You are currently browsing the monthly archive for December 2009.
I’ve been a casual reader of Urb since 1998 or so. Perhaps too casual, as I only just found out that the magazine suspended its print operations earlier this year due to… well, you name it. It’s a nasty time to be in publishing, even worse, I’m sure, if you’re paid to cover the one field that no one wants to go out and spend money on anymore. That’s a gross simplification, but one that enough people believe to actually matter. The potential readership for Urb should be at its highest in 2009, although I’m sure that blogs and other free media have dug into Urb‘s particular demographics just like they did with Harp and No Depression last year (and let’s not forget Newtype USA and PiQ on the anime side of the racks). Then again, a dip in readership (assuming that’s even the case at all) shouldn’t be enough to derail a magazine by itself. A much more likely culprit would be a drop in advertising revenue, which in this economy has been an all-too common condition for countless publications. Consider the kind of companies that mail their checks to Urb every month (record labels, clothing and shoe companies, other businesses dependent on their customers’ regular supply of disposable income) and it’s easy to see why the once-thriving stream of cash has slowed to a trickle for so many in the industry.
I should have known something was up when I noticed the same issue sitting on newsstands for several months. It’s now nearly 2010 and the summer issues still await purchase at Barnes and Noble (top) and Borders (below). Hopefully they find a good home soon.
My last music magazine subscription was The Wire and I’m probably still in some kind of debt for it to this day. Would love to support a worthy publication but towards the end of my (unrelated) Wired subscription, I wasn’t even unwrapping the issues as they piled up on my floor. I want to say that I really do love magazines, honestly, but I can’t pay for the ones I want most and can’t be bothered to keep up with the ones I actually can afford. Will 2010 bring us the long-anticipated subscription model for the digital age that actually works for both readers and publishers, or would I be better off anticipating my new electric car instead?
Counting a Livejournal I had for a year or two at the beginning of this decade, and two other blogs over on Blogger that I’ve been involved in for about three years or so, this is the fourth blog I’ve ever opened and hopefully my last. I’ve enjoyed blogging immensely, but a few mistakes along the way have turned it into a difficult chore. So far as having a personal blog, I really want a fresh start, a chance to shake off the biggest hang-ups that made my last one an exercise in constant self-censorship. I’d like a chance to write about what’s really on my mind and not have to worry about who might read it or what they might think. Essentially, this is a break from my past and hopefully a chance to reboot my online identity, one that’s hopefully going to be more expressive and interesting than any I’ve attempted to “craft” before. Previously, I allowed myself to get caught up in the act of “performing” for my friends and online acquaintances in my weekly entries, usually omitting more than I was actually saying and rarely writing anything of interest or relevance, as a result. This time around, I’d like to avoid that tendency, even if it means writing purely for myself, or at least cutting off those people (for now, at least) which, in a context like this, I feel hesitant to really open myself up for.
Why should I feel this way? Getting down to it, I’m basically a huge nerd and feel somewhat uncomfortable sharing my interests and concerns with others who might not understand why a 30 year-old man is into anime and cartoons. I’m not deluded enough to think that my situation is unheard of, or even puts me anywhere close to the top 2% of Internet geekdom or what have you. But it’s a hobby that, outside of my fantastic girlfriend, I don’t necessarily share with anyone else online or off. That’s not to say that I wouldn’t love to — maybe part of why I’m writing this now is in hopes that I might connect with some likeminded readers/bloggers or even make (gasp!) some new friends — but for reasons both practical and slightly neurotic, I haven’t quite accomplished this yet. Anyway, most of my online acquaintances don’t have much interest in my thoughts on Naruto, Evangelion, AMVs, or any series or aspect of “anime culture” out there, and I’m a little hesitant to make any further attempts to push the issue with them for now. Being a nerd in the 21st century has become an endearing quality of sorts, but when it comes to the mild otaku-dom that I dabble in, I’m through testing the patience and tolerance of anyone who’s not already on board with this shit.
My first forays into blogging were largely focused on music, a topic I’ll likely try to explore here as well. As trendy and commonplace as it’s become this decade, I feel obligated to state that I tend to follow and listen to “indie” music (albeit, not necessarily the fashionably quirky kind now so particular to television adverts and hospital dramas), especially the murky, often ineffable worlds of dance and electronic music. I’d love to be content to passively enjoy music like most listeners but I suffer from a constant urge to analyze and attempt to weigh in on it. I’ve had several years to find my voice in this respect, but despite my passion for it I don’t know if I’ve ever had much to contribute to the ongoing discussion of this stuff online (or in print, an experience I may vaguely allude to at times but probably never fully reveal). I’ve found my niche on a few music-inclined message boards and I wish that was enough for me, but I’ll probably continue to pound out half-baked missives on whatever ambient, techno, or indie rock I’m listening to at the moment.
Unfortunately, there seems to be little to no overlap between these worlds, even on the internet. Urb magazine runs (or used to, at least) an anime section in its back pages, and the occasional editor at AMV.org will make a video with a dance track that’s not by Cascada. Otherwise, the average anime fan online sticks to nu-metal and 90’s pop of the most insidious strains, and pretty much no one who follows dubstep or any vaguely “underground” music will consider watching any anime that’s not Cowboy Bebop, if even that. Perhaps I’ve overestimated the gulf between these camps but nothing in my personal experience suggests that fans of either interest are concerned with or even aware of each other.
Beyond these realms, hopefully I’ll find some more consequential topics worth exploring as well. As much as I seem to lean on them as some kind of measuring stick to routinely judge others by, I know that people aren’t defined by their niche interests, so I’ll probably try to branch out from time to time and maybe even write about other topics or even personal issues. I’m a little weary of the kind of around-the-clock coverage that people offer of their private lives to the public in our Myspace/Twitter-afflicted age (or maybe I’m just too shy to compete with them) so I’ll probably keep the personal stuff to a minimum, but hopefully I’ll have more reasons than I’ve had in the past to want to share what’s going on in my life, while finding a way to make it worth reading about. And as much as I bitch about “internet culture” and the lack of easy-to-find people whose hobbies and personal persuasions I can strongly identify with, I’ll try to stay positive and to give the people and works that I get most excited about the credit they deserve.
It’s one day after Christmas. I was showered with gifts the magnitude of which I haven’t seen since I was a child, I have more than a week off from work, and I’m feeling better than I have in years, winter and post-holiday stress fully taken into account. I’ve been waiting to post this for quite some time, I’ve had my coffee and I’m feeling focused, motivated and suitably uninhibited, so let’s get started, shall we?