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Vice is Nice
By Gloria Diaz
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Fort Wayne Reader
I broke down and subscribed to People magazine, probably the first subscription to anything I've had in about 10 years. I figured it would be cheaper than buying 10 copies a year and paying the full cover price. Except after three issues, I'm a bit disappointed.
I'm not sure why. Maybe it's because I feel out of touch with the world right now—I rarely watch television, a couple of my favorite television shows from the 2000's have been off the air for a while, current radio is baffling, and I am too poor to purchase (and too impatient to get on the waiting list) for the latest fiction. Reading about some starlet's $2 million dollar wedding doesn't fill me with hope or joy; instead, I am disgusted she spent so much for a party celebrating a marital union that won't last as long as my undergrad program in college did. (It took me six years, because I changed my major at the last damn minute.)
It could be because People might be the wrong magazine fit. Back in the day, I subscribed to Spy, which made fun of celebrities. Someone from the staff would call up a famous NYC eatery, claiming to be a personal assistant to some B or C list celebrity, trying to get a table for them. Which obscure celebrity had the most pull? It was fun to see if a fictional Baldwin brother could score a table over a real-life celebrity sibling, or a dead one.
Another feature that Spy had was “Separated at Birth.” Whoever responsible for this feature would find two photos of unrelated people, striking a similar pose, and put them side by side, with a cute, rhyming phrase for each.
I remember one Spy cover that actually shocked me—it was Ellen DeGeneres's face combined with a photo of Princess Diana complete with tiara. The headline? “Di, Ellen!” But that was Spy magazine. Just enough attitude and humor.
It turns out that I thought I paid for the subscription, but I got correspondence from People saying it never got the check. After several months, I sent them another check and asked them to call me as soon as they got payment. I haven't gotten a call yet. And I'm regretting that I sent the check to a magazine that is mildly amusing to me, but not thoroughly amusing. I'm going to have to find something else, like Vice magazine. I always pick it up whenever I can find it in a major city, which means that I haven't picked up a new copy in about nine years now. Several years ago, I found a collection of articles from the magazine, published in a book. The material focused on sex, drugs, and rock and roll, along with some other selections. It had an article about why Hispanics weren't unified, which was probably the most honest thing I'd ever read on the subject. Why no unity? Because, as Vice pointed out, Hispanics were just as racist and classicist as everyone else. I still have the “tidbits” issue, chock full of photos about strange objects such as Singing Nun dolls, an embroidered jacket with “Elvis” on the back over a guitar, Bimbo cookies, Cock soup, “Smack” snacks changed to “Snack” snacks, and ice cream bars that looked like they were made with marijuana (these were from Russia, I think.) There was also an interesting article from that same issue written by a guy who had stolen a huge amount of stuff by using a magnet and a dollar bill stuck on an 18-inch length of packing tape.
So I'm sort of anticipating my subscription to People magazine. It will be nice to have new reading material coming into the house on a regular basis, but I wonder how interesting it's going to be. When the inevitable letter comes asking me to re-subscribe (probably in a mere two months or so), I'll probably turn them down. I do plenty of reading online, but there's nothing like cracking open a new book or magazine. I'll probably break down and subscribe to Vice, even though I'm probably not in their demographic. I like the magazine's style—photos as well as writing, and in the meantime, I'll watch their videos online, because they cover interesting topics as well. Slab City, USA, about people who appear to live in trailers in the Califoria desert, the world's most dangerous drug, and the conflict between Rangers and Celtic (I read about that years ago in a 'zine, and the video Vice did on fans of the teams is fascinating.) Vice does the kind of journalism that you've always wondered about, but never see in the mainstream, certainly not People magazine. So, if the usual magazines aren't doing it for you, check out Vice. You'll be pissed off and entertained—maybe even at the same time.