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Reading it Old School

This weekend I was at a Borders bookstore in Northern Virginia when I decided I'd purchase some magazines. I started looking through the periodical racks for a photography magazine because I was interested in seeing what art criticism and journalism looked like for that medium. It turns out I was a bit more casual than I intended, and essentially picked up my first magazine based on sight, vague title recognition, and the fact that it seemed to be the only non-exclusively-digital photography magazine they carried :-)

So I grabbed a copy of Focus: Fine Art Photography Magazine. I kinda wish I'd read through it a little more because it turns out the audience is more the art collector rather than the artist. When I sat down to read some of the photographer profiles I saw more in the way of artist background and exhibition history than motivation, technique, or artistic statement. At least the pictures were gorgeous, including the ads - oh yes! The ads, predominantly for gallery shows, typically featured gorgeous photographs often occupying more than half the page. Short of that, however, I'll probably skip this publication in the future, thank you very much.

I really only planned on buying that first magazine...until I caught a glimpse of Antenna Magazine's Summer 2008 issue (though it seems the Fall issue is out now). Flipping through the pages felt more like looking at a catalog of unrelated miscellany - except I like a lot of it. The page layouts seemed interesting, the photography interesting (if not entirely fresh), and the content, well, I'll get to that. It was so intriguing that I decided to take a chance.

It would seem that Antenna attempts to be a quarterly guidebook for the American male (hipster) consumer. It's organized by an alphabetical index with entry titles that are sometimes straightforward (Flip Flops) and sometimes clever (Legal in Some States). Think of it as a paper copy of Uncrate without (so far) the questionable misfires, and with the addition of some short articles peppered throughout. Of course, that's the ironic part: Antenna is a quarterly, paper publication that's supposed to represent the latest and greatest (it's tag line is, "What Drops Next") in a world where news on the Internet is instant. The strange thing, though, is that it DOES seem to accomplish this goal far better than Uncrate or similar "stuff" sites. This certainly makes me wish all the content was available on the web in a convenient RSS feed...

I don't think I could bring myself to subscribe to this magazine because it would likely tempt my materialistic tendencies too much, but it sure does seem to be an interesting read. It's visually fun, too; I'm no graphic designer, but the format and design was both easy on and interesting to the eye.

Maybe I'll try checking out more magazines in the future, but I have a feeling most of what I'm interested in can still be found here in the Internet, often with more relevance, and more current.