This is about a magazine that you’ve probably never read, but might want to have a look at.

On Magazine Stores · Most cities have them; stores, usually in dreary locations, and sans decor, that have nothing but magazines, many times more than you’d find on the stand at any bookstore. They’re usually worth visiting; in some aisles you’ll be impressed by your species’ eclecticism and imagination, and in others depressed by its ability to waste time on the dreariest vapidity. I try to buy, occasionally, a magazine I’ve never heard of, and you know what? Usually they’re crap.

Cabinet Magazine · It isn’t crap. It’s actually kind of excellent. The picture on the front will make you laugh, and the back is blank white with a teeny little classified ad in the center, like so:

WANTED: Somebody to go back in time with me. This is not a joke. P.O. Box 1227, Bloomington, IN 47402. You'll get paid after we get back. Must bring your own weapons. Safety not guaranteed. I have only done this once before.

Well, it turns out that Cabinet is about Art and don’t you forget it, but it’s got a considerable sense of humor and a lot of good writing. Before I get into details, a bit of research explains how this hardly-mass-market publication, beautifully printed on fine paper, dotted with only a few ads (for galleries and art exhibits) makes a go of it: quite a few hefty donations from rich people, itemized on page 3. If I had a hundred grand to spare I’d consider it.

What’s In The Package · Along with some pretty good writing and remarkable pictures, the magazine includes a postcard to the future from 1897, a detachable Alien-Timeline bookmark, and a remarkable CD to which I’m listening as I type this, entitled Past Forward. It includes a 1913 speech by Woodrow Wilson, an unusually multitracked recording of T.S. Eliot, a recording of 1026 German high-school students each reading one page of Joyce’s Ulysses, soundtracks from conceptual artworks by Kara Lynch and others I haven’t heard of, Eisenhower’s farewell address, live sound recordings from contemporary politics and recent wars, and... well, it’s a mind-stretcher.

And it fits in with this issue’s theme, which is “Histories of the Future.” This includes future visions influenced by Ham Radio, the Atomic Age, and a bunch of other stuff (some with beautiful graphics) that rather defies description. And it includes a generous snippet of Ted Nelson and Xanadu, as notable as anyone among those who forecast a future that didn’t happen but changed the future with the forecast.

Imagine, if you will, a two-page spread containing thumbnail-size full-colour reproduction of the front covers of fifty different editions of H.G. Wells’ The War of the Worlds, from 1898 to 2002.

There’s a rather shocking essay on Tijuana, and a level-headed discussion about art metadata with a database admin from the Getty collection.

It’s Not Perfect · We are occasionally reminded that this is after all Art by a nod to Derrida, or a word like “alterity” or “liminal,” but it mostly doesn’t get in the way.

Anyhow, I’ll buy it whenever I see it, or maybe subscribe. I kind of think that anyone who likes reading ongoing might like this too.

Plus, the Web site is decent.

author · Dad
colophon · rights
picture of the day
July 21, 2004
· Arts (11 fragments)
· · Books (127 more)

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