If you’ve read my blog, you know about the television. Here are some magazine subscriptions I remember:
The Advocate (the gay newsweekly), Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine, American Theatre, The Atlantic, The Baffler, Boston magazine, Christopher Street (a long-gone gay literary magazine), Entertainment Weekly, Esquire, Men’s Fitness, Modern Photography (since consumed by Popular Photography), Mother Jones, The Nation, The New Republic, New York magazine, The New Yorker, The New York Review of Books, Psychology Today, Reason (to bone up on libertarianism without having to read Ayn Rand), Rolling Stone, Utne Reader, Vanity Fair, Washington Monthly, the Weekly Standard, Yankee, and Z (“dedicated to resisting injustice”).
There was a magazine about Apple computers in the mix, but I forget the name. There was also Unzipped, a magazine about gay pornography as opposed to a gay pornography magazine. (You can justify any salaciousness by disguising it as sociology.) When I was a teenager just outside of Boston, I also subscribed to the Village Voice, mostly for movie reviews, and that’s the publication that aroused the suspicions of my father about my sexuality, because it kept putting stories about gay rights and AIDS on its front page.
For years, I kept boxes of old magazines and my own morgue of manila folders with torn-out articles from newspapers and periodicals. When I was about 12, I had a dresser drawer stuffed with issues of TV Guide. Some of them got shredded by mice because I also kept Halloween candy in my dresser for months after the holiday. TV Guide is the magazine I wish I had kept for nostalgia, rather than research purposes, but YouTube videos of opening sequences from short-lived shows of the ’70s pretty much serves the same function.
My intent was to go back to those manila folders and use them to write long articles on, say, bizarre crimes. (For years, I followed the case of three teens in Florida who were charged with manslaughter for stealing a stop sign, the absence of which led to a fatal accident. I never figured out anything to say about it.) One project was to write an essay on each state’s political character, but I was never satisfied I had enough random clippings about Delaware or Wyoming.
There was never enough time to do anything with the files except add to them. I was getting several magazines in the mail every week, plus there was the daily newspaper and the weekly alternative newspapers to get through. I was ahead of the curve in blaming information overload for not getting any work done.
But every time I had to move to a new apartment, I would spend a few days going through the files, reorganizing them and getting rid of redundant clippings. I was a curator, a term now applied to anyone who shares stuff on Facebook, but I had no audience.
The magazines and manila folders are almost all gone, made superfluous by the Internet. The New Yorker is the only thing I still pay to have delivered, but lately I’ve been reading it on my iPad. Now I have more room for power cords and broken laptops in my closet.
If I had it to do over again, I would have spent less on magazines and more on socks.
A comfortable pair of socks with a stylish-but-understated pattern is responsible for more pleasure than anything you can find on the magazine rack these days. At home, you can glance at your feet and smile at your good taste and your fortune in not having to buy the three-pairs-for-$5 black socks that leave flea-size pieces of lint all over your carpet and bed sheets. Good socks can give you confidence at a job interview, unlike the knowledge that you have piles of magazines on your bedroom floor. If only I had paid more attention to hosiery than Harper’s, where would I be today?