To throw a solitary publication is a curiously traumatic thing. I’ve got thousands of magazines stacked in various locations. Incidentally, that wasn’t intended as some low-rent boast. It’s the sad truth. To throw away a single part of the pile feels gut-wrenching-treachery against the dwindling number of print titles out there. Chucking away a fistful of ‘Monocle’ back issues shouldn’t feel like ‘Sophie’s Choice’. That’s just unnatural. Look at the hoarders on BBC fly on the wall shows, living among tins, newspaper stacks and defecating in their back gardens. They were once like you or I. Here’s the problem—I’ve got magazine abandonment issues.
After graduating from Marvel UK weeklies via my 30p pocket-money, and the occasional ‘Spider Man’ in black attire import if I was in hospital for whatever reason, amassed a metre-high paper empire to dip in and out of for a permanent supply of reading matter. How much of that (1982-1987) do I still own? Nada. My collection (1987-1989) of more costly comic books, ‘Fangoria’, ‘Gorezone’,and ‘Cinefantastique’? Gone. My copies (1989-1992) of ‘Sky’, ‘The Face’, ‘RAD’, ‘Thrasher’ and i-D? Binned behind my back. Most gallingly, my issues of ‘Rap Sheet’, ‘The Source’ and ‘The Bomb’ (1992-1996) were disposed of from their position, quietly sat behind a bedroom door during my first year at university. That’s an oversimplified timeline, but I recall the sense of loss for each wave wiped out. I was complicit in a few disposal decisions. Like I would ever work in a role where old Nike catalogues might come in handy…
With each bulk binning, I was like a beaver constantly rebuilding a dam. Sisyphus rolling that rock uphill, time and time again.
Until just recently, magazines came and stayed. That’s been the case for the last few years. I’ve had my fingers burnt in terms of research materials ridded, so I used that justification as a keeper. Then the floor boards began to creak, and it was time for a cull. I love magazines unconditionally. I’d badmouthed the notion of a ‘robo-book” in what interviews I’ve ever done, but I can concede that a tablet is a fair substitute for perishing like the Collyer brothers. I still love the stocks, the spot varnishes, the tactile experience of reading (and stacking). That won’t stop. This Salon piece from April gets to the bottom of the extreme end of collector culture. I’ll make an effort to grab Maxime’s new project, ‘Novembre’ even though I don’t speak Swiss, and I’ll grab ‘AIE Magazine’s inaugural issue and Mr. Vogel has put me onto ‘Case de Abitare’ – the song remains the same.
But I underestimated just how grueling it was to stack five feet of publications and fill a recycling bin, both physically and emotionally. I’m a weirdo. These weren’t even significant copies of anything. I’ve got debut issues for days. They’re staying —those grand launches and indie triumphs that never returned after a single winter. Fleeting glories. But if you spend a tenner on a ‘Monocle’ back issue at a Comme-centric department store, you’re probably a bellend. ‘Wired’ I love, but I’m assuming that the majority of their content will be accessible via the next-gen (I’m holding off) iPad. Yep, I’m really putting my faith in online publishing as justification for the perfect-bound genocide I just committed.
As mentioned before, last year I started writing a magazine-themed piece for TMI. It required constant edits for months as at least a quarter of the publications cited went under. As 2009 reached its cold conclusion, I found myself adding, where I’d been hitting delete with a certain frequency. The magazine realm was obviously in a seriously transitional moment, and attempting to bottle that state an a handful of paragraphs was a fucking disaster. Perhaps I’ll put it on this blog as a cautionary tale. According to Mr. Magazine, these are positive times for print compared to months past. Just being print isn’t enough. I expect a certain quality of writing and integrity that the blogsphere merrily omits. Most new magazines don’t fill that criteria. Enthusiasm isn’t quite enough to propel me from page to page unless you’re teaching me something new. But don’t let me put you off. Those stacks will rise again. And again.