Continuing a theme here at Lost in Montgomery, it’s time for another installment of Free Magazine Review! Previous installments looked at Montgomery RSVP (Mar/Apr 2009) and Vetrepreneur (Nov/Dec 2008).
What’s it called? Dixie Living Magazine. The subtitle is (no kidding) “everyone likes something for free.” When your magazine has a blatant lie on the cover, you know it’s got to be good. I can think a number of things that can be provided at no cost that nobody wants. In the name of good taste, I’ll avoid listing those here.
What is it? The subtitle of the magazine is “Covering Southeast Alabama and the Chattahoochee Valley.” So I guess that’s what they do. I would wager that many people who actually live in the Chattahoochee Valley do not know that they live there. I grew up in Alabama and this is not a place name that has much currency with me. If you are confused, this talking dog in a top hat, Chattahoochee Poochie, will provide you with answers.
Where’d we find it? This issue was discovered in an assisted living home in Troy.
What’s the deal? This is a pretty cheaply-produced 30-pager that appears to be as widely-ranging as possible. When it says that it “covers” Southeast Alabama, I think they mean that in the very loosest sense possible. It seems to be someone’s project for selling ads. I went to their website to gather more information and discovered that the magazine is the product of an entire family. The mailing address is in Banks, Alabama, which if you have ever been to Banks, you would find wildly improbable. They claim to print 5,000 magazines a month and a number of the articles are things like Internet jokes that are published under the byline “contributed.” They claim on their website to have “lots of clean humor, and of course, The Redneck Page.” The Redneck Page is, evidently, a Neal Boortz production.
What sections do they have? Unclear. The entire magazine is a collection of random crap that can barely be slotted into sections. There’s something at the start that claims to come “from the Editor’s desk.” There are Letters to the Editor. And then just a bunch of crap. Perhaps the Solunar Tables are a regular feature. There also appears to be a regular column called “Book Bit,” where Doc Kirby publishes a book review. There is also a Photo of the Month, a few Classified Ads, and something called Down on the Farm. Oh, and recipes and Kids Coloring Page.
Who advertises? Lots of folks. Color ads from the hardware store and business card sized black and white ads from every sort of small town merchant you can imagine: frame shops, contractors, restaurants, and tire stores. The ad department evidently has some smooth talkers (or cheap rates). There’s a full page ad from a country music radio station offering, “Your Kind of Country.”
What’s interesting in this issue? Not a lot. Imagine all of the horrible crap that you get forwarded on the Internet. Now imagine that printed out in magazine form. That’s pretty much what you have here. There’s not really any “reporting,” and very little “content” per se. If things like “Birds of a feather flock together and mess on your car” crack you up, this magazine has the kind of cornpone 5th grade humor that will keep you busy for the 13 minutes it takes to read the entire publication.
There is a particularly entertaining column by Shirley Capps called “Ettiquet for Eating Grits.” The best part about this article is that its title is misspelled in an entirely different way in the Table of Contents: “Ettiquite for Eating Grits.” The piece begins:
“What are grits? Nobody knows. Some folks believe that grits are grown on bushes and are harvested by midgets by shaking the bushes after spreading sheets around them. Many people feel that grits are made from ground up bits of white corn. These are obviously lies spread by Communists and terrorists.”
The article continues, including discussion of South Carolina grits mines and the “Ten Commandments of Grits.” It’s nice to see that Dixie Living Magazine has opted to publish the rambling comedic stylings of hyper-stoned rural Alabamians.
And in case you’re wondering, the Kids Coloring Page is a horrific living apple that will give any child a lifetime of nightmares.
Bottom line on this publication: Someone has sold a ton of ads with absolutely no ideas for what sort of content to wrap around the large volume of tiny ads. The publishers are obviously super right wing (there’s an “ad” for Rush Limbaugh that makes no mention of what radio station plays his show and the “blog” kept by the publishers includes this awesome ad for a Tea Bagging Party; the editor seems to be pretty obsessed with the end of the world as we know it, which he abbreviates TEOTWAWNKI, adding a mysterious extra N for extra frisson). Little in the way of copyediting (“Ettiquet” is only the tip of the iceberg – just ask “Dave Leterman”). I’ll be pretty surprised if this thing is still around in a year, but even if it is, I’d be even more surprised to meet someone who actually leafed through an issue and found something worth reading.