In 1997, Wired Magazine Predicts 10 Things That Could Go Wrong in the 21st Century: “An Uncontrollable Plague,” Climate Crisis, Russia Becomes a Kleptocracy & More

Hydro­gen-pow­ered cars. Bio­log­i­cal, then quan­tum com­put­ing. Gene-ther­a­py can­cer treat­ments. An end to the War on Drugs. Reli­able auto­mat­ic trans­la­tion. The impend­ing end of the nation-state. Man set­ting foot on Mars. These are just a few of the devel­op­ments in store for our world by the year 2020 — or so, at any rate, pre­dicts “The Long Boom,” the cov­er sto­ry of a 1997 issue of Wired mag­a­zine, the offi­cial organ of 1990s tech­no-opti­mism. “We’re fac­ing 25 years of pros­per­i­ty, free­dom, and a bet­ter envi­ron­ment for the whole world,” declares the cov­er itself. “You got a prob­lem with that?”

Since the actu­al year 2020, this image has been smirk­ing­ly re-cir­cu­lat­ed as a prime exam­ple of blink­ered End-of-His­to­ry tri­umphal­ism. From the van­tage of 2021, it’s fair to say that the pre­dic­tions of the arti­cle’s authors Peter Schwartz and Peter Ley­den (who expand­ed their the­sis into a 2000 book) went wide of the mark.

But their vision of the 21st cen­tu­ry has­n’t proven ris­i­ble in every aspect: a ris­ing Chi­na, hybrid cars, video calls, and online gro­cery-shop­ping have become famil­iar enough hard­ly to mer­it com­ment, as has the inter­net’s sta­tus as “the main medi­um of the 21st cen­tu­ry.” And who among us would describe the cost of uni­ver­si­ty as any­thing but “absurd”?

Schwartz and Ley­den do allow for dark­er pos­si­bil­i­ties than their things-can-only-get-bet­ter rhetoric make it seem. Some of these they enu­mer­ate in a side­bar (remem­ber side­bars?) head­lined “Ten Sce­nario Spoil­ers.” Though not includ­ed in the arti­cle as archived on Wired’s web site, it has recent­ly been scanned and post­ed to social media, with viral results. A “new Cold War” between the U.S. and Chi­na; a “glob­al cli­mate change that, among oth­er things, dis­rupts the food sup­ply”; a “major rise in crime and ter­ror­ism forces the world to pull back in fear”; an “uncon­trol­lable plague — a mod­ern-day influen­za epi­dem­ic or its equiv­a­lent”: to one degree or anoth­er, every sin­gle one of these ten dire devel­op­ments seems in our time to have come to pass.

“We’re still on the front edge of the great glob­al boom,” we’re remind­ed in the piece’s con­clu­sion. “A hell of a lot of things could go wrong.” You don’t say. Yet for all of the 21st-cen­tu­ry trou­bles that few rid­ing the wave of first-dot-com-boom utopi­anism would have cred­it­ed, we today run the risk of see­ing our world as too dystopi­an. Now as then, “the vast array of prob­lems to solve and the sheer mag­ni­tude of the changes that need to take place are enough to make any glob­al orga­ni­za­tion give up, any nation back down, any rea­son­able per­son curl up in a ball.” We could use a fresh infu­sion of what Schwartz and Ley­den frame as the boom’s key ingre­di­ent: Amer­i­can opti­mism. “Amer­i­cans don’t under­stand lim­its. They have bound­less con­fi­dence in their abil­i­ty to solve prob­lems. And they have an amaz­ing capac­i­ty to think they real­ly can change the world.” In that par­tic­u­lar sense, per­haps we all should become Amer­i­cans after all.

via Red­dit

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Pio­neer­ing Sci-Fi Author William Gib­son Pre­dicts in 1997 How the Inter­net Will Change Our World

Why 1999 Was the Year of Dystopi­an Office Movies: What The Matrix, Fight Club, Amer­i­can Beau­ty, Office Space & Being John Malkovich Shared in Com­mon

In 1926, Niko­la Tes­la Pre­dicts the World of 2026

Futur­ist from 1901 Describes the World of 2001: Opera by Tele­phone, Free Col­lege & Pneu­mat­ic Tubes Aplen­ty

From the Annals of Opti­mism: The News­pa­per Indus­try in 1981 Imag­ines its Dig­i­tal Future

167 Pieces of Life & Work Advice from Kevin Kel­ly, Found­ing Edi­tor of Wired Mag­a­zine & The Whole Earth Review

Based in Seoul, Col­in Mar­shall writes and broad­casts on cities and cul­ture. His projects include the book The State­less City: a Walk through 21st-Cen­tu­ry Los Ange­les and the video series The City in Cin­e­ma. Fol­low him on Twit­ter at @colinmarshall or on Face­book.

Watch 30+ Exceptional Short Films for Free in The New Yorker’s Online Screening Room

For short films, find­ing an audi­ence is an often uphill bat­tle. Even major award win­ners strug­gle to reach view­ers out­side of the fes­ti­val cir­cuit.

Thank good­ness for The Screen­ing Room, The New Yorker’s online plat­form for shar­ing short films.

It’s a mag­nif­i­cent free buf­fet for those of us who’d like noth­ing bet­ter than to gorge our­selves on these lit­tle gems.

If you’re not yet a fan of the form, allow us to sug­gest that any one of the 30 fic­tion­al shorts post­ed in The Screen­ing Room could func­tion as a superb palate cleanser between binge watch­es of more reg­u­lar fare.

Take co-direc­tors Ami­na Sut­ton and Maya Tanaka’s hilar­i­ous The Price of Cheap Rent, clock­ing in at 6 1/2 min­utes, above.

A com­mu­ni­ty-sup­port­ed project, star­ring Sut­ton and shot in Tanaka’s Brook­lyn apart­ment, it’s a com­e­dy of man­ners that brings fresh mean­ing to the semi-con­tro­ver­sial phrase “Bed Stuy, Do or Die.”

Sut­ton plays a young Black artist with a mas­ters from Yale, a gig behind the bar at Applebee’s, and a keen inter­est in posi­tion­ing her­self as an influ­encer, an ambi­tion the film­mak­ers lam­poon with glee.

When she dis­cov­ers that her new apart­ment is haunt­ed, she is “so freaked the f&ck out,” she spends a week sleep­ing in the park, before ven­tur­ing back:

And it’s a stu­dio, so it’s like liv­ing in a clown car of hell.

But once she dis­cov­ers (or pos­si­bly just decides) that the major­i­ty of the ghosts are Black, she begins plan­ning a pod­cast and makes her peace with stay­ing put.

Pros: the rent’s a lot less than the 1‑bathroom dump she shared with five room­mates, there’s laun­dry in the base­ment, and the ghosts, whom she now con­ceives of as ances­tors, share many of her inter­ests — his­to­ry, the arts, and the 1995 live action/CGI adap­ta­tion of Casper the Friend­ly Ghost. (They give Ghost­busters a thumbs down.)

Cons: the ghost of an 18th-cen­tu­ry Dutch Protes­tant set­tler whose white fragili­ty man­i­fests in irri­tat­ing, but man­age­able ways.

Those with 18 min­utes to spare should check out Joy Joy Nails, anoth­er very fun­ny film hing­ing on iden­ti­ty.

Every day a group of salty, young Kore­an women await the van that will trans­port them from their cramped quar­ters in Flush­ing, Queens, to a nail salon in a ritzi­er — and, judg­ing by the cus­tomers, far whiter — neigh­bor­hood.

Writer-direc­tor Joey Ally con­trasts the salon’s aggres­sive­ly pink decor and the employ­ees’ chum­my def­er­ence to their reg­u­lar cus­tomers with the grub­bi­ness of the break room and the trans­ac­tion­al nature of the exchange.

“Any­one not fired with enthu­si­asm… will be!” threat­ens a yel­lowed notice taped in the employ­ees only area.

Behind the reg­is­ter, the veil is lift­ed a bit, nar­row­ing the upstairs/downstairs divide with real­is­ti­cal­ly home­made signs:

“CASH! FOR TIP ONLY”

Like Sut­ton and Tana­ka, Ally is versed in hor­ror tropes, inspir­ing dread with close ups of pumice stones, emory boards, and cuti­cle trim­mers at work.

When a more objec­tive view is need­ed, she cuts to the black-and-white secu­ri­ty feed under the recep­tion counter.

When one of the cus­tomers calls to ask if her miss­ing ear­ring was left in the wax­ing room, the sto­ry takes a trag­ic turn, though for rea­sons more com­plex than one might assume.

Ally’s script punc­tures the all-too-com­mon per­cep­tion of nail salon employ­ees as a mono­lith­ic immi­grant mass to explore themes of dom­i­nance and bias between rep­re­sen­ta­tives of var­ied cul­tures, a point dri­ven home by the sub­ti­tles, or absence there­of.

The 2017 film also tapped into its release year zeit­geist with a plot point involv­ing the boss’ son.

On a tight sched­ule? You can still squeeze in Undis­cov­ered, direc­tor Sara Litzen­berg­er’s 3‑minute ani­ma­tion from 2014.

Iden­ti­ty fac­tors in here, too, as a Sasquatch-like crea­ture ter­ri­fies a string of cam­era wield­ing humans in its attempt to get a pho­to­graph that will show it as it wish­es to be per­ceived.

It’s an eas­i­ly digest­ed delight, suit­able for all ages.

Explore all 30+ fic­tion­al shorts in the Screen­ing Room for free here or on The New York­er’s YouTube playlist. You can find them all embed­ded and stream­able below.

Relat­ed Con­tent: 

Watch the Oscar-Win­ning Ani­mat­ed Short “Hair Love”

Watch 66 Oscar-Nom­i­nat­ed-and-Award-Win­ning Ani­mat­ed Shorts Online, Cour­tesy of the Nation­al Film Board of Cana­da

Watch 36 Short Ani­ma­tions That Tell the Ori­gin Sto­ries of Mexico’s Indige­nous Peo­ples in Their Own Lan­guages

Ayun Hal­l­i­day is the Chief Pri­ma­tol­o­gist of the East Vil­lage Inky zine and author, most recent­ly, of Cre­ative, Not Famous: The Small Pota­to Man­i­festo.  Fol­low her @AyunHalliday.

Life Magazine Predicts in 1914 How People Would Dress in the 1950s

Though still just with­in liv­ing mem­o­ry, 1950 now seems as if it belongs not just to the past but to a whol­ly bygone real­i­ty. Yet that year once stood for the future: that is to say, a time both dis­tant enough to fire up the imag­i­na­tion and near enough to instill a sense of trep­i­da­tion. It must have felt that way, at least, to the sub­scribers of Life mag­a­zine in Decem­ber of 1914, when they opened an issue of that mag­a­zine ded­i­cat­ed in part to pre­dict­ing the state of human­i­ty 36 years hence. Its bold cov­er depicts a man and woman of the 1950s amus­ed­ly regard­ing pic­tures of a man and woman in 1914: the lat­ter wear but­toned-up Euro­pean street cloth­ing, while the for­mer have on almost noth­ing at all.

As ren­dered by illus­tra­tor Otho Cush­ing, the thor­ough­ly mod­ern 1950s female wears a kind of slip, some­thing like a gar­ment from ancient Greece updat­ed by abbre­vi­a­tion. Her male coun­ter­part takes his inspi­ra­tion from an even ear­li­er stage of civ­i­liza­tion, his loin­cloth cov­er­ing as few as pos­si­ble of the abstract pat­terns paint­ed or tat­tooed all over his body. (About his choice to top it all off with a plumed hel­met, an entire PhD the­sis could sure­ly be writ­ten.)

Any cred­i­ble vision of the future must draw inspi­ra­tion from the past, and Cush­ing’s inter­ests equipped him well for the task: 28 years lat­er, his New York Times obit­u­ary would refer to his ear­ly spe­cial­iza­tion in depict­ing “hand­some young men and women in Greek or mod­ern cos­tumes.”

Even though fash­ions have yet to make a return to antiq­ui­ty, how many out­fits on the street of any major city today would scan­dal­ize the aver­age Life read­er of 1914? Of course, the cov­er is essen­tial­ly a gag, as is much of the osten­si­ble prog­nos­ti­ca­tion inside. As cir­cu­lat­ed again not long ago in a tweet thread by Andy Machals, it fore­sees mon­archs in the unem­ploy­ment line, boys’ jobs tak­en by girls, women acquir­ing harems of men, and the near-extinc­tion of mar­riage. But some pre­dic­tions, like 30 miles per hour becom­ing a slow enough dri­ving speed to be tick­etable, have come true. Anoth­er piece imag­ines peo­ple of the 1950s hir­ing musi­cians to accom­pa­ny them through­out each phase of the day. Few of us do that even in the 2020s, but liv­ing our dig­i­tal­ly sound­tracked lives, we may still won­der how our ear­ly 20th-cen­tu­ry ances­tors man­aged: “Between meals they lis­tened to almost absolute­ly noth­ing.”

via Messy Nessy

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Author Imag­ines in 1893 the Fash­ions That Would Appear Over the Next 100 Years

Fash­ion Design­ers in 1939 Pre­dict How Peo­ple Would Dress in the Year 2000

In 1900, Ladies’ Home Jour­nal Pub­lish­es 28 Pre­dic­tions for the Year 2000

How French Artists in 1899 Envi­sioned Life in the Year 2000: Draw­ing the Future

Based in Seoul, Col­in Mar­shall writes and broad­casts on cities, lan­guage, and cul­ture. His projects include the Sub­stack newslet­ter Books on Cities, the book The State­less City: a Walk through 21st-Cen­tu­ry Los Ange­les and the video series The City in Cin­e­ma. Fol­low him on Twit­ter at @colinmarshall or on Face­book.

How West Magazine Created a Southern-California Pop-Culture Aesthetic with the Help of Milton Glaser, Gahan Wilson, and Others (1967–1972)


In the late 1960s, a coun­ter­cul­ture-mind­ed media pro­fes­sion­al could sure­ly have imag­ined more appeal­ing places to work than the Los Ange­les Times. Wide­ly derid­ed as the offi­cial organ of the South­ern Cal­i­for­nia Bab­bitt, the paper also put out a bland Sun­day sup­ple­ment called West mag­a­zine. But West had the poten­tial to evolve into some­thing more vital — or so seemed to think its edi­tor, Jim Bel­lows. The cre­ator of “the orig­i­nal New York mag­a­zine in the ear­ly 1960s,” writes Design Observer’s Steven Heller, Bel­lows con­vinced a young adman named Mike Sal­is­bury, “who worked for Car­son Roberts Adver­tis­ing in L.A. (where Ed Ruscha and Ter­ry Gilliam worked), to accept the job as art direc­tor.”

Sal­is­bury inject­ed West “with such an abun­dance of pop cul­ture visu­al rich­ness that it was more like a minia­ture muse­um than week­ly gazette.” Its week­ly issues “cov­ered a wide range of themes — most­ly reflect­ing Salisbury’s insa­tiable curiosi­ties — from a fea­ture on bas­ket­ball that illus­trat­ed the tremen­dous size of cen­ter for­wards by show­ing a life-size pho­to­graph of Wilt Chamberlin’s Con­verse sneak­er, to a pic­to­r­i­al his­to­ry of movie star pin­ups with a bevy of gor­geous sil­hou­ettes fan­ning on the page, to an array of souped-up VW Bee­tles in all shapes and sizes.”

On any giv­en Sun­day, sub­scribers might find them­selves treat­ed to “the his­to­ry of Mick­ey Mouse, Coca-Cola art (the first time it was pub­lished as ‘art’), the visu­al his­to­ry of Levis, Hol­ly­wood gar­den apart­ments, Ray­mond Chan­dler loca­tions, and Kus­tom Kars.”

“I was the writer on the Coca-Cola ‘art’ piece as well as the first ‘pro­gram­mat­ic’ archi­tec­ture arti­cle to see print,” says a com­menter under the Design Observ­er ret­ro­spec­tive named Lar­ry Dietz. He also claims to have writ­ten the fea­ture on Ray­mond Chan­dler’s Los Ange­les; much lat­er, he adds, Chi­na­town screen­writer “Robert Towne said that he was inspired to learn about L.A. his­to­ry from that piece, but that the writ­ing was crap­py.” But then, the main impact of Sal­is­bury’s West was nev­er meant to be tex­tu­al. Heller quotes Sal­is­bury as say­ing that “design was not my sole objec­tive: cin­e­ma-graph­ic infor­ma­tion is a bet­ter def­i­n­i­tion.” Of all the cov­ers he designed, he remem­bers the one just above, pro­mot­ing an exposé on hero­in, as hav­ing been the most con­tro­ver­sial: “Don’t give me too much real­i­ty over Sun­day break­fast,” he heard read­ers grum­bling.

 

Oth­er mem­o­rable West cov­ers include the mag­a­zine’s trib­ute to the just-can­celed Ed Sul­li­van show in 1971, as well as con­tri­bu­tions by artists and design­ers like Vic­tor Moscoso, Gahan Wil­son, John Van Hamersveld, and Mil­ton Glaser, all fig­ures who did a great deal to craft the Amer­i­can zeit­geist of the 1960s and 70s. The mag­a­zine as a whole con­sol­i­dat­ed the South­ern Cal­i­forn­ian pop-cul­tur­al aes­thet­ic of its peri­od, as dis­tinct from what Sal­is­bury calls the “qua­si-Vic­to­ri­an” look and feel of San Fran­cis­co to the north and the “Roco­co or Baroque” New York to the east. Los Ange­les, to his mind, was “stream­line,” emblema­tized by the cul­ture and indus­try of motor­cy­cle cus­tomiza­tion and its “belief in Futur­ism.”

West was a prod­uct of the Los Ange­les Times under Otis Chan­dler, pub­lish­er from 1960 to 1980, who ded­i­cat­ed his career to expand­ing the scope and ambi­tion of the news­pa­per his great-grand­fa­ther had once run. His labors paid off in ret­ro­spect, espe­cial­ly from read­ers as astute as Joan Did­ion, who praised Chan­dler’s Times to the skies. But by 1972, West seemed to have become too much of an extrav­a­gance even for him. After the mag­a­zine’s can­cel­la­tion, Sal­is­bury moved on to Rolling Stone, then in the process of con­vert­ing from a news­pa­per to a mag­a­zine for­mat. No small part of that mag­a­zine’s pop-cul­tur­al pow­er in the 70s must have owed to his art direc­tion.

Lat­er in the decade, both Sal­is­bury and Glaser would bring their tal­ents to the just-launched New West mag­a­zine. It had no direct con­nec­tion with West or the Los Ange­les Times, but was con­ceived as the sis­ter pub­li­ca­tion of New York Mag­a­zine, which itself had been re-invent­ed by Glaser and pub­lish­er Clay Felk­er in the mid-1960s. Its debut cov­er, just above, fea­tured Glaser’s art­work; three years lat­er, in 1979, Sal­is­bury designed a cov­er on Cal­i­for­ni­a’s water cri­sis that the Amer­i­can Insti­tute of Graph­ic Arts’ Steven Brow­er calls “pre­scient.” At that same time, he notes, Sal­is­bury “worked with Fran­cis Ford Cop­po­la on the set design for Apoc­a­lypse Now; he designed Michael Jackson’s break­through album, Off the Wall,” and he even col­lab­o­rat­ed with George Har­ri­son on his epony­mous album.” But when “vet­er­an mag­a­zine art direc­tors” get togeth­er and “rem­i­nisce about the glo­ry years,” writes Heller, it’s West they inevitably talk about.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Take a Dig­i­tal Dri­ve Along Ed Ruscha’s Sun­set Boule­vard, the Famous Strip That the Artist Pho­tographed from 1965 to 2007

Mil­ton Glaser’s Styl­ish Album Cov­ers for The Band, Nina Simone, John Cage & Many More

Down­load the Com­plete Archive of Oz, “the Most Con­tro­ver­sial Mag­a­zine of the 60s,” Fea­tur­ing R. Crumb, Ger­maine Greer & More

A Com­plete Dig­i­ti­za­tion of the 1960s Mag­a­zine Avant Garde: From John Lennon’s Erot­ic Lith­o­graphs to Mar­i­lyn Monroe’s Last Pho­tos

Down­load 50+ Issues of Leg­endary West Coast Punk Music Zines from the 1970–80s: Dam­age, Slash & No Mag

Flair Mag­a­zine: The Short-Lived, High­ly-Influ­en­tial Mag­a­zine That Still Inspires Design­ers Today (1950)

Based in Seoul, Col­in Mar­shall writes and broad­casts on cities, lan­guage, and cul­ture. His projects include the Sub­stack newslet­ter Books on Cities, the book The State­less City: a Walk through 21st-Cen­tu­ry Los Ange­les and the video series The City in Cin­e­ma. Fol­low him on Twit­ter at @colinmarshall or on Face­book.

A New Yorker Cartoonist Explains How to Draw Literary Cartoons

“I enjoy pok­ing fun at any­thing edu­cat­ed peo­ple do and civ­i­lized soci­ety per­pet­u­ates that is odd, frus­trat­ing, wacky, or hyp­o­crit­i­cal,” car­toon­ist Amy Kurzweil, above, recent­ly told the New York Pub­lic Library’s Mar­go Moore.

Unsur­pris­ing­ly, she’s been get­ting pub­lished in The New York­er a lot of late.

The process for get­ting car­toons accept­ed there is the stuff of leg­end, though report­ed­ly less gru­el­ing since Emma Allen, the magazine’s youngest and first-ever female car­toon edi­tor, took over. Allen has made a point of seek­ing out fresh voic­es, and work­ing with them to help mold their sub­mis­sions into some­thing in The New York­er vein, rather than “this end­less game of pre­sent­ing work and then hear­ing ‘yes’ or ‘no.’”

Kurzweil has a fond­ness for lit­er­ary themes (and the same brand of pen­cils that John Stein­beck, Tru­man Capote, and Vladimir Nabokov pre­ferred—Black­wings—whether in her hand or, con­vers­ing with Allen on Zoom, above, in her ears.)

Get­ting the joke of a New York­er car­toon often depends on get­ting the ref­er­ence, and while both women seem tick­led at the first exam­ple, Kurzweil’s mash-up of Proust’s Remem­brance of Things Past and the pic­ture book If You Give a Mouse a Cook­ie, it may go over many read­ers’ heads.

The thing that holds it all togeth­er?

Madeleines, of course, though out­side France, not every Proust lover is able to iden­ti­fy an inked rep­re­sen­ta­tion of this evoca­tive cook­ie by shape.

Kurzweil states that she has nev­er actu­al­ly read the children’s book that sup­plies half the con­text.

(It’s okay. Like the idea that mem­o­ries can be trig­gered by cer­tain nos­tal­gic scents, its con­cept is pret­ty easy to grasp.)

Nor has she read philoso­pher Derek Parfit’s whop­ping 1,928-page On What Mat­ters. Her inspi­ra­tion for using it in a car­toon is her per­son­al con­nec­tion to the mas­sive, unread three-vol­ume set in her family’s library. Because both the size and the title are part of the joke, she directs the viewer’s eye to the unwieldy tome with a light water­col­or wash.

She also has a good tip for any­one draw­ing a library scene—go fig­u­ra­tive, rather than lit­er­al, vary­ing sizes and shapes until the eye is tricked into see­ing what is mere­ly sug­gest­ed.

A all-too-true lit­er­ary expe­ri­ence informs her sec­ond exam­ple at the 4:30 mark—that of a lit­tle known author giv­ing a read­ing in a book­store. Despite a pref­er­ence for draw­ing “fleshy things like peo­ple and ani­mals” she for­goes depict­ing the author or those in atten­dance, giv­ing the punch­line instead to the event posters in the store’s win­dow.

As she told the NYPL’s Moore:

A car­toon is always an oppor­tu­ni­ty to show­case a con­tem­po­rary phe­nom­e­non by exag­ger­at­ing it or plac­ing it in a dif­fer­ent con­text.

Over the last year, a huge num­ber of New York­er car­toons have con­cerned them­selves with the domes­tic dull­ness of the pan­dem­ic, but when Allen asked if she has a favorite New York­er car­toon cliché, Kurzweil went with “the Moby Dick trope, because whales are easy to draw, and I like a good metaphor for the unat­tain­able.”

Relat­ed Con­tent:

New York­er Car­toon Edi­tor Bob Mankoff Reveals the Secret of a Suc­cess­ful New York­er Car­toon

The Not York­er: A Col­lec­tion of Reject­ed & Late Cov­er Sub­mis­sions to The New York­er

Down­load a Com­plete, Cov­er-to-Cov­er Par­o­dy of The New York­er: 80 Pages of Fine Satire

Ayun Hal­l­i­day is an author, illus­tra­tor, the­ater mak­er and Chief Pri­ma­tol­o­gist of the East Vil­lage Inky zine. She most recent­ly appeared as a French Cana­di­an bear who trav­els to New York City in search of food and mean­ing in Greg Kotis’ short film, L’Ourse.  Fol­low her @AyunHalliday.

The History of American Newspapers Has Been Digitized: Explore 114 Years of Editor & Publisher, “the Bible of the Newspaper Industry”

If you look into the his­to­ry of the Amer­i­can news­pa­per, you can’t get too deep before your inevitable encounter with Edi­tor & Pub­lish­er. Brand­ed as “the bible of the news­pa­per indus­try,” the trade mag­a­zine has for 120 years cov­ered its sub­ject from every pos­si­ble angle. Though news­pa­pers had already been pub­lished in the Unit­ed States for near­ly 200 years before the mag­a­zine’s found­ing, its run has been coeval with an espe­cial­ly fas­ci­nat­ing, even dra­mat­ic peri­od in their his­to­ry. It was in the 20th cen­tu­ry that Amer­i­can news­pa­pers con­sol­i­dat­ed into the pil­lars of what looked, for a time, like a mighty “fourth estate”; in this cen­tu­ry, they’ve plunged into what Edi­tor & Pub­lish­er’s own­er Mike Blind­er terms “such a cri­sis.”

Still, since pur­chas­ing the mag­a­zine last year, writes Inter­net Archive Col­lec­tions Man­ag­er Mari­na Lewis, “Blind­er and his wife, Robin, have been able to turn the oper­a­tion around, dou­bling its rev­enues and tripling its audi­ence.” He also gave the Inter­net Archive per­mis­sion to upload and make avail­able 114 years of Edi­tor & Pub­lish­er issues online for free.

“Going beyond the Inter­net Archive’s tra­di­tion­al lend­ing sys­tem ensures it can be indexed by search engines and made max­i­mal­ly use­ful to read­ers and researchers,” writes Lewis. “The abil­i­ty to research these archived issues has been tru­ly excit­ing, espe­cial­ly for those look­ing up his­tor­i­cal doc­u­ments, many with a per­son­al or fam­i­ly con­nec­tion.”

As the Nie­man Jour­nal­ism Lab’s Joshua Ben­don remem­bers itEdi­tor & Pub­lish­er was once “the best (and often only) place to find out about job open­ings at news­pa­pers.”  With more than a cen­tu­ry of its back issues freely avail­able at the Inter­net Archive, “if you’re at all inter­est­ed in the 20th-cen­tu­ry his­to­ry of the Amer­i­can news­pa­per busi­ness, you now have access to a robust new resource.” In the archive he finds doc­u­men­ta­tion of “some of the century’s most inter­est­ing moments,” at least as far as that busi­ness is con­cerned: The New York­er’s 1946 pub­li­ca­tion of John Hersey’s “Hiroshi­ma,” which it sub­se­quent­ly offered to con­ven­tion­al news­pa­pers (“The piece runs about 30,000 words and no cut­ting or con­dens­ing is to be per­mit­ted”); the 1965 hir­ing of Ben Bradlee by The Wash­ing­ton Post; the 1971 debut of Doones­bury in nation­al news­pa­pers.

Not all of these reflect well on the U.S. news­pa­per indus­try. Ben­ton high­lights the 1981 expo­sure of “Jim­my’s World,” a Pulitzer-win­ning Post sto­ry about an eight-year-old hero­in addict, as a fab­ri­ca­tion — or a piece of “fake news,” as we might say today. That arti­cle also quotes a Boston Globe edi­tor as say­ing “the pub­lic faith in the press is min­i­mal at the moment,” a sen­ti­ment not unheard these 40 years lat­er. The mag­a­zine was also quick to observe the emer­gence of oth­er forms of media (such as a 1925 test of French inven­tor Édouard Belin’s exper­i­men­tal “tele­vi­sion”) that would lat­er force change upon the news­pa­per indus­try’s very nature. And if the cur­rent cri­sis is, as some argue, not destroy­ing the fourth estate but return­ing it to its roots, there could be few bet­ter paths back to an under­stand­ing of those roots than through the Edi­tor & Pub­lish­er archive.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Techie Work­ing at Home Cre­ates Big­ger Archive of His­tor­i­cal News­pa­pers (37 Mil­lion Pages) Than the Library of Con­gress

Enter “The Mag­a­zine Rack,” the Inter­net Archive’s Col­lec­tion of 34,000 Dig­i­tized Mag­a­zines

The End of an Era: A Short Film About The Last Day of Hot Met­al Type­set­ting at The New York Times (1978)

A Big Dig­i­tal Archive of Inde­pen­dent & Alter­na­tive Pub­li­ca­tions: Browse/Download Rad­i­cal Peri­od­i­cals Print­ed from 1951 to 2016

From the Annals of Opti­mism: The News­pa­per Indus­try in 1981 Imag­ines its Dig­i­tal Future

Based in Seoul, Col­in Mar­shall writes and broad­casts on cities, lan­guage, and cul­ture. His projects include the Sub­stack newslet­ter Books on Cities, the book The State­less City: a Walk through 21st-Cen­tu­ry Los Ange­les and the video series The City in Cin­e­ma. Fol­low him on Twit­ter at @colinmarshall or on Face­book.

All 80 Issues of the Influential Zine Punk Planet Are Now Online & Ready for Download at the Internet Archive

Punk did­n’t die, it evolved, since its incep­tion in the 70s to the ethos of major­ly influ­en­tial fig­ures like Kath­leen Han­na and Ian MacK­aye in the 90s, two of the most promi­nent faces of pro­gres­sive DIY punk in the U.S. Then, as before, scenes came togeth­er around zines, sites of cul­tur­al recog­ni­tion, dis­sem­i­na­tion, and record­ing for pos­ter­i­ty in the archives of phys­i­cal print. One zine crit­i­cal to the social­ly con­scious punk that emerged at the time, Punk Plan­et, has recent­ly been dig­i­tized in all 80 issues by the Inter­net Archive.

Based in Chica­go and found­ed by edi­tor Dan Sinker (whom you may know from his pres­ence on Twit­ter), Punk Plan­et ran from 1994 to 2007, focus­ing “most of its ener­gy on look­ing at punk sub­cul­ture,” the Inter­net Archive writes, “rather than punk as sim­ply anoth­er genre of music to which teenagers lis­ten. In addi­tion to cov­er­ing music, Punk Plan­et also cov­ered visu­al arts and a wide vari­ety of pro­gres­sive issues—including media crit­i­cism, fem­i­nism, and labor issues.”

Punk Plan­et “tran­scend­ed stereo­types to chron­i­cle the pro­gres­sive under­ground com­mu­ni­ty, from thought­ful band inter­views to excep­tion­al­ly thor­ough inves­tiga­tive fea­tures,” wrote the A.V. Club’s Kyle Ryan in an inter­view with Sinker the year of the magazine’s demise.

“Over the course of 13 years, Punk Plan­et became heav­i­ly influ­en­tial beyond the increas­ing­ly small world of inde­pen­dent pub­lish­ing.” Arguably, that influ­ence can be felt in online mag­a­zines like Rook­ie as well as music-focused stal­warts like Pitch­fork, who note that Punk Plan­et’s “issues includ­ed inter­views with Sleater-Kin­ney, Nick Cave, Ralph Nad­er, and count­less oth­er cul­tur­al icons.”

The mag­a­zine fold­ed for the usu­al rea­sons, as Utne not­ed in a farewell, leav­ing a “gap­ing hole in the land­scape of inde­pen­dent mag­a­zines…. The deck was stacked against Punk Plan­et, though, and the hard knocks of inde­pen­dent pub­lish­ing final­ly became too much to bear.” Sinker says he saw the end as part of a big­ger pic­ture and “start­ed look­ing at the larg­er issues that were also affect­ing us. Things like, ‘Hey, wow, record labels are going under because no one is pay­ing for music!’ And, ‘Hey, look at this, peo­ple are going to these Inter­net sites because peo­ple can pick up a record review the same day the record came out!’”

It’s a moot point now—2020 has not made it any eas­i­er for small pub­li­ca­tions and inde­pen­dent musi­cians to sur­vive. But the con­tin­ued exis­tence of Punk Plan­et online for new gen­er­a­tions to dis­cov­er promis­es to fos­ter the con­ti­nu­ity that car­ried the spir­it of punk rock through decades of evo­lu­tion­ary change. Enter the Punk Plan­et archive here.

Relat­ed Con­tent: 

Down­load 834 Rad­i­cal Zines From a Rev­o­lu­tion­ary Online Archive: Glob­al­iza­tion, Punk Music, the Indus­tri­al Prison Com­plex & More

Down­load 50+ Issues of Leg­endary West Coast Punk Music Zines from the 1970–80s: Dam­age, Slash & No Mag

Judy!: 1993 Judith But­ler Fanzine Gives Us An Irrev­er­ent Punk-Rock Take on the Post-Struc­tural­ist Gen­der The­o­rist

Josh Jones is a writer and musi­cian based in Durham, NC. Fol­low him at @jdmagness

Flair Magazine: The Short-Lived, Highly-Influential Magazine That Still Inspires Designers Today (1950)

All mag­a­zines are their edi­tors, but Flair was more its edi­tor than any mag­a­zine had been before — or, for that mat­ter, than any mag­a­zine has been since. Though she came to the end of her long life in Eng­land, a coun­try to which she had expa­tri­at­ed with her fourth hus­band, a Briton, Fleur Cowles was as Amer­i­can a cul­tur­al fig­ure as they come. Born Flo­rence Frei­d­man in 1908, she had per­formed on her­self an unknow­able num­ber of Gats­byesque acts of rein­ven­tion by 1950, when she found her­self in a posi­tion to launch Flair. Her taste in hus­bands helped, mar­ried as she then was to Gard­ner “Mike” Cowles Jr., pub­lish­er of Look, a pop­u­lar pho­to jour­nal that Fleur had helped to lift from its low­brow ori­gins and make respectable among that all-pow­er­ful con­sumer demo­graph­ic, post­war Amer­i­can women.

The suc­cess of the rein­vent­ed Look “allowed Cowles to ask her hus­band for what she real­ly want­ed: the cap­i­tal to start her own pub­li­ca­tion, which she called ‘a class mag­a­zine,’ ” writes Eye on Design’s Rachel Syme. “She was tired of spreads about the best linoleum; she want­ed to do an entire issue on Paris, or hire Ernest Hem­ing­way to write a trav­el essay, or com­mis­sion Colette to gos­sip about her love affairs.”

Dur­ing Flair’s run she did all that and more, with a ros­ter of con­trib­u­tors also includ­ing Sal­vador Dalí, Simone de Beau­voir, W. H. Auden, Glo­ria Swan­son, Win­ston Churchill, Eleanor Roo­sevelt, and Jean Cocteau. In Flair’s debut issue, pub­lished in Feb­ru­ary 1950, “an arti­cle on the 28-year-old Lucian Freud came lib­er­al­ly accom­pa­nied with repro­duc­tions of his art—the first ever to appear in Amer­i­ca.”

So writes Van­i­ty Fair’s Amy Fine Collins in a pro­file of Clowes. “Angus Wil­son and Ten­nessee Williams con­tributed short sto­ries, Wilson’s print­ed on paper tex­tured to resem­ble slubbed silk.” What’s more, “The Duke and Duchess of Wind­sor opened their home to Flair’s read­ers, treat­ing them to their recon­dite and enter­tain­ing tips. A more futur­is­tic approach to liv­ing was set forth in a two-page spread on Richard Kelly’s light­ing design for Philip Johnson’s glass house in Con­necti­cut.” Fea­ture though it may have the work of an aston­ish­ing­ly var­ied group of lumi­nar­ies — pulled in by Cowles’ vast and delib­er­ate­ly woven social net — Flair is even more respect­ed today for each issue’s lav­ish, elab­o­rate, and dis­tinc­tive design.

“If a fea­ture would be bet­ter in dimen­sion than on flat pages, why not fold half-pages inside dou­ble-page spreads?” asks Cowles in her mem­oirs, quot­ed in Print mag­a­zine. “Why not bind it as ‘a lit­tle book’ … giv­ing it a spe­cial focus? If a fea­ture was bet­ter ‘trans­lat­ed’ on tex­tured paper, why use shiny paper?” And “if a paint­ing was good enough to frame, why not print it on prop­er­ly heavy stock? Why not bind lit­tle accor­dion fold­ers into each issue to give the feel­ing of some­thing more per­son­al to the con­tent?” One rea­son is the $2.5 mil­lion (1950 dol­lars) that Mike Cowles esti­mat­ed Flair to have cost in the year it ran before he pulled its plug.

But then, by the ear­ly 1970s even the high­ly prof­itable Look had to fold — and of the two mag­a­zines, only one has become ever more sought-after, has books pub­lished in its trib­ute, and still inspires design­ers today. To take a clos­er look at the mag­a­zine, see The Best of Flaira  com­pi­la­tion of the magazine’s best con­tent as cho­sen by Fleur Cowles her­self. (See a video pre­view of the book above.)

Relat­ed Con­tent:

A Com­plete Dig­i­ti­za­tion of the 1960s Mag­a­zine Avant Garde: From John Lennon’s Erot­ic Lith­o­graphs to Mar­i­lyn Monroe’s Last Pho­tos

How Mag­a­zine Pages Were Cre­at­ed Before Com­put­ers: A Vet­er­an of the Lon­don Review of Books Demon­strates the Metic­u­lous, Man­u­al Process

A Com­plete Dig­i­ti­za­tion of Eros Mag­a­zine: The Con­tro­ver­sial 1960s Mag­a­zine on the Sex­u­al Rev­o­lu­tion

The Provoca­tive Art of Mod­ern Sketch, the Mag­a­zine That Cap­tured the Cul­tur­al Explo­sion of 1930s Shang­hai

Vogue Edi­tor-in-Chief Anna Win­tour Teach­es a Course on Cre­ativ­i­ty & Lead­er­ship

Based in Seoul, Col­in Mar­shall writes and broad­casts on cities, lan­guage, and cul­ture. His projects include the Sub­stack newslet­ter Books on Cities, the book The State­less City: a Walk through 21st-Cen­tu­ry Los Ange­les and the video series The City in Cin­e­ma. Fol­low him on Twit­ter at @colinmarshall, on Face­book, or on Insta­gram.

« Go BackMore in this category... »
Quantcast
Open Culture was founded by Dan Colman.