Hello, New Yorker

My Christmas gift to myself was to subscribe again to The New Yorker. I think this is my fourth go-round with the magazine.

My parents subscribed to it, and when I was a teenager there were stacks of old issues dating back into the 70s in the attic and in Mom’s magazine rack. At some point my Dad introduced me to Charles Addams, which eventually sent me poring through those old issues for Addams cartoons which hadn’t been collected. (As far as I know there are dozens – maybe hundreds – of Addams cartoons which have never been collected. I’m surprised no one has published a “complete” series of collections of his work, which leads me to think that either there are byzantine challenges in getting the rights, or there are many cartoons which have been lost. Maybe both.)

I first subscribed to the magazine around the end of graduate school. When I left school and got a job I had huge amounts of new free time, and I filled a lot of it with reading. (This was 1994/95, so the Internet was still a fairly small thing, even though I’d been very active on it since about 1989.) The New Yorker was a great source of fascinating reading material, and I clipped quite a few articles during that period which I still have in a file somewhere. (I recall one about Holocaust denial, though I can’t find it in their online archives.) Somewhat embarrassingly, I recall going to a WisCon where I kept referencing articles I’d read because I just had all this neat (to me) stuff in my head and had to get it out.

While there is a fair amount of New York-specific content (which I skip over, having never been to New York City), most of it is national or global in nature.

At the time I also subscribed to the also-weekly Comics Buyer’s Guide, the daily newspaper, and perhaps other things (maybe multiple science fiction magazines, maybe Smithsonian – it’s hard to be sure, 25 years later). The problem with any periodical is that you need to keep up with reading it or you start accumulating a stack of them waiting to be read, and at some point getting through that stack becomes so intimidating that you eventually give up (or go insane). Headline-oriented news is fairly easy to keep up with, since you can read headlines and then decide which articles you want to do a deeper dive into. But with The New Yorker and similar publications, the deep dive is the point. If you’re not reading at least a couple of articles in depth, then what are you subscribing for? Is it worth $20 per month or more just for the cartoons? Not really. (Especially today, where the cartoons are the one thing you can reliably get online for free.) So eventually I stopped.

But it’s still a pretty compelling package, so eventually I started up again. And stopped again. And then when my Mom passed away in 2015, I redirected all of her mail to me, and that included over a year outstanding on her own New Yorker subscription. When it expired, I re-upped for another year I subscribed on my own for another year, and then stopped again.

But now that I’ve dropped Consumer Reports, it felt like it was time to re-up The New Yorker.

Sadly, the cover below was not the first issue I received, which is too bad because it’s a great cover by Harry Bliss, which plays off an old Charles Addams cartoon (also below). An unknown blogger wrote about the cover here.

New Yorker cover Dec 28, 2020 by Harry Bliss
Charles Addams 1952 cartoon

Even worse, apparently it was their annual cartoon issue! Clearly I should have signed up just a little bit sooner.

Rather, my first issue featured an extremely long article about COVID-19 and the United States’ response to it. I’m willing to deep dive on some longer New Yorker articles, but 40+ pages on a subject I’m already fairly familiar with was a bit much for me. Well, better luck next week!

Once upon a time I’d come home from work and have one or more periodicals waiting for me, and I’d plop down on the couch and read through them. That’s not so likely these days since (1) I’m not going to work, and (2) with so many other things competing for my time, it’s more likely I’ll get to it the following weekend. Still, I think it’ll be fun to have it to read for the year or more.

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