Tuesday, April 14, 2009

An Ode to Blender Magazine (RIP)


I've been a magazine junkie as long as I remember. Growing up, music magazines were my drug of choice. I read them all - Metal Edge, Circus, Hit Parade... anything that involved a long haired, pop-metal band and I was putting my allowance on the counter without hesitation. I would sit in my room and devour them cover to cover. As I got older my musical tastes matured (OK, just a little - I still listen to a lot of Poison and Bon Jovi) and I started reading Rolling Stone. It was the perfect transition into adulthood, as it covered popular music and the liberal politics that were informing my thinking.

My politics haven't changed much over the years, but my interest in Rolling Stone has. These days I tend to read more of O The Oprah Magazine and Chatelaine than music magazines. My Entertainment Weekly addiction gives me a good overview of what's happening in that world and, as I've transitioned out of working in music I have grown less and less interested in the day to day happenings of my favourite bands. Besides which, these days I get most of that on the internet anyway.

So when Blender Magazine announced that it was no longer publishing, why was I so sad to hear the news? Well, while I will fully admit to not having picked up the last few issues, Blender has been my music mag of choice for awhile. I liked Blender. It was funny, snarky and hip, without sounding like it was being written by and for the few thousand music snobs who work at indie record stores and debate the merits of each Mission of Burma CD. Blender would have Nikki Sixx and Lil Wayne in an issue alongside U2 and Katie Perry. They wrote about whoever was interesting at the moment and they wrote about them well. They walked the line between celebrity tabloid and music criticism and they did it well. Every issue I would laugh out loud, learn about the latest releases and discover that despite myself I was actually enjoying articles on everyone from Fergie to Fountains of Wayne.

Maybe it's because Blender was the perfect magazine for someone like me that things didn't work out. I'm not hip enough to know or care about the latest, hottest thing in the underground. I don't buy Beyonce albums, but I don't mind that you do. And I'll enjoy reading about her in the same way I'll enjoy reading about Kelly Clarkson or Britney Spears or whomever has a song on the radio right now that's getting lots of spins. I own more Kid Rock than Flaming Lips CDs and I'm happy to read about who Kid is dating, hating or imitating. And I loved that Blender would include country reviews, as well as the occasional article (even if it was almost always with a Taylor Swift or Carrie Underwood - hey, they give good pictorial, what are you gonna do?). I can't imagine there are a lot of readers like me. People who like a little bit of a lot and who look at good writing as a stronger criteria for reading a magazine then whether or not The Jonas Brothers are in it are probably not bringing in strong enough numbers to keep any mag afloat these days.

So I'm saying my goodbyes to Blender and wondering if I'll find a new music magazine of choice now. I'm doubtful, but you never know... There's always Country Weekly or Teen Beat, right?

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

The Tao of Dolly

I have to preface this post with an embarrassing admission: I tend to take song lyrics to heart. I'm one of those people that spent my teen years scribbling Motley Crue and TPOH lyrics in my notebooks at school and listening to tortured love songs by candlelight in my bedroom. And while I have a soft spot for a well-written turn of phrase, I am an equally huge sucker for a change-your-life, pump-your-fist anthem to live by. So when I read over this post and realized how cheesy and uncool it is to admit what I'm about to admit, I decided you might just need some history.

There’s something irrepressible about Dolly Parton: The sparkly fashions, the tiny waist and that sweet, southern charm that makes each spicy one-liner go down like poetry. Dolly is one of a kind and I adore her.

I’ve only had the chance to meet her once, but I think I’ve loved Dolly since she first sashayed across my T.V. screen as a child. She’s a larger than life Barbie doll with a heart far bigger than one would suspect could fit into that tiny little frame. Her Imagination Library literacy program has allowed the world to see just how dedicated she is to making a difference for children around the world – and for the adults they will become. I can only hope to make one tenth of that kind of impact in my lifetime.

And it’s with this big heartedness in mind that I’ve decided to try a little harder to live by the Tao of Dolly. I was listening to her song “Better Get to Livin,” on the Backwoods Barbie CD and it struck me that Ms. Dolly could have been talking right to me.

“A girlfriend came to my house
Started cryin' on my shoulder Sunday evening
She was spinnin' such a sad tale
I could not believe the yarn that she was weavin'
So negative the words she had to say
I said if I had a violin I'd play.

I said you'd better get to livin', givin'
Be willing and forgivin'
Cause all healing has to start with you
You better stop whining, pining
Get your dreams in line
And then just shine, design, refine
Until they come true
And you better get to livin'.

Sure, it’s not a new sentiment by any stretch but it made me realize how important it is to just live. Especially during a month like March when all I wanted to do is curl up in bed with the covers over my head until someone shook me awake in April. As Dolly so eloquently puts it, “The day we’re born we start to die. Don’t waste one minute of this life.”

I’ve got books to write and work to do. March may have shaken my confidence, but it’s no excuse not to build a bridge and get over it, as a good friend’s brother always says.