REDUCE, REUSE, RECYCLE: TRYING TO STOP THE MAGAZINE MADNESS
In the beginning, I had too many magazines.
Newsweek, The New Yorker, New York, Premiere…They piled up in the corners of my studio, on my bathroom floor, on my desk, in my gym bag. They threatened to cover my dining room table. They seemed to be reproducing asexually, as some sort of hybrid magazine-Gremlin creature, advancing over the wooden floor, reaching out to smother and intimidate me with their mere presence…plus, there was the small matter of cost. I needed to pinch pennies wherever I could, and these magazines were not necessities.
I needed to streamline my life and my finances. I needed to cancel my subscriptions.
But then I realized canceling would be too much work. I’d have to track down the subscription information, call and “break up” with the magazine over the phone. It seemed so inhumane. So I decided on a gentler tactic, inspired by the non-breakup relationship fadeout employed by a college ex-boyfriend: I would let my subscriptions expire, and not renew them.
I kept Newsweek, because it contained actual news. Since I only get the New York Times on the weekends, getting Newsweek helped me understand the world around me before the weekend. But with the rest of them, I was merciless.
The first to go was New York magazine. It was a shopping-and-celebrity image gossipfest, punctuated by the occasional rant of a politician or city celebrity profile, and the only reason I had subscribed to begin with was that the crossword puzzles were easier than those in the Times and made me feel smarter. But in the new era of slashing my entertainment budget, I just couldn’t justify getting a whole magazine for a crossword puzzle.
Then, I kissed The New Yorker goodbye. The cartoons had failed to amuse me one too many times, and I found their articles pretentious and appallingly long; as an editor, I saw, in my mind’s eye, a kinder, simpler world, where each of the feature articles was a third shorter and no one missed the extra verbiage. Hasta la vista, you longwinded, overhyped, affected publication.
But Premiere was hard. I love movies. And I love knowing everything about the movie-making process. I love knowing who the up-and-coming stars are, and I always loved Libby Gelman-Waxner’s “If You Ask Me…” column, which was the type of column I hoped to have one day. But there was no room to indulge my weepy sentimentality. Premiere had to go.
A year passed, and I had learned to live without them.
But in their wake, a new crop of magazines did rise. Since I had become a full-time freelancer, and was trying to familiarize myself with the consumer magazine market, I had slipped, one subscription at a time, back into my old magazine habits. Before I knew it, things were worse than ever. Instead of the basic four, I found myself the inadvertent owner of subscriptions to the following FOURTEEN magazines: Marie Claire, Lucky, Weight Watchers, Hadassah, Shape, Fitness, Real Simple, JANE, New York (proof of the City’s indomitability), Newsweek, Strong (some freebie mag from New York Sports Club), Writer’s Digest, Entertainment Weekly and Premiere (proof of Libby Gelman-Waxner’s indomitability). Plus, the New York Times Magazine, and a few straggler issues of CosmoGirl! and YM I was using for market research (and delicious pictures of Orlando Bloom).
Yes, it’s all tax-deductible, as a business expense. But there are so many of them—I’ve come to realize that to let subscriptions fade is not an effective streamlining technique. The magazine mess continues.
As I lie awake nights thinking about the mags on my floor, desk, table etc, I imagine myself caught in a magazine-centered Matrix scenario, scared that if I eventually sleep, the magazines will seize their opportunity to conquer, liquefy my body and use me for food. So strengthened, they will cruise, unfettered by human interference, back and forth over the wooden floors of my studio, as they convert it into the base camp for plotting their domination of, first, West 85th Street, and then, the world.
Or maybe they won’t. But in my apartment, the magazines still reign supreme.