By Stephan Faris
IN THIS DRAB WORLD, WE ALL NEED A SPLASH: The wait is finally over. After two long months, the new COLORS magazine has finally hit the newsstand. Every issue raises the same two questions: How do they put this together so quickly? and Why can't they put one out more often?
Published in Italy by the United Colors of Benetton, COLORS consists mostly of images, sharing its parent company's sweeping visual style. the advertising is sparse and blends with the magazine's image-laden pages. If one picture is worth a thousand words, then we figure the average issue weighs in at about a quarter million. Their unflinching alien-come-down-to-earth objectivity is sometimes shocking, always beautiful.
Every issue tackles one theme, recent examples being: cigarettes, time, fat, weddings, animals, and gifts for the family. The current issue, titled "Home," follows their usual format, weaving a series of articles with pictures and unrelated quotes. One page superimposes an old man poking his head out of a cardboard box with the words: "Home is where I go to change clothes between parties. Ivan, 19, Russia."
The articles vary. This issue includes a portrait of two quarreling neighbors, a how-to guide to breaking and entering, an article on exiles and what they miss most about their homeland, descriptions and origins of mascots for household cleaners, and a feature on people living in "mobile homes"--street kids, polygamists, traveling salesmen, truck drivers, and gypsies.
Every issue is capped off with the "Yellow Pages," a listing of products and services that didn't quite make the main section. Our favorite this month: the Amsterdam Street-Jungle Survival Day, a service that allows you to "live like a homeless person for one to three days...you will spend your time with a homeless 'protective-eye' guide and have to fend for yourself for shelter, food, and water."
COLORS magazine bills itself as "a magazine about the rest of the world." Every issue is bilingual, in English and your choice of French, Spanish, Italian, or German. Russian and Croatian editions are available, and a Japanese or Chinese version is rumored to be coming soon. The staff list reads like an international directory: Milan, Johannesburg, Paris, Madrid, Wollongong, New York, Tehran. But despite all this, the magazine is really about our world, with the rest of the planet serving as a mirror against what we take for granted.
Damn! Do we really have to wait for two more months for the issue on "Touch"?
SNOW CALLING: These days, between, work, family, the half-hour commute, who's got time to read? Wait, did you say half-hour commute? Join the Books-On-Tape-Club's discussion of David Guterson's Snow Falling on Cedars. The club reviews both the book and the performance at 10 a.m. Saturday, August 29, at the Wilmot Branch Library, 530 N. Wilmot Road. So show up and make yourself heard. (Participants who've read the book rather than listened to it are also encouraged to attend.)
SUICIDEGATE: Just when you were getting sick of all things White House, James W. Johnson, a UA journalism professor, trots out One Step From the White House: The Rise and Fall of Senator William F. Knowland. Johnson, the book's co-author, will autograph copies of the book, which stars a right-wing senator from 1950s California, who, after a failed political career, put a bullet in his head. Makes you long for the day, don't it?
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