Observe The Travel Almanac selling out, and Kindling Quarterly, described as an “exploration of fatherhood through essays, interviews, editorials, art, and photography,” getting written up by The New York Timesas examples of this crop of sleek new magazines aimed at niche readerships. David Michael Perez, one of Kindling Quarterly’s founders, told the Times that he believes his magazine (which retails at $14 an issue) is a good business model that he and his business partner, August Heffner, jumpstarted using personal funds. There’s the Canadian menswear magazine Inventory, which retails for $20 in the States, and Babes Quarterly is billed as “a modernized version of the classic 1950’s and 60’s pocket men’s magazine” that is “designed to a creative, babe loving guy in all of us.” These magazines are also thinking of new ways to promote their product, and also new ways of doing business overall. The Portland magazineKinfolk explicitly states on its website that it is a “collectable print magazine” aimed at growing a “readership of young artists and food enthusiasts by focusing on simple ways to spend time together.” The Chicagoan, a Jazz Age Windy City magazine that was relaunched in 2012 by Stop Smiling publisher J.C. Gabel, says it has “embraced the vintage newsstand as a metaphor to bolster our message of substance and style” by setting up pop-up newsstands throughout the Chicagoland area meant to function “much like food trucks.” The Toronto fashion journal Worn comes out biannually, with a stated mission “[t]o show a wide range of beauty, one that includes diversity of culture, subculture, gender identification, sexuality, size, race, ability, and age,” as well as “To answer, always and above all, to our readers and not our advertisers.”
With the National Book Critics Circle Awards coming up next week, we’re curious: which novel gets your vote? Take our Facebook Poll to see if your pick beats the competition (in our highly, highly unscientific study).
Q. What do you think of President Obama’s digital efforts?
Gavin Newsom: He raised the bar. What president did in his first day in office with open government. That executive order reads as so idealistic. It is just like Mark Zuckerberg’s IPO letter, in terms of what can be. Obama did incredible things in the first few years with openness, data sets, and transparency. Unfortunately we didn’t see follow through. The momentum waned. That is some of the frustration with the drone issue of secrecy and memos that were not made public and the lack congressional oversight. It is not an indictment, but I’m hoping we can resuscitate and revitalize it.
Q. Is it possible to bring that back?
Gavin Newsom: The revitalization is starting with cities. A lot of mayors took up the baton because of the external pressure. Organizations and groups educated us. People like Tim O’Reilly [the open source advocate] are saying we have to pick it up at the local level and people like [Code for America’s] Jennifer Pahlka are placing talent in departments all across the country.
Q. A government app isn’t going to exactly be cool. Will people actual use it?
Gavin Newsom: We are virtually farming and spending billions of dollars on virtual goods. A few years ago, no one would say that you could make people do that. In Manor, Texas they’ve created a virtual point system with Innobucks and are recognizing how to translate them into offline real life benefits. If we can make it fun and use civic currency and develop civic software, we can take the lessons from these brilliant geniuses who are advancing gaming, and apply it to democracy.
Indeed, some cracking its spine for the first time — as more than one commentator on the 50th anniversary has sheepishly confessed to doing — may be surprised at just how scholarly the book is. Friedan, who claimed she gave up a prestigious Ph.D. fellowship in psychology after a boyfriend said it would threaten their relationship, spent years in the New York Public Library, digging as deeply into the theories of Freud, Margaret Mead, A. H. Maslow and David Riesman as into the women’s magazines she blasted for perpetuating the mythology of the “happy housewife.”
Today that immersion in midcentury social science may make the book feel dated and more of a symbolic totem than a direct inspiration to current feminists. But to historians “The Feminine Mystique” remains a rich keyhole into the popular culture of the 1950s — even if, as scholars increasingly argue, that decade was far less monolithic in its stultifying conformism than Friedan’s best seller suggested. In an influential 1993 paper on postwar popular culture, the historian Joanne Meyerowitz argued that mass-circulation magazines of the 1950s frequently profiled women with careers, although the articles emphasized the importance of maintaining a traditional feminine identity.
More recently, other scholars have pointed out that readers encountering “The Feminine Mystique” through the excerpts that appeared in women’s magazines might not have heard an entirely empowering message. In “Mom: The Transformation of Motherhood in Modern America” (2010), the historian Rebecca Jo Plant argued that to many readers, the book seemed less like a progressive rallying cry than a continuation of the housewife-bashing of books like Philip Wylie’s 1942 best seller, “Generation of Vipers,” which blamed over-involved mothers for all manner of social ills.
For all she got right, Ms. Plant wrote, “Friedan missed — indeed, she contributed to — the frustrations many women felt due to a cultural climate that constantly denigrated mothers and homemakers.”
Still, few historians quarrel with the idea that the book galvanized women, including some who would hardly seem like natural political allies of a writer who (as the historian Daniel Horowitz revealed in his 1998 biography, to Friedan’s displeasure) cut her teeth as a reporter for radical newspapers and had a file with the F.B.I.
LAUREN WEITZMAN, 50, talks with her husband, STUART DRESCHER, 61
Lauren Weitzman: I was thirty-five years old and living in Richmond, Virginia. There wasn’t anyone significant in my life, and somehow a lifelong partner didn’t seem to be in the cards for me; I was coming to peace with that. Then I bumped into an old friend at a conference. I started talking with him, but somebody else was standing there.
Stuart Drescher: I don’t think that you looked at me once during the whole conversation, but I was fascinated by you. And when you walked away, I said, “I have to meet her.”
Our friend said, “She usually goes to the social hours at the end of the afternoon presentations,” which I never participated in, but I showed up. And there I was, talking to you for the first time. There was this fascination with you that was almost magnetic. It felt like we’d known each other for a very, very long time.
Lauren: I was a bit dismayed to realize that you were living in Salt Lake City. There was the excitement of just feeling really close and connected, but then we had to go our separate ways. And so we began this long-distance thing: I was in Richmond, Virginia, you were in Salt Lake City, and our airline carrier was Delta. So we’d either fly through Cincinnati or we’d fly through Atlanta. Somebody—I think it was me, you think it was you—decided that since we’re traveling through these airports, Wouldn’t it be fun to leave notes for each other that the person could find on their next way across?
Stuart: We’d write a bit of poetry or some form of appreciation, or just a thought. Then we would fold them up and tuck them under a chair in the loading areas and send a map to the other person with the concourse and the gate area, and X marks the spot.
Lauren: Although we’d only known each other for a few months at this point, it didn’t seem right to spend Thanksgiving apart. It was a wonderful holiday, and when I flew home I knew I wanted to leave you something. So as I was heading from Salt Lake to Cincinnati, the only thing I could think to put on the note was “Will you marry me?”
I wasn’t ready to tell you about the note, but I was definitely ready to write it. It was probably the longest I ever sat with a decision. [Laughs.] But you’re a patient man, and in March I finally gave you a map to find the note.
Stuart: I flew to Cincinnati, and my plane was delayed in landing. I found myself running down the concourse, hoping to get to the next plane in time. I wasrunning at a pretty good clip, and all of a sudden I remembered the note. I was debating, Should I stop and risk my connection? But I had to see if I could grab that note. So I peeled into the gate area and identified which chair it was. There was a fellow sitting there, wearing a very expensive suit, and I walked over and said, “Excuse me, I think I dropped my pen when I was sitting here previously,” and I reached under the seat. I grabbed the note, took off running down the hallway, and got to the gate just before the door swung shut.
Lauren: Back in Richmond, I was thinking: Would you find the note? What were you going to think when you got it? I ducked out of a faculty meeting early and drove out to the Richmond airport. I had a big bunch of flowers, and I felt just like a bride waiting for her groom.
I still remember you walking off the plane, and the minute I saw you I knew you had found the note. You just had that glow. I had the bouquet of flowers, and we gave each other a big hug, and you said, “Yes!”
Recorded in Salt Lake City, Utah, on April 19, 2009.
New York Times statistician Nate Silver told an audience at Washington University this week that he might stop writing his influential FiveThirtyEight blog were it to start influencing election results.
“The polls can certainly affect elections at times,” Silver told the audience, according to a report in Student Life, an independent campus newspaper. “I hope people don’t take the forecasts too seriously. You’d rather have an experiment where you record it off from the actual voters, in a sense, but we’ll see. If it gets really weird in 2014, in 2016, then maybe I’ll stop doing it. I don’t want to influence the democratic process in a negative way.”
Silver said he wanted to make people “more informed, I don’t want to affect their motive because they trust the forecasters.”