Bob Dylan released “Like A Rolling Stone” in 1965, but it still resonates; the tune was back in the news this month when the musician released an interactive video – a stunning multi-version lipsynced by various folk on television show sets as you, the viewer, channel surf at will. It marks the latest in fun technological achievement.
And the song itself! Two years after it grabbed a new generation, Rolling Stone the magazine was launched in San Francisco by Jann Wenner (among others).
Although it later named Dylan’s tune “the greatest song of all time”, the magazine is said to have actually been named for Muddy Waters’ 1950 classic, “Rollin’ Stone“.
In the very first issue, Wenner wrote that it “is not just about the music, but about the things and attitudes that music embraces.”
The current version of the biweekly features music and musicians, certainly, but also television, celebs, film, and other Americana.
Its popularity and thoughtfulness amply prove that pop culture matters. Even its news garners attention. Most famously, there was gonzo journalist Hunter S Thompson’s drug-fueled satirical reporting. But also P.J. O’Rourke’s astonishing portraits of the working class and the poor.
In the present, there are investigative reporters like Matt Taibbi, whose dogged digging has exposed corporate crime in the US banking meltdown (most memorably, he nicknamed Goldman Sachs “The Great Vampire Squid”). Taibbi’s coverage of the Tea Party makes clear the magazine leans Democratic – but it’s that honesty that allows even political foes to make the mag a must-read.
Not that there’s no controversy. The August issue featured a dreamy cover photo of presumed Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, and Rolling Stone was accused of glamourizing terror. As if the law-abiding should be coddled into believing that we can all somehow easily recognize monsters because they look ugly.
Rolling Stone magazine is now available in the Lennoxville Library. It’s one of many donated publications – thanks to patrons and their thoughtful donations, you can read newspapers such as The Sherbrooke Record and the Montreal Gazette, too. (But note that magazines and newspapers must be read on site.)
There’s also the Canadian (and more conservative) weekly newsmagazine, Maclean’s. It’s a publication with a long history. It launched in 1905 as The Business Magazine, a compendium, collecting up interesting works from publications around the world.
Within a year, founder Lt.-Col. John Bayne Maclean had seen the possibilities of homegrown content.
“Canada at the time was deluged with American publications featuring American writers representing an American point of view,” notes one history of the publication. “Maclean saw in his magazine an opportunity to provide writers in this country with a medium of their own through which they could forward a uniquely Canadian perspective.” And he did, changing the publication’s name and focus.
Maclean’s magazine, too, has been noted for some of its reporting. Here’s a lesser known tale: Sidney Katz penned “My 12 Hours as a Madman” after taking LSD in 1953. This for a Saskatchewan study hoping to copy the experience of schizophrenia.
Katz found it all rather terrifying: “We should insist that our best doctors, technicians and laboratories be immediately sent to rescue the schizophrenic from his endless hell. No goal can be more urgent or more humane. I know.” Sensationalist but well meaning, it’s the sort of writing that one hopes would lead schizophrenics to speak for themselves, rather than put up with others doing so.
These days, Maclean’s is a mix of news, features and special issues (such as the annual Maclean’s Guide to Canadian Universities).
Not your style? Consider Canadian Art magazine. It’s a quarterly out of Toronto that focusses on contemporary art and artists working across the country.
From the Canadian Encyclopedia: “A distinction must be made between art criticism, which is a qualitative judgment of works of art, and the philosophy of art, which is concerned with interpreting works, with discovering the nature, significance and symbolism of art in general. There is, however, reciprocity between art criticism and the philosophy of art: every evaluation of quality always includes an explicit or implicit interpretation of the meaning of the work, and every interpretation implies a previously formulated qualitative judgment.”
“[D]ispassionate, rational criticism” arose in the 1950s, as public galleries began to increase in number in Canada. A second boom came in the 1970s, writes the author, “and caused by an injection of federal funds, garnered an increased public and stimulated art writing.”
To get a handle on what arts writing is like in 2013, check out Canadian Art magazine.
– Eleanor Brown, November 29, 2013