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Some moss is gathering

2003-07-23 - 10:36 p.m.

Rolling Stone reached out to me today in a heartfelt letter.

�What�s wrong?� it wanted to know. �You�ve rejected all of our attempts to keep this relationship going.�

It starts off all friendly-feely like that, and then it gets threatening.

�Who else could take our place,� it says. �Newsweek? National Review? Think it over. This is your last chance.�

As if that weren�t enough to win back my love, it says, �We�ve kept skating along on the cutting edge of civilization. You learned about Angelina Jolie through a tour of her Jennifer Aniston, the poster girl to turning 30, got off her couch and fell in love with being physical.�

I think this is what I�ll say when I fire off a letter back to them, one of many I�ve written them in my day: If Rolling Stonedefines �cutting edge� as Angelina Jolie--who I can�t stand anyway-- and her tattoos, which seem totally cliche and outdone and, like, so sorority-girl rather than biker-bitch these days; or Jennifer Aniston-- who I do actually find myself liking, but who I could read about in, oh, I don�t know, maybe ALL the magazines for sale at the grocery store-- then it also must describe butter knives as being wicked sharp.

Everybody knows Rolling Stone isn�t what it used to be, and that it makes no apology for not even trying to be like it used to be. And it�s been at least five years since I�ve found myself being continually disgusted with the magazine�s shift in priorities and editorial choices-- like when the words �Booty Camp� and a scantily-clad Beyonce bounced all over the cover during the week that Joey Ramone died. So I won�t go into a big critique over how it�s changed--that would be like bitching about MTV not having any of the �M� anymore: it�s been that way now forever, and the only people who can�t stop crying about it are us old fogies in our 20�s who miss the moments when we sat up all night waiting for things like the debut of �November Rain.� (What, you didn�t do that? Oh..... yeah...... me neither.)

But I will say, I�m kinda sad to be letting it go. I�ve been a reader for something like 12 or 13 years, and a subscriber for probably 10 of those. Even after it totally changed to a more Aniston-interviewing, hip-hop and teen pop-covering magazine, moving away from the musicians and movements I really wanted to read about, I hung on because of the awesome feature articles on drugs and the penal system and politics, and because of Peter Travers� movie reviews, which were always more like essays that critiqued not just the movies, but the whole state of modern cinema at the time, and how things like an upcoming presidential race could figure into the politics of filmmaking in Hollywood.

Now, though, the reviews are about 200 words long, and they focus on mainly the blockbusters, like �Charlie�s Angels II,� instead of the lesser-publicized stuff you should keep your eyes open for. And some of the recent feature articles have been cheesily-written pieces on things like a dude with a giant schlong, and the phenomenon of �bug-chasing,� which caused a sort-of public outcry and debate about whether the story was even credible. But here I am, critiquing like I promised I wouldn�t. I�m just telling you what finally convinced me to pull the plug.

I�m worried about where I can turn for updates on stuff I really am interested in. And I�m being a little sniffy because my newly-favorite magazine, The Oxford American, the Southern Journal of Good Writing, has bit the dust AGAIN. I�m hoping it�ll get resurrected one more time-- I promise I won�t even bitch if they have to move it to somewhere like Arlington Heights, Ill., and have to put quotes around the word �Southern.�

But I digress. Back to Rolling Stone. I�m ready to say goodbye to the endless features on (and almost-naked photos of) people like Sarah Michelle Gellar and Jennifer Love Hewitt, and to feeling like I�m subscribing to Playboy or Maxim. But in finally admitting to myself that the magazine is bad enough now that I�m ready to let go of a subscription I�ve hung on to for most of my youth, I�m also kind of letting go of a dream.

After all, I, like so many millions of other young wanna-be writers and music lovers, used to never know what I wanted out of life, (and still don�t), but whenever someone would ask me what my dream job would be, I�d say, �Oh.... you know.... to write for Rolling Stone.� I laugh about that now, but it truly was the ultimate goal back when I was younger. I still think of Cameron Crowe�s life as the ultimate example of Cool. But I also think that even if I were to magically make my way up Whatever Kind of Ladder You�d Have to Climb to Write for Rolling Stone, I wouldn�t even want the job now, because I�d be unable to muster up the energy needed to feign interest in Slipknot and (last week�s cover boy) Clay Aiken. (Why God, why?) Of course, that�s not really true, because interviewing Slipknot would have to be more interesting than covering my local school board meeting. (Hire me, please, pretty please!)

I�m trying to think of some creative way I can spend the measly $12.97 savings I�ll get from letting the subscription run out. But I�ll probably end up spending twice that much buying the damn thing every other week off the newsstand.


that was then - this is now

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