Hats Off to Rolling Stone
Hats off to Jann Wenner, founder of Rolling Stone magazine. For years, he's been pummelled in some quarters--deservedly so, I think--for allowing what was once a journalistic icon (at least to some) to descend into a cartoon of itself. For several years, he got lost in trying to stay ahead of the so-called "laddie mag" wave, a dumbing-down of men's mags first popularized by Details Magazine and British-owned Dennis Publishing. It seemed he had given up and thrown in the towel on serious journalism to accompany his music fanzine.
But a funny thing happened on the way down the drain. A couple years ago, about the time he got caught up in headlines over his complicated personal life, Wenner seems to have gotten a second wind. I wrote about it a little a couple of years ago, in a piece in Northern Ohio Live (no longer online) about author and Cleveland native Evan Wright. Wright's Iraq war reporting for Rolling Stone won a National Magazine award in 2004, and was later turned into a fine book entitled Generation Kill. I think that honor played at least a small role in helping Wenner get back to his roots. The L.A.-based Wright moved on from the magazine (I hear he's hard at work on another book, more about which later), but Rolling Stone did well again in this year's National Magazine Awards.
But this astoundingly well-done cover piece in the current issue, written by Princeton historian Sean Willentz (whose work has graced The New Republic for many years), may be the new high water mark. Just make some time this weekend to read this piece. I promise it'll be well worth your while.
Some Parenting/Family Columns. After receiving a nice comment the other day on an earlier post from a reader who found this site after having read one of my columns in Cleveland Family mag, it dawned on me that I haven't linked to any of those columns in quite some time. I suppose I got out of the habit because a). I stopped doing them monthly about a year and a half ago (I'm now in a comfortable every-other-month rotation, with my friend Jill Zimon sounding off on the mom's perspective in the other months), and also because the publication's website is so butt-ugly, and I kept assuming they'd eventually dress it up a bit so as to show off the writing a bit better (the print design is actually pretty nice, so I should really just link to the PDF versions). But in the end, the obvious conclusion was this: who the hell really cares? So here they are: click here for the current column, here for February's, here for last November's, and here for the September column. I also ruminated on Madonna's zero-TV policy here last summer. And while you're at it, why not check out some of Jill's columns (here, here, here and here), as well as her lively blog and her personal site. Now, after having reviewed all that material, reading it word for word, how are your eyes feeling? Need a little Visine?