Sunday, January 11, 2009

Tattler Product Review: THE MAGAZINE ("World Class Living")

Just to be clear about exactly what it is that we are reviewing here, it is not The Magazine for the Arts, a publication dedicated to the hopes and desires of the Los Angeles artistic and literary set. Nor are we talking about The, something devoted to the pop fantasies of preteens. No, what we're discussing today is THE MAGAZINE, a glossy San Gabriel Valley publication aimed at the pretensions of the striving nouveau riche set. You know, the kinds of folks who somehow confuse ostentatious consumption with sophistication. As opposed to the more down dressing old money crowd, whom I suspect would rather be seen in a leisure suit than caught reading this thing.

Now perhaps you receive this free publication in the mail. It shows up at the Maundry Estate, and for a while I wondered how it was decided that I fit the demo. There are products advertised in here that (should I be given one), would raise enough money to pay off my mortgage when properly pawned. But then it occurred to me that really wasn't the point. This isn't a publication for the authentically moneyed.

THE MAGAZINE is very much a child of its time, which by my reckoning was early 2006. You might recall that was the moment when the more foolhardy among us were refinancing their vastly overvalued homes with uncapped interest only subprime loans, then taking their couple hundred grand and buying the kinds of products one finds in THE MAGAZINE. And let's face it, nobody is more susceptible to naive consumerism than the temporarily rich. But now it's 2009, the house is in receivership, the golden doorknobs, platinum toilets and fussy porcelain statuary are up for bids on eBay, and the bank holding the paper on these parvenu palaces is whining to Uncle Sam for a chunk of our tax money to help them stave off bankruptcy.

There seems to be two things guiding this publication through the chillier economic clime of 2009. The first is that it functions as a vanity press. Many of those purchasing advertising in THE MAGAZINE are also treated to softball interviews about their jobs, which are accompanied by large close-up photos of their esteemed selves. An example would be the puff piece with Victoria Pearson, whose Rusnak Auto Group purchased a stunning 15 full page ads in the latest issue. Another would be with Lowell Hamburg of Sotheby's International Realty, whose organization bought 9 full page ads. And by the way, Lowell wants you to know that, "If you are a seller or a buyer and need to make a move, now is the time. The market will remain this way for a while." In other words, he's lonely and hopes to see you soon.

The other way THE MAGAZINE functions is as what my dear old dad, who published newspapers, used to refer to as a "fish wrapper." A "fish wrapper" is a publication that signs exclusive advertising contracts with interested concerns, then puts their copious ad buys into a setting that is a step or two up from the Target or Wal*Mart flyers you find in your Sunday L.A. Times. A "fish wrapper" gives the appearance of being a publication of note, but is actually little more than a setting for the usual commercial hype. THE MAGAZINE states on its credits page that it "reserves the right to refuse publication of advertisements submitted for publication." And as it is under contract to its more big spending clientele, it really has little choice but to reserve this option.

The publisher of THE MAGAZINE is a gentleman named Steve Tobia, who many here in Sierra Madre might recall as being the fellow responsible for the now heavily morphed Mountain Views. Steve always liked to share his opinions on pressing matters, and in his latest publication he holds forth per usual. "Embracing the so called 'global economy' crossed every industrial sector without any forethought or in-depth analysis of the long-term consequences or what would be required here in America to balance the rush for economic globalization," he opines. For the publisher of a magazine dependent upon advertising for six figure foreign-made automobiles, that really is quite a statement.


  1. Is Tobia's opinion quote even a full sentence? The only thing glossy crap has that ordinary crap does not is--well, gloss. Not interested, can't be bothered.

  2. Wouldn't it be more patriotic to give your platinum toilet seat to the Air Force so that they can melt it down and make fighter planes? We are in a war, you know.

  3. I found it amusing that the "magazine" is going to follow Steve's face/skin rejuvination.

    I am on a DO NOT MAIL junk list. Why am I getting his dribble?

  4. Gawd. I'm sure they'll be lining up to read all about that exciting news.

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