Why am I just now learning that eBay is the way to go for criminally inexpensive magazine subscriptions? In the last week, I've single-handedly increased the circulation statistics for five weekly and/or monthly reads:
ESPN - The Magazine: As far as sports magazines go, this one really isn't worth the recycled Sunday Circuit City insert ads it's printed on. The layout is cluttered, the photography is often grainy and the "writing" is comprised of half-assed concept columns like "Stu Scott's Two-Way" (rigged reader questions joined with Stu's one-eyed insight) and "Dan Patrick's Outtakes" (inane, innocuous interviews with random athletes). So, why am I now a subscriber for the next four years? First off, I paid all of $8.95 for the full 48 months, which comes out less than a dime per issue. Secondly, and infinitely more importantly, subscribers get access to ESPN Insider for free. Peter Gammons, Rob Neyer and that creepy little guy who fancies himself as the "fantasy expert"…? My lonely, late-at-nite net time just got a lot less porny.
Entertainment Weekly: One of the many, many things I do that drives Mrs. Bootleg up the wall (but, sadly, never out of my house or out of my life) is my predictable weekly perusal of good ol' EW…in the supermarket checkout line. I never buy it, since all the best parts are regurgitated right here and really…how many ambiguous analyses of Lost can one man stomach? And, as anyone who's read EW can tell you, the writing is targeted towards those sanctimonious twentysomethings who just stopped squealing for Teen People. $20 for two years? Sold. Perhaps Us Weekly can meet me in front of Aisle #6.
Maxim: True story. Sad story. I actually had to prepare Mrs. Bootleg for the impending arrival of the seminal men's magazine (non-nude division) in our mailbox: "Now, you're going to be seeing scantily-clad celebrities on the cover with what the kids call 'symmetrical cleavage'. Don't be afraid! These are women who've just gone untainted by childbirth and breast pumps." I'm genuinely unsure if men in their early 30s even need tips on how to remove a hickey (wink), but now I can be certain that I won't miss their once-every-twenty-months spotlight on "the colored celebrities"! September 2008 can't get here soon enough, Dihann Carroll!
The Source: Yeah, yeah, yeah…but, at least it's not their insecure younger sister/single mother, XXL. Hip Hop culture and I are no longer inseparable, but it's still my music of choice, even if some of today's audio lost me years ago. The writing, umm…"isn't awful", shall we say, even if the blatant liberal bent is worse than a thousand CNNs. Truth be told, by the time The Source hits the newsstands, it's instantly 45-60 days out-of-date. Then again, it's not like there's any place else to read what's on Kanye's mind or whether or not Nas is conflicted or just a hypocrite. I'm not sure why married fathers should care about these things, but we do.
XXL: Wow…backed myself into a corner on this one. Well, it was only $6.95 for 12 issues, so there's that. The writing is better than The Source which, admittedly, isn't saying much, but they're a lot less likely to give at least 3 ½ mics to f'n every album ever released. One of my favorite things about XXL is that they'll do "themes" from time to time, like their nearly cover-to-cover looks at Tupac death, Biggie's legacy, the West Coast rap renaissance (cough), etc. Plus, they're infamously in bed with Interscope Records, so if anyone's gonna get the exclusive interviews with notoriously media-shy entities like, oh say, Eminem or 50 Cent, it'll be here.