Culture / Newsy

Magazines That Still Inspire Us — Newsstands May be Dying, But the Impact Remains Real

Now Hear This

BY // 05.23.19

Perhaps it’s a generational thing, but I am a Gen Xer and grew up in an era where I read — and collected — magazines in print. Not online and read via tablet.

I was elated when I learned that Forty Five Ten was creating an area for magazines directly adjacent to its No Aloha cafe where one can grab a quick sandwich or perhaps a cappuccino to sip while reading through some more obscure publications like Self Service, Marfa Journal and The Paris Review.

For this week’s PaperCity Dallas Now Hear This office question, I asked my colleagues: What are some of your favorite magazines of the past, and what do you read currently?

Collectively, they all, of course, answered PaperCity, but here are some of their other responses.

Christina Geyer, Dallas Editor-in-Chief

As a child, the only time in my life that I would ever consider myself spoiled was when my dad would take me to our local newsstand, Bungalow News. (Sadly, like many other newsstands, Bungalow News has since shuttered.)

Dad would let me pick out anything I wanted. I would load up my arms with as many fashion magazines as I could find.

Most were international titles — Vogue Italia, Vogue Paris — and avant-garde titles I can’t remember now.

I couldn’t have been older than eight when this tradition started, and little did my dad know that these trips to Bungalow News would inform my education and my career in the years to come. 

As of late, I find the quality of so many national magazines in rapid decline — the age of the Editor-in-Chief as an icon of editorial independence is gone.

And so we are left with puppet editors who are often at the mercy of pleasing advertisers through their magazine’s content. (To get a sense of what I’m talking about, read Tina Brown’s Vanity Fair Diaries for a solid look at what editorial independence and innovation really meant.)

That said, I often find myself referencing old issues of magazines for inspiration: Holiday, in particular, was a publication of editorial genius. Of course, any of the big titles — W, Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar — that were published pre-2008 are always a compelling read.

And I love some of the new books being produced on a limited basis: Luncheon. The revitalization of Holiday. Kinfolk. Cabana

As for the current titles in production, the only magazines I still read cover to cover are those produced by the Wall Street Journal and The New York TimesWSJ Magazine and T. The editorial integrity is unparalleled. The photography and writing are far superior to any of the competition. And the mix of storytelling is spot-on when you consider the reader.

A room in Moncalieri, Cabana, Issue 2
A room in Moncalieri, Cabana, Issue 2

Rebecca Sherman, Home Design Editor

Interview will always have a place in my heart. It was founded in 1969 by Andy Warhol and British journalist John Wilcock, but it was always Andy Warhol’s magazine.

Warhol carried a cassette tape recorder with him everywhere, asking the most interesting people of the era — John Lennon, David Bowie, a teenage Jodie Foster fresh off Taxi Driver — some of the most trivial and intimate questions imaginable. What they ate for breakfast, whether they wore underwear to bed — that kind of thing.

The conversations ran raw and unedited, and even included the words “umm” and “well.” They could be wacky — in 1974, John Lennon interviewed himself under the alias Dr. Winston O’Boogie, claiming to have seen a UFO from his window in Manhattan.

Reading Warhol’s interviews was sort of like eavesdropping, and the unvarnished dialogues were anything but boring; they wheeled off the page with energy. The magazine was large-format and hefty, and it wasn’t something you got through in one sitting.

The artsy covers felt smart and featured hand-painted portraits of Warhol’s interview subjects, printed on grainy, matte paper.

I was in my twenties by the time I started reading Interview in the 1980s. My literary friends were into it, and so were the budding artists and musicians I knew. I was only dreaming about becoming a writer then, and the magazine’s interviews were my first introduction to the visceral power of the Q&A.

Some of the best were when celebrities interviewed each other like when Harry Dean Stanton sat down with Madonna in 1985. Stanton hadn’t done Pretty in Pink yet, but he had done Paris, Texas — a beautiful and pensive road movie written by playwright Sam Shepard.

Madonna had just married Sean Penn. It seems like an odd pairing, but Stanton’s simple questions elicited provocative answers. In the Q&A, we learn that Madonna has an irrational hatred for dandelions that goes back to her childhood, is obsessed with the poetry of Rainer Maria Rilke, and is even more obsessed with the writer Charles Bukowski himself, whom she imagines stalking.

An iconic “Interview” magazine cover of Jodie Foster (can you believe it was only $2.50?).
An iconic “Interview” magazine cover of Jodie Foster (can you believe it was only $2.50?).

She listens to music by Vivaldi, Bach, Handel and Ella Fitzgerald. The interview wraps up with Madonna describing how she and Penn got engaged. The singer had been jumping up and down on a motel room bed one Sunday morning out in the middle of nowhere, Tennessee, when she looked at Penn and just knew he was going to propose.

“He didn’t say it out loud, I read his mind,” she tells Stanton. “It felt like I just knew what he was thinking. What I said was, ‘Whatever you’re thinking. I’ll say yes to.’ That was his chance. So he popped it. Then we went to the 7-Eleven and bought a whole bunch of jawbreakers and celebrated.”

Warhol died in 1987, and maybe that’s when the magazine lost its luster for me. A succession of owners, editors and publishers have kept it going, churning out some really great work, but I rarely pick it up. Warhol’s freewheeling, unconventional interview style is long gone.

All I have to do is picture Warhol sliding a cassette recorder on the table, pressing play, and there’s nothing else to contemplate.

Billy Fong, Culture and Style Editor

I love reading the answers to the weekly “Now Hear This” as they come through from my work friends. Normally I wait and share the finished piece with everyone at once, but when I saw Rebecca’s answer I had to reach out to her to discuss our shared love of Interview magazine.

Growing up in a relatively small, Southern town — Tallahassee — I dreamed of escaping to a big city. Of course, the biggest and the brightest was New York City.

I first discovered Interview in middle school at Waldenbooks — a long gone bookstore — at my local mall. My weekly allowance was $5 and I would always make sure I had enough saved to buy an issue, at that time $2.50. I would bring it home and then slowly savor page after page.

The articles/interviews that Rebecca referred to were always incredibly fascinating, but honestly, I was most obsessed with the ads. They were fantasy. The chic clothes from Calvin Klein were what I wanted to wear. The nightclubs (BTW, there was often one for Dallas’ famed Starck Club) and restaurants seemed like they would be filled with sophisticated and intellectual people who would truly understand me.

I guess in those awkward teenage years, I so wanted to fit in and somehow the world that Interview exposed me to seemed like one where that might be possible.

In high school, I began discovering fashion magazines and my favorite was Taxi. Unfortunately, with age goes some memories. I recall that it always had vibrant covers and featured edgier topics.

In college, I was an in-it-to-win-it art history major so I felt it was important to try and always read cover-to-cover both Art in America and ARTNews.

The former was much more intellectual, and I’ll confess having to often have a dictionary on hand to look up words. However, the latter was like the art world’s version of People or In Style. Much fluffier and easier to get through without much heavy thinking.

Post-college I guess I became more interested in the concept of lifestyle publications. The term “lifestyle” I feel was relatively new in the mid-90s. Living in Miami, some stylist friends recommended Wallpaper* which I immediately became enamored with. Wallpaper* was the brainchild of the brilliant journalist Tyler Brûlé.

The editorial spreads were wonderful since they listed the designer and prices of the outfits the models were wearing, the recipe for the canapés they were eating and the location to find the drool-worthy rug.

They created tableaus with a narrative of the life I wanted to have — and they provided the instructions on how to purchase that life.

After moving to Los Angeles, someone at the museum I was working for handed me a copy of Dwell and I became convinced that all my life needed was a mid-century modern home with ergonomic furniture and perhaps a Volvo in the driveway. The magazine inspired me to be efficient, without losing chic design.

In the last decade, I have continued to read all the standard fashion and culture publications: Vogue, Town & Country, Vanity Fair, but only one inspires me and I’ve tried to save most issues: Fantastic Man.

I can’t end my answer without a special shout-out to Reader’s Digest. This was probably the first magazine I remember reading. My parents always seemed to have a subscription (maybe I have romanticized things, but I honestly remember seeing copies through my thirties when I would go home to visit).

When I recently went back to see my dad in Tallahassee I remember thinking, “Is there a copy I can read around here?” It always had simple, uncomplicated stories that often inspired and most of all somehow gave me comfort and a feeling of home.

Lisa Collins Shaddock, Senior Editor

My love of magazines runs deep. From as early as I can remember, I was completely enthralled. I have pored over them, been inspired by them, collected them, created poster-sized collages out of them to frame and cover my bedroom walls, and spent hours studying their mastheads to learn the names of every editor (this was before they were all on Instagram).

I’ve watched my favorite titles evolve through various phases over the years — from American Girl (yes, as in the dolls), Teen Vogue and Domino to W, Vogue, Veranda, WSJ and more (clearly I have evolved as well) — but the thrill that I find within the pages of a print magazine is as strong as ever.

Megan Ziots, Dallas Digital Reporter

I grew up playing competitive tennis so I always read Tennis magazine. It always had the current most popular player on the cover (something to aspire to) and visual instructions for how to improve specific strokes of your game (something to work on).

Although they also have the website now, I still like flipping through the physical magazine like I did as a kid when my whole life was the sport.

I also love Variety magazine. I was a film major in college and have always been obsessed with TV and movies. After college, I lived in Los Angeles for a year and actually had an internship in the data/research department of the company. That was pretty boring, entering info into the computer all day, so I’d browse the magazines. They just made the industry look so glamorous. I especially loved reading about indie movies and shows that I used to watch a lot of.

And, of course, Seventeen, J-14 and Pop Star were all that I read in the early 2000s as a teen heartthrob-obsessed teenager.

Hillery Stack, Dallas Publisher

I love this question, and I love magazines. Don’t get me wrong, I love my devices, but nothing beats flipping through a glossy magazine. Aside from PaperCity (ahem, selfless plug), my two favorite magazines were Domino and Lucky.

Sadly, neither exists anymore, but I loved them dearly. Domino was the perfect fusion of home, design and lifestyle and Lucky was my ultimate shopping magazine, and I looked forward to their shopping event “Lucky Shops” every year.

Nowadays, you can bank on the fact that I will have Town & Country, Elle Décor, Marie Claire and US Weekly in my home at all times.

Maggie Wilson, Events and Partnerships Manager

I’m still a big fan of all things print: magazines, newspapers and hardcover books. One of my favorite magazines is Town & Country. They have great writers and fun articles. They always have insightful profiles on philanthropists all over the world that I find great inspiration from.

I always drool over the beautiful wedding features in their issues, and they make me long for a lavish wedding of my own.

I also love The New Yorker, which has a very different focus and feel than Town & Country. Long-form journalism can be tough, but their articles are always interesting and keep me up-to-date on important topics and issues.

My dad has read The New Yorker for as long as I can remember, and when I was younger I would always pick it up after he finished it and attempt to read it (aka I would mainly skim through and read the comics). Now I have a subscription of my own and still spend the month attempting to read through my picks in each issue.

Samantha Olguin, Sales Account Director and Director of Business Development, Dallas

I loved Highlights (a doctor’s office favorite), Teen Vogue (the young and inspired mind), Town & Country (current second favorite) and as the makeup junkie I was my whole life, of course, my all-time favorite and youthful obsession was Allure

If you ever have something you want our team to address, shoot us your thoughts via social media or email (@papercitydallas on Instagram; facebook.com/papercitymagdallas on Facebook; or yours truly, billy@papercitymag.com). Or, better yet send a message to the office, handwritten on the Smythson stationery of your choice — and feel free to include a bottle of Veuve. Champagne really helps get the ideas flowing.

Look for the next installment of Now Hear This from Billy Fong next week.

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