Tuesday, March 30, 2004

16 Special Issues

I'm rearranging my shelves this morning to make my collection a little more accessible. I found a stack of magazines that I had saved for one reason or another, and some special issues of Time Magazine, which at that time I must have thought important to save, but now see how poorly written they were.

For example, I saved the Time Special Anniversary Issue "The Most Amazing 60 Years in History." They meant, of course, 60 years of Time Magazine coverage. Unfortunately, the senior writer, Otto Friedrich, neglected to tell the editors to put the date on the journal, so I have no idea when it appeared. There are copyright dates of 1983 on the cigarette advertising, but the cover, the colophon, and the running title at the bottom of each page are mute. So I got out a magnifying glass and peered at the tiny reproduction of the cover of volume 1, number 1 and discovered it is dated March 3, 1923.

And it only gets worse. The articles are rambling and not tied to any dates--I guess they thought the readers of the 1980s would know when Lindbergh flew, the Russians revolted, Rosa Parks rode the bus, the H-bomb was tested or Minute Rice was invented. Instead of chronological, it is divided into 6 broad categories, with overlaps so large, they make no sense. So it appears that a "history" issue that should begin with 1923, starts with 1939, indeed a very fine year, but apparently chosen because it was the preface to World War II, the defining moment for the editors of this issue. It skips from 1950 to 1968 then back to 1930, 1949 and 1956 and so on. I'm getting dizzy. Then 1927, 1948, 1963, pausing for a large fold out of the 1983 Chrysler Laser XE (another clue?), a model I don't remember. Now back to 1923 with a story of von Ludendorff and his side-kick Adolf Hitler, women protesting sex discrimination, and the war on diabetes slogging through 1980. Start over at 1944 on to 1982 where the discussion pretty much ends with how the personal computer is changing lives and offices.

Because this special issue is now over 20 years old its only value is to point out how worthless it is as an historical source, somehow giving it worth in the history of magazines. Odd.

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