David Eggers and David Moodie, the 20-something founding editors of Might magazine, now cringe when they think of their alternative bimonthly's first issue in 1994, which they describe as a "really earnest angsty-youth-kind-of-thing." Since then, Might's snarky social commentary has attracted much-deserved praise from its urban trendsetting readership -- who appreciate the magazine's countercultural, funnier-than-Spy-in-the-'80s tone, as well as its contributions from writers such as David Foster Wallace. Within a single issue, the duo recently examined the metamorphosis of yuppies into arpies (affluent recreating professionals); fantasized about being alone in a hotel room with author Joan Didion; and defended the heretofore indefensible, including bookstore chains, Pat Buchanan, and that misunderstood condiment, mayonnaise. Mother Jones asked Eggers and Moodie what they've been reading and listening to lately. Here's what they had to say about Benetton's Colors magazine:
"People complain that Colors is simply an advertisement for the clothing manufacturer, but that couldn't be further from the truth. There are, on average, only two Benetton ads each issue and only a few other ads -- leaving room for a thorough exploration of the subject at hand. Each issue has a broad and seemingly simple theme -- death, sex, work -- but the editors approach the subject matter from so many perfectly original angles that they make any topic seem completely fresh. It's the most brilliant photography-based magazine in the world."
The duo also recommends:
The Animals' Voice. "The vast majority of the world's magazines are trade publications, and reading one of them is like entering a strange new world, with its own weird language and iconography. My new favorite (which recently merged with The Animals' Agenda) is for animal rights activists but has such a strange, shrill take on the subject that it's truly bizarre, often terrifying, and frequently -- inadvertently -- hilarious. A cover from last year listed four main features: Animal Rights. Animal Emotions. Tuna & Dolphins. Pierce Brosnan."
Sound of Lies by the Jayhawks. "They're sort of a country-rock outfit, which I've never been a huge fan of or anything, but this album is so well crafted, so full of wonderful songs, that I often find myself looking forward to listening to it. With the recent popularity of bands like Wilco and Son Volt, it would be nice to see this record get some exposure, but because the band has been around awhile and has no MTV potential, it'll probably disappear, like most of the best albums do."
The Acme Novelty Library Great Big Book of Jokes by Chris Ware. "This is no joke book. Ware's work is among the very best graphic, comic, illustrative, and fine artwork being produced in the world right now. It's almost always sad stuff, about existential aloneness and unrequited love, but technically it's so stunning that it leaves you breathless."
Stay Free. "A byproduct of the 'zine explosion is the advent of 'zines that are too slick and smart to be called 'zines -- a term that implies messy layouts and puerile content -- and too small to be called magazines. So I call them 'metazines.' One that caught my eye recently is Stay Free, which concerns itself with puncturing rampant commercialism. The latest issue critiqued marketing to kids, but was not above waxing nostalgic about the toys of our youth."
"Iron Chef." "This frenetic Tokyo-based syndicated cooking show (with subtitles) is unlike anything produced here. In one studio, three chefs in three kitchens face off to create a gourmet meal with the show's mandated ingredients. The action is breathless and the coverage is straight ESPN -- all roving, handheld close-ups and play-by-play commentary ('Looks like eggplant to me.... Yes, he added the eggplant!') as three people simply cook."