Saturday, 12 March 2016


Ruminations on a Magazine Delivered by Canada Post in a Somewhat Timely Manner While Staying Up Late, Drinking Alone, Staring Out the Dining Room Window and Listening to Astral Weeks

Rolling Stone is not a weekly nor is its content acutely time sensitive so when our mail carrier eventually gets around to delivering the latest issue I’m not particularly annoyed. Week-old New Yorkers and Economists, stale afterthoughts in my mailbox bundled with pizza and hamburger flyers, enrage me until I take a moment to breathe. It’s no secret that the service Canada Post is mandated to provide citizens is increasingly erratic. The corporation seems to have adopted the fatalistic attitude of the doomed middle manager toiling fruitlessly for a company whose share prices have not met analysts’ expectations: Why bother?

You have to pick your hill to die on or choose which scab to pick at. Times are changing for Canada Post. Today, Elvis might sing ‘Bounce Back’ or ‘No Wi-fi’ instead of ‘Return to Sender.’ I have come to terms with the fact that I can no longer be the recipient of a Saturday delivery of 200 Roman soldiers shipped from Battle Creek, Michigan. It’s not 1967 anymore. I cannot remember the last time anybody I know opened a letter from me, medium blue Bic block printing on graph paper, a precise technique I lifted from my father. There will be no attic trove of yellowed, folded sheets anywhere after I commune with the spirit in the sky. There will be instead a ghost in the grid: undeleted e-mails, this blog, an inactive Facebook account and years of archived posts somewhere inside the digital circuitry of the music chat board I’ve been frequenting for a dozen years to date.

The cover of the latest Rolling Stone depicts the three deranged Republican presidential candidates armed with primitive weapons, farm implements: an inciteful and ignorant mini-mob beyond satire. Transcendental insanity south of the Medicine Line isn’t really any of my business, but the magazine itself troubled me. The page count was reduced and the binding was stapled. There weren’t enough pages between the covers to warrant a glued and printed spine, about the width of an LP sleeve, a first since Rolling Stone shrank, reformatting its size to match those of pop culture oriented newsstand competitors. There are still newsstands in airports; I’ve wandered past them, killing time, seeking a reasonably priced ham and cheese sandwich.

The skimpiness of the magazine made me angry. I’ve been an avid reader since 1975. Rolling Stone through the years has informed me, provoked me and entertained me. Its propensity toward masturbatory self-aggrandizing infuriates me, but hey, CREEM and Trouser Press are dead and mostly forgotten so here’s the lotion and the Kleenex. Try not to make a mess like you did with the botched campus rape story. I’ve read that the publication has cut staff affiliated with its print edition but has hired staff to enhance its digital presence. My subscription expires this coming December.

I’ve been wondering what to do. Some old habits are so hard to break. Sometimes I care about what’s in the magazine. The latest issue carries a special report on artificial intelligence; I’m intrigued by the potential ramifications of an evolving technology I can’t quite comprehend. I’ll probably be dead by the time it all shakes down in a Frankenstein or I, Robot modern Promethean way. Then again, we went from Kittyhawk to the moon inside the 20th century and the acceleration of the rate of progress since 1969 has red lined from Mach One to warp speed. Who knows? Maybe a conscientious and overly chatty machine will insist upon keeping me alive and refuse to grant me my peaceful big sleep.

During a cigarette and half a beer on the back steps, silhouetted in the light of the open kitchen door, about three minutes into ‘Cyprus Avenue,’ I remember there’s a new machine in the house. I have a tablet now. I tend to use it Sunday mornings because news happens on Saturdays even if there are no Sunday papers to report it. I am developing a new habit.

What about Rolling Stone? What if I were to keep our relationship going via a digital subscription? For a lower price I’d get the complete print content, additional content which doesn’t quite suit the once tried and true ink and paper format, and access to the publication’s archives going all the way back to the magazine’s debut in 1967. It’s not exactly what I’ve been used to, which is annoying but I’m fairly certain I can adapt and circumvent Canada Post at the same time.

This far along in my life I think I can change. A bit. A modicum or an iota. Maybe I can review my other magazine subscriptions. Maybe I can get more, cheaper magazine subscriptions this way. I loved Sports Illustrated once. Forbes? I love reading. It’s important to grasp the thingyness of things. ‘Maybe this is the way forward,’ I muse as I turn the record over to play side two. Baby steps into a brave new world.

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