
In the sad fact about life, aging and the reality that society is leaving us behind, this is where I come to grips with how utterly out-of-touch I am with the rest of America. I am faced with faces I don’t recognize, so-called stars of shows that I’ve never heard of (and could care less about) and news about how such and such star LOST TEN POUNDS AND SO CAN YOU. I also get to gaze at the collective cellulite of shameful beach bodies of said stars, who, sadly, do indeed look like you and me. A star sans airbrushing is a sad sight indeed. It’s what I see in the mirror every damned day, only I’m no star.
Popular weeklies and their bad news about how badly I’m behind aside, magazines are in some ways the stories of our lives. I grew up poring over my parents’ New Yorker. I loved the cartoons even though their punch lines were far over my head. I still love that magazine although I simply don’t have the time to give it the quality reading it deserves. Besides, having lived in and (frankly hating) Manhattan, I can do without reminders. I’d rather invest in Mountain West stories that speak to gear and advice and cool places to hike.
You and I choose reading matter that feeds the brain matter that teaches us about the matters that concern us.
I am vastly more environmentally concerned, therefore am going to seek out information that continues my education. Fashion- the world’s second largest polluter- is a huge part of the problem. While I still love fashion, their pollution record is only one reason my interest has waned, at least for those lines not environmentally conscious. So, no slick fashion mags at my house.
In fact, purely out of curiosity, this past September I bought all the major fashion mags just to see if I was missing anything.
Nope. I love a gorgeous jacket as well as any girl, but I don’t need to be tempted to spend five grand on one, especially when that same five grand is going to pay for a month riding pack horses in Northern British Columbia next summer. Now that’s a useful way to spend money, but that’s just me.
My buddy’s brother is up to his ear hair in magazines, the clip kind that can kill. His reading matter is indicative of his deep and abiding fear. There are plenty of folks out there who share his particular way of being. It sells, therefor there’s a magazine for it.
Years ago George Carlin did a riff on magazines. He was particularly amused by Walking.
“LOOK DAN, the new Walking is out!!!”
“Here’s a great article: How to Put One Foot in Front of the Other!!!!!!”
He has a point. He posited that having a magazine for your industry or your interest or your hobby was a sure sign you’d made it. To solve the homeless problem in America, he suggested a new periodical:
Crates and Barrels Magazine, full of tips and tricks on the best ways to use newspaper to shove into your shoes on a cold night.
My suggestion for a timely article: (with thanks to the survivalist community) How to Protect your Piano Crate from Unwanted Intruders: Ten Tips for Protecting your Middle Class Family From Other Broke Squatters.
From the brand new magazine Life Under the Bridge: America’s Trendy New Take on Outdoor Life.
But I digress.
Your life is reflected in part by the print you pore over. The popular pap you and I consume, which provides the brain food and fodder for our lives.
If you’re still reading back issues of Boy’s Life, might be time for an update. However, for my money, this cover pretty much sums it up for our times, proving that some topics are as perennial as fall fashion- but vastly more important:
I can’t speak for anyone else, but stumbling through a mindless article about some celebrity numbnut named Snooki (who is who, precisely? And she is important, why?) Kind of like the endlessly mindless Kardashians, whom some fashion magazine crowned American Royalty, which is yet another reason I won’t read fashion magazines. I’m sure the Trumps mind a great deal being usurped by an even stupider and shallower community of cretins, but I doubt anyone in that family reads magazines, much less books https://www.newsweek.com/jared-kushner-does-not-read-middle-east-morning-joe-scarborough-712011). So I doubt they got the news that they’re no longer America’s Royal Family.
Unlike the real Royals, there’s no magazine dedicated to the Trumps (http://royalty-magazine.com/)
Um, with one exception. https://www.google.com/search?q=Mad+magazine+covers+on+trump&client=firefox-b-1-ab&source=univ&tbm=shop&tbo=u&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjNzZ6I_LreAhXK6YMKHb7IDCYQsxgIMQ&biw=1696&bih=829.
Mad Magazine’s been around 67 years. There’s a very good reason for it. People love to laugh at stupid shit.
For my money, that’s an excellent reason to have a copy next to the shitter.