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So what's the shelf life of a millennium? It's already spring in magazineland. Anything last century, or even last week, is so over.

Turn around at the newsstand and, starting next week, you'll be seeing the next wave of vague-culture (watered-down culture for the masses) launches upon us: Oprah's O magazine, Time's Real Simple and Jann Wenner's re-creation, USWeekly.

Rock mags aren't spared, either. Looking like it's aimed at the Mojo crowd, advance "free preview issues" of Revolver are being passed around to record-store staffers and magazine distributors.

"Do we really need another music magazine?" asks Freddy Jenkins, a Schoolkids manager and WUNC-FM deejay. "It looks promising, especially the artwork and pictures, but let's wait and see if the real issues have any substance."

Revolver does look good: front-cover photo of Keith, a two-page black-and-white photo of the Clash, and from left field, Madonna's bullet-bra bustier and an Elvis mug shot. Subtitled "All the Noise That's Fit to Print," the magazine is a quick page-turner. Maybe the text is still being written. No dummies there, though. They already have a dot-com address.

Two other wakeups are making an appearance on the new year's newsstand. You can fill your CD racks with all the free discs being given away with the most recent issues of a bunch of rock mags from England. Must be a price war going on over there. Select, rock sound, Future Music and Uncut all have bonus CDs glued to their covers.

Live Hendrix, vintage Marley and Hank Williams, excellent cuts from the Dead and Frank--25 tunes in all for less than $7--appear on the soundtrack for the century issue of Uncut. Plus, you get the magazine. Sony/AOL/Warner would never allow such excess on these shores.

The other good news is the continued success of quality arty/glossy magazines in the face of all the Web site hoopla. Some stuff just looks better and is more accessible in the print media format. Check out artbyte and Big.

artbyte just won the Folio Gold Award for Editorial Excellence. The magazine plays like a young Wired staffed by artists rather than venture capitalists. Fun to read, great to look at, even if half the content is over my head. They mean it when they tout themselves as "the magazine of digital culture."

Big just jumps in your face. This oversize mag is so slick, so cool, so graphic. Very modern, but not over-the-top desktop-cluttered like so many hip font-frenzied magazines. Page after page of print excitement. Yeah, that's right. Turning pages, still alive for another century.

More by John Valentine


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