All the magazines are dying! It's the Internet's fault. No, actually magazines have always died. Statistically, 80 percent of them fail. Which is what makes the medium such a perfect object for nostalgia.
Not all of the deparated are worthy of such reverence. Will anyone weep for O At Home or Cottage Living? Rather didn't think so. Here are three I wish were still on the newsstand.
Though its circulation topped out at 194,000, Spy touched us all by destroying the '80s cult of celebrity. Spy, which launched in 1986, never lost its acidic insight as it morphed from a New York insider rag to a mainstream national publication. It established literary practices which Gawker readers might find commonplace: Dubbing Donald Trump, for example, a "short-fingered vulgarian." It died, at long last, in 1994 — just in time to inspire a generation of disenchanted Web writers, like Joey Anuff and Carl Steadman, who launched Suck.com, an unabashed homage, in 1995. (I worked at Suck.com for one blissful year.)
I kept stealing this magazine from my high school gal pals. (Yeah, it took me a while to figure out I was gay.) Teen magazines are clearly doomed; drawing the Facebook generation away from laptops and cell phones is a hopeless cause. But if Sassy were still around, they might be driven to the newsstand to try out this newfangled ink-and-paper contraption. The reason why: Sassy spoke authentically using the real language of teenagers. Sort of the way Web publications have so enthusiastically adopted LOLspeak!
Launched in 1989, this magazine was the first of the tech-and-business titles that proliferated during the '90s and died after the dotcom bubble burst. (All of which are gone: The Industry Standard, eCompany Now, Business 2.0, and, for all intents and purposes, Red Herring.) The writing was uneven, but in its best days, it tweaked Silicon Valley like no one else. A cover showing Wired founders Louis Rossetto and Jane Metcalfe as Adam and Eve provoked hilarious outrage among the digerati. (Anyone have a scan of that cover? Please send it to me.) The magazine's decline had a tragic note: Aaron Bunnell, the magazine's Web chief and son of publisher David Bunnell, overdosed in 2000. The elder Bunnell kept the magazine going for another two years.
That's my list of magazines I wish were still publishing. What's on yours? Did anyone actually read Cottage Living? I'm sort of dying to know.