Random Musings From Gerry Mandel-Spring 2018

In your hands, the continuation of a proud legacy.

You are holding one of the most ubiquitous information and communication devices ever created. You can do things with it that you can’t do with a smart phone or a laptop. You don’t need a password, facial recognition or a finger print to enter its realm. A Wi-Fi connection is totally irrelevant. There’s no screen, a rarity these days. You never have to charge it, and it never crashes, deletes or suggests an update.

Yes, that flexible compendium of stapled or glued pages known as The Magazine remains one of the enduring components of our culture. Not many years ago, I thought the world of magazines was doomed. In 2007, Amazon introduced the Kindle. That, said many experts, presaged the end of the printed word as we knew it. People would flock to digital books. After all, you could carry dozens of books in your purse or jacket
pocket. Barnes and Noble came out with the Nook. Independent book stores began disappearing faster than Rams fans.

Recent figures, however, show that the popularity of digital books has dropped off and “real” books have surged back. I’m pleased with that. To me, a book isn’t a book unless you can actually turn a paper page.

Which brings me back to magazines.

Amazing as it may sound, magazines are more prolific than ever. Just take a look at the magazine racks in stores around the area – Barnes and Noble, and World News in Clayton. Walgreen’s and CVS display a healthy array of publications. And you can’t get through any major airport in America without passing several opportunities to buy a magazine for your flight.

I think my fascination with magazines began with the Great American Comic Books, back in the 1950’s. My young mind was permanently shaped and twisted by the monthly exploits of Batman, Captain Marvel, Pogo Possum – among many others – and my favorite line of comics, EC, published by William Gaines, an American literary hero. These included Weird Science, Tales of Horror, Two-Fisted Tales, and the brilliant humor of Mad comics. They’re all gone today, except as reprints and at collectors’ shops.

But real magazines prevail. Even old ones. Every year during the Christmas shopping season, a vendor sets up shop on the main floor of West County Shopping Center, with hundreds of magazines, including Life, Look, Rolling Stone, Sports Illustrated, and even Prom Magazine (Where did you go to high school?). These date back to the 1930’s. He does a booming business, especially in issues with covers of idols such as the Beatles, Marilyn Monroe, Stan Musial, Frank Sinatra, Elvis and even Ronald Reagan.

Today about 7,000 magazines are published. That number has remained fairly constant over the years, even through the Kindle invasion. Spend an hour or so at a Barnes and Noble or World News. You’ll be dazzled by the variety of subjects, the use of color, design and photography, by editorial content and geographic reach. The past, present and future are all covered every month.

Finally, here are other attributes of magazines.Like an article or photo? Tear out the page and stick it in your pocket. Highlight an article. See a spider on the wall? Smack it with a rolled-up magazine. You can even smell good by testing the perfumes and fragrances embedded in magazines like Vogue. Here’s a sample of the transcendent descriptions accompanying these scents. Tom Ford for men: “The duality of the noir man mirrors the dynamic tension between contrasts,where the high-shine glare against grey metal and the black veins of Macassar pour into primal night.” Wow!!! Or this for women from Ralph Lauren. “Fearless yet feminine. For the woman who strikes an alluring harmony between audacious power and feminine grace.” I don’t care what they smell like. I got to get me some.

Which brings us back to this magazine in your hands. It may not be the final word on national issues or the upcoming pennant race, but it is a proud member of a distinguished
family. Treat it with honor.