Sometime last year, internet magazines jumped the shark. Time was you could find websites with a wide range of interesting reading–some entertaining, some thought-provoking, most of it pretty well written. But sometime last year, I can’t firmly pin-point a date maybe when Andrew Sullivan closed down The Dish or when Ta-Nehisi Coates gave up his regular blog at The Atlantic, this changed. I suppose there was no way you could keep all those writers working for so close to nothing and expect them to keep up the quality.
Now, with the content bar set so low anyone with an ax to grind can publish something on Huffington Post and it’s become very hard to find regular internet reading that isn’t generated by a corporation with an issue to push. And let’s just not get started on click-bait for that way lies madness.
So I decided it was time to give print magazines another go. You’ll need a decent bookstore if you want a decent selection of print magazines these days. Many of the once big names have become so slight they’re hardly worth the Time. But there are plenty of magazines out there as I discovered at the Association of Writers and Writing Programs (AWP) conference I went to earlier this year, they’re just hiding in the land of not-for-profit foundations and colleges.
So I picked up a copy of The Baffler at my almost local Barnes and Noble. Glad that I did, too. The Baffler features a mix of poetry, short fiction, essays and journalism. I admit skipping the fiction in favor of the non-fiction this time around. Though the poetry wasn’t my cup of tea, I thoroughly enjoyed all of the articles I read. The Baffler has a foundation which means no advertising so no sponsors to offend. The articles are long-form but avoid going on ad infinitum the way so many internet features tend to do these days. (This one included, I suppose.)
One of my favorite pieces was “Everybody Freeze,” Corey Pein’s article about Cryonics, the freezing of body parts for later resuscitation, particularly the Alcor Life Extension Foundation which, for a very high fee will preserve your frozen head, in the hopes that it can one day be attached to a body and brought back to life. Mr. Pein’s story covers how this all started along with how it is done, but his main interest is in how this “science” went from discredited in the late 1990’s to acceptable, nearly trendy today. Currently it is supported by several Silicon Valley big-wigs including a co-founder of Pay Pay and Facebook.
It’s fascinating reading as were the other articles in The Baffler.
And it turns out they have a pretty good website, too, but the magazine is better.