Free Magazine Review: Montgomery Living (August 2009)

It’s time for yet another installment of everyone’s favorite feature here at Lost in Montgomery, the Free Magazine Review! Previous looks at the area’s free magazines considered an issue of Vetrepreneur, an issue of Dixie Living Magazine, and an issue of Montgomery RSVP. Now it’s time to take a look at one of the rivals of the latter publication:

What’s it called? Montgomery Living

What is it? The subtitle is “The River Region Magazine,” but don’t let that confuse you with yet another favorite free periodical often available here in Montgomery, River Region’s Journey, which is a very Christian magazine to be reviewed in another edition of Free Magazine Review. No, Montgomery Living is actually just a super-glossy and pretentious “high end” publication, complete with a whopping $3 cover price and a ton of color photos. Although we have never, ever, seen it for sale anywhere. According to its website, “the magazine is designed, edited and produced to appeal to upscale, well-educated, involved individuals.” Oh. Right. Also on the website? Super Hot, Blue Blood, All White debutante action.

Where’d we find it? Our memory on this is a bit hazy, but we think it either came from our vet’s office or a doctor’s office. Or maybe it was in a salon of some sort. Needless to say, these are a bit harder to find than Montgomery RSVP (due to their high price), but still are pretty much anywhere that rich people congregate and shop.

What’s the deal? This seems to be the kingpin of the local free mags. Hell, maybe they aren’t even really free. But they ought to be. Montgomery Living is full of predictable Chamber of Commerce schlock. It’s the typical fare about food and cultural events, with a focus on non-offensive looks at “social scenes” and half-assed travel writing. As with RSVP, the whole thing is run by women. The editor, all three people in marketing, the art director, the sole staff writer, the social gadfly columnist, the business manager, and 10 of 12 contributing writers — all ladies.

What sections do they have? Editor’s Letter, Favorite Things (“Cool, current products”), 10 Things (evidently random), On the Table (food reviews), Artbeat, Destinations and Diversions, Profiles and Perspectives, In the Garden, Living Well, Good Deeds, Interiors/Exteriors, Socially Speaking, Cityscapes, and Out and About.

Who advertises? All the heavy-hitters. We’re talking tons of full color, full-page ads from the big hospitals, Blue Cross/Blue Shield, real estate, hotels, restaurants, and furniture stores. It’s a who’s who of the White People Scene in Montgomery, with half-page ads from the two most exclusive private schools, personal trainers and yoga studios, heavy oil portrait painting, plastic surgeons, etc.

What’s interesting in this issue? The full page ad taken out by the Montgomery Area Visitors Center is pretty funny. It features a pile of crap you can buy at the visitors center, such as a t-shirt that says “Hey Ya’ll” and the cookbook written by the wife of the governor. Hurry down! Supplies may be limited!

As far as writing goes, there’s not much to recommend. The editor seems to struggle to put together an intro to the magazine in her perky and upbeat “From the Editor” column. But she does look like a victim of the Joker’s Smilex gas, so that’s pretty entertaining to look at for a few seconds. She writes about how it’s nice to write letters to people.

The “Ten Things You Might Not Know About the River Region” is a laughable attempt to fill one and a half pages. They were all things that we both already knew, and we have lived here slightly longer than a year. Did you know that Hank Williams used to play music here? That F. Scott Fitzgerald and Zelda used to live here? Yes. Yes, we did know that.

There’s a decent piece on how Montgomery is now sister cities with a city in Italy, “the vibrant Tuscan city of Pietrasanta.” It’s really more of a town (population: less than 25,000), but the article doesn’t mention that and has a nice photo of our mayor Todd Strange accepting a book of some sort from the mayor of Pietrasanta who is hilariously wearing a red, white, and green sash. So, um, yay for cultural exchanges.

There’s an article about a local private school titled “Still Pursuing Excellence,” which is funny both because that school has purchased an ad in this issue of the magazine, giving lie to any pretense of editorial objectivity, but also because the title makes it sound like the school has been chasing the elusive goal without success for quite some time. Happy 50th anniversary to a hallmark of the flight from the integrated City of Montgomery school system!

The cover story is about a new entertainment district inventively called “The Alley.” It boasts a bar, a Dreamland, and an Italian place. Oh, and “an event space.” Because those are cool. The article doesn’t mention that this is all the product of the former mayor, who was sent off to Congress, or that there were major legal fights about an ugly water tower that was plopped down at the entrance to the alley, or that the whole thing reeks of Trying Too Hard. Nope. Just an article saying that there are places to go and Please God Shop Locally because “We Have Nice Things Tooooo.” Mike Watson, a local architect, is the owner of the bar and he designed the Alley Project for the city. We think the Alley Bar is OK and plan to go there after some Biscuits games. But the Montgomery Living write up? Needs to be dragged out into the alley and beaten.

The Fashion “FIX-ations” section is truly cringeworthy. We really felt sorry for the poor women forced to model the paisley mini-bag (hilariously described as “of the moment”) and the tiered concoctions supposed to represent “Dos.” By the end of the article our female half had resolved never ever to set foot inside Painted Pink, where the owners evidently recommend that ladies wear something called a “funky boyfriend/lumberjack shirt.”

Yes, this magazine has two pages of gardening advice and a two page barn burner of an article about why it’s important to get a good night’s sleep. Bottom line? For a superficial look at events that have likely already happened, or are too expensive to attend, or simply threaten to bore you to sleep, this magazine would be the perfect companion for any trip to the dentist’s office or hospital waiting room. And if shoddy travel writing along with poorly-conceived articles about food are what you crave, grab yourself a copy of Montgomery Living.

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3 responses to “Free Magazine Review: Montgomery Living (August 2009)

  1. Thanks. The Alley’s water tower is truly ugly and out of place. I have no intention of patronizing any of those businesses located there.

  2. Pingback: Free Magazine Review: Montgomery RSVP (July/Aug 2009) | Lost in Montgomery

  3. Pingback: Free Magazine Review: Montgomery Living (June 2010) | Lost in Montgomery

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