Sunday, July 17, 2005

My old radio

Back in the Mesozoic Age, when I was in sixth grade, I started having trouble sleeping. It would seem that all the sounds I’d heard throughout the day would start coming back to me, playing in my head over and over throughout the night.It was maddening.

After a couple of nights like this, I did the logical thing: I asked my mom. She decided it was time to give me my first radio. It wasn’t new, but it was better than new. It was a Toshiba, late 70’s model, back when listening to the radio was still cool, before people had cassette tapes and 8-tracks. It was solid black, and it had dials and knobs up the wazoo. Beside the usual volume, tuning and bass/trebble controls, it could pick up AM, FM, and about seven different frequencies I had never heard of. I loved how the dial lit up in green hues. And here was an interesting feature: it had a timer. You could turn on the radio and set up the timer to shut it down anywhere from 5 to 60 minutes. Conversely, if you set up the timer with the radio off, it would turn it on when the time ran out.

Right now, I can’t fathom the logic that was behind my mom’s solution, but she was right. I don’t remember ever having trouble sleeping anymore. But I remember a couple of sleepless nights toying with the knobs on that cool radio of mine.

Saturday, July 16, 2005

The Cheat Sheet

Just now, as I was cleaning up my Mac, I came across a really old Word file. As I started reading it, memories flushed to my mind.

The year was 2000. I was young and single. I was meeting new people all the time, so I decided to start a file on the girls I was seeing.

Fast-forward to the present. I can’t place most of the girls on the list. And the one I can remember, I’d rather forget. But what is rather amusing about the file is the shallow little comments beside every entry: “Eats a lot”, “Loves the X-Men”, “Talks with a Mexican accent”. My favorite: “Her last boyfriend cheated on her and she is still willing to go back with him. Definitely not very bright”.

Wonder what they had to say about me.

Saturday, July 09, 2005

Good Ol' Details

For a while now, I've been an off-again, on-again reader of Details magazine. I first approached the magazine during Mark Golin's 1999-2000 tenure as editor. His previous job had been at the helm of another famous male publication: Maxim.


If you’ve never seen Maxim, basically it’s a male-oriented, babe-infested, macho-fest of a magazine. Booze, women, cars: that’s the core of the Maxim creed. Think of it as testosterone turned into a glossy periodical. But also, there’s the humor: wacky, void of any respect whatsoever. They make fun of Bush, the Pope, anybody. Even the captions on the photos are funny. Whenever I feel my IQ is soaring excessively high, I run to the newsstand for a copy of Maxim and balance my system with the dose of macho it sorely needs. It’s dumb, brainless fun: I totally love it!

However, my love of Maxim doesn’t extend to the Latin American version of the magazine, which is published in Mexico, like most of the mags we get in Kzanderallia. Their attempts to try to replicate the essence of US Maxim are depressing. Despite reusing a lot of material from the American edition, it still comes off as cheap, vulgar and crude publication that ultimately seems to be written by a bunch of monkeys with typewriters. Overpaid monkeys.

Mark Golin’s Details

Back then, Golin tried to apply the same formula that had served him so well at Maxim, toning it down a little bit. Not as many scantily-clad women, not so much booze. The funny photo captions did cross over, which I remember were a hook for me. Also, he put babes on the covers. (That was a bit confusing. Many people approaching the magazine for the first time –me included- thought it was a ladies’ mag) The magazine still looked after the metrosexual male of the new millenium with lots of fashion spreads and features on quirky (and pricey) accessories for the man who had it all. The writing was fast-paced, always interesting. They took a lot of risks. The design was fresh and exciting. The comedy was very sofisticated, and you had to be in-the-know to get all the jokes, which wasn’t easy.

This is where nostalgia kicks in. This was 2000. Before 9/11, before the digital bubble burst. Lots of people were making money off stocks and thought “Bin Laden” was some sort of new trendy spa. New Yorkers were cocky and loaded with cash, and wrote that way.

My first time

I had never seen a magazine quite like Details, and loved it right away. I vividly remember the place I bought my first Details at: a drugstore that isn’t around anymore. It was one of the few places carrying American magazines. I remember they only had the February issue, so I had to go to a warehouse downtown to get the January issue. Then I kept on buying Details monthly.

Unfortunately for me, I learned of Details about half into Golin’s run, from Jan to May 2000. But I will cherish those five issues forever.

Current Details

However, my affection for this flavor of Details was not shared by many. This period is considered by many as a lowpoint of the magazine. Long-time readers hated this Maxim clone, and wanted their old magazine back. Golin was fired and the next creative team sobered up the magazine dramatically. It even changed the size, making each page bigger. Gone were the ladies on the covers, the fratboy humor. The fashion stayed. Most of the writing staff didn’t.


Well, it wasn’t easy to realize that my beloved magazine was gone forever. I purchased the new Details, but didn’t really like it at first. I missed the wackiness, the easygoing spirit. Then the stock market crashed. The attacks happened. The era was over.

I haven’t really found any magazine like my old Details. There’s a few traces left of it in Maxim but the more brainy Details has managed to grow on me. Its writing style reminds me of GQ, which is another magazine I really like. But that’s a whole ‘nother story.