So we finally took a good look at Good, the magazine founded by Inc. heir Ben Goldhirsh in an attempt to do something entrepreneurial with his cash. The magazine starts of with a spread containing the message "America, love it or..." Barely able to hold our anticipation in check, we skipped to the next spread, which continues "...fix it." That's a pretty good approximation of the magazine as a whole: text-light, image heavy, and over-the-top earnest. Even the blow-in cards are ridiculous ("Recycling is GOOD," "Be GOOD, don't litter").
The book itself won't seem unfamiliar to anyone who has read a magazine within the last ten years: The front is filled with charts, graphs, and pictures; it's a virtual riot of entry points. The subjects are similarly shopworn: food production, Paris Hilton, free trade coffee. (Note the edgy graphic accompanying the coffee piece. Wow.) The Marketplace section somehow makes New York's Strategist seem like a font of depth and wisdom; the brief portraits of "good" people, are, at the very least brief.
There are some heavy hitters writing for Good: James Surowiecki, Gary Shteyngart, and Kurt Vonnegut all make appearances (although Vonnegut's piece is a cartoon doodled on a napkin, pulled from his website; reminding us of nothing so much as David Mamet's HuffPo cartoons). We're nor sure what Goldhirsch is paying per word, but we can only imagine the joy on these guy's faces when their agents called. Also, there are stickers and Joel Stein. The back page is a goddamned project. Because, you know, that's how you fix America: making bumper sticker about voting.
It's easy to be cynical about Good: Every single influence is clearly displayed, and, good Lord, does the earnestness get grating. The letter from the editor comes atop a paean to the Creative Commons license and a message about how the paper stock chosen "saved the equivalent of 150 trees and lowered air emissions by 21,520 lbs." (Of course, Al Gore's kid is an associate publisher.) Still, we'd feel kind of bad completely dismissing it out of hand: Sure, it may be a rich kid's attempt to justify his inheritance. Yeah, it's basically a McSweeney's for the trust fund set. Okay, it's somehow even more self-congratulatory than McSweeney's. But we're tempted to give it a passing grade for this reason alone: If rich people are going to read anything, it's probably better that they read this than, say, Dealmaker. But again, that's assuming rich people read.
We guess it could be worse.