Saturday, March 28, 2009

Newsstand Rundown: Winners, Losers, and G&M Love

My weekend so far has been ideal. Tons of yoga. Sleep (including an epic nap today). Early morning groceries and some excellent healthy food. A lengthy sojourn at our very well stocked public library. It may be my last chilled out weekend for the next five months and knowing that makes the quiet slowness delicious. However, it's also the exact model I'll be following on my life sabbatical (except less yoga and more surf).


The G&M sometimes does a decent magazine roundup and for something more critical, may I suggest Jezebel's dissections.

There are two winners in the pile this month, so far: Real Simple and Rolling Stone.

Vanity Fair: I simply can't take anymore heartbreaking econ journalism, even with Paul Rudd on the cover. I couldn't even pick up your magazine to find out what the New American Dream was. I am sorry.

Vogue: I'm not sure why Anna Wintour's ed letter now gets three pages for one page of text but your last two issues (yes, I'm including the Obama issue - which was quite good) have been surprisingly thin on content. The only really memorable article was the younger Huston's writing about Jack Nicholson as a young dad and Anjelica's relationship with him. The fashion spreads sucked. The prediction of "shoulders" coming back didn't feel timely. The Gainsbourg piece was done better by French Vogue in January 2008. Not worth the cover price.

BUST: for a cool DIY magazine directed towards savvy twenty somethings you probably should have channeled old JANE financial advice articles instead of going over the most basic steps ever... that's not journalism. Something about women-driving micro economies would be cool and BUST could be the one to break it. Also, how can young women help each other out right now? The editorial kind of touched on this but didn't get that this is the story right now. Always the keeper of the best album reviews, though.

Real Simple: the cover is... eh. However, there's a top notch article on ways of staying in touch (via reader contributions), a decent article on non-commercial cleaning products, and a solid research based fitness article. One note: Borax is not an environmentally friendly or safe cleaning product, just for the record. Much better than last month and probably worth the cover price - I definitely learned a few things and the focus on relationships was zeitgeisty.

Rolling Stone: You minx! The Gossip Girl cover walks that find line between softcore and feeding exactly what's to love about Gossip Girl. Blake and Leighton have that thing right now, the same thing Mischa Barton had so briefly in the first season of The O.C., the style and self possession that demands a little emulation. The timing is perfect - the last two episodes of the series have been major improvements over the pre-Christmas plot lines. There's a decent econ news article that makes the aging magazine feel a little relevant coupled with profiles of people who matter... that actually includes some people who matter (and Bono).

For Canadians, Outdoor this month is particularly good and well rounded.

Say what you like about media contraction (and I really am sad the CBC basically cut 10% of employees last week), it was time for a thinning of the herd and some publications are getting distinctly better and more innovative while others get thinner and less relevant. Survival of the fittest? Hopefully the talent from folding pubs is picked up by the healthier ones.


G&M Weekend Notes

The corporate strategies of Lululemon are really interesting right now. Technically, the store should be really hard hit by the downturn - the gear could be difficult to justify in good times. I recently ended up with a pair of Roots yoga pants for $35 (I had a coupon) and despite my initial misgivings... they're pretty comparable. Better, they're not as obviously branded. The further I get into practice, the less I want some logo apparent when I'm trying to focus on the distinctly non-material.

Since el Recessiono hit, the G&M has been doing younger "financial facelift" profiles. I'm not sure if this is because they literally have no more advice to offer most people attempting to retire in the next couple of years but I obviously enjoy the shift to the under forty set. However, I wish this week they'd given more detail about why the couple needed a more expensive house ($600K to $900K upgrade? Even in Van?). I actually heard a table rip the article apart over my lunch this afternoon.

The resource coverage has been decent but how about an in depth analysis of gold and oil and world currencies next week? It's what I'm most curious about getting expert opinions on right now. The US media has been doing some excellent pieces on the dollar and hypothetical IMF driven World reserve currency, where's the Canadian spin?

Also, as a country that loves political inquiries, high level consensus (compare our Supreme Court jurisprudence to either the House of Lords or the American version), and that has little interest in sex scandals (it's actually unclear if anyone political in Canada has much sex, ever, and we like it like that in our igloos)... it's no surprise the Canadian move right now is looking at studying financial regulatory oversight and revamping it. I support this and think we have a better shot at a viable model than most countries, I also think it will help inoculate against ripples that might follow any quick signs of recovery. The fact is, new financial "products" are going to be made available as "solutions" and we need a way of screening them.

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