Free Magazine Review: Montgomery Living (June 2010)

As we wade through the massive towering stack of magazines and other pop culture flotsam and jetsam (mostly jetsam, for those interested in the difference), another installment for you, dear readers, of our Free Magazine Review feature.

What’s it called? Montgomery Living. We’ve reviewed it once before.

What is it? It’s a super-glossy advertising vehicle for what passes for the high end here in town. Also it has articles. But evidently it can’t afford much in the way of a copy editor. This issue abounds with a host of screaming grammar atrocities, in-sentence redundancies, various typos and a general overuse of the hyphen.

Where’d we find it? Although Montgomery Living has a cover price of $3.00, we have only seen it offered for sale at one place in town. We’re pretty sure we got this issue at the dentist’s office. It still counts as a free magazine as far as we’re concerned because the cover price is clearly a gimmick (possibly a bookkeeping trick) to make it seem like the magazine is substantially different from its free counterparts. Which difference, if it exists, is in degree rather than in kind.

What’s the deal? If RSVP is the Colossus standing astride Montgomery’s free magazine scene, Montgomery Living is the Ronex watch that adorns the Colossus. Consider:

a) Appearance. ML looks more like a real magazine than the other rumpled and vaguely sticky publications jammed into a basket in your OBGYN’s waiting room. Its articles look a little less like they are pulled straight from press releases, and the whole operation seems less home-made than, say, Montgomery Parent.

b) Aspiration. The “About Us” page on their website explains that ML is for the “affluent” among us here in the River Region. Like all good journalism, ML is in the business of “lifestyle-enhancement editorial.” In case you’re confused about what this all means, consider these items excerpted from their reader survey:

Do we even need to comment on these items? When the per capita income in Montgomery County isn’t even $36,000, there is no option for owning zero residences?

c) Function. The whole purpose of a fake Rolex watch is to make people think you are wearing a Rolex watch. Otherwise you would buy a watch that was engineered to keep the time rather than to make people believe you have $60k or so just sitting around to adorn your wrist in a gesture that becomes more useless every time someone looks at their cell phone to tell the time. Or maybe that kind of behavior is just too gauche for the luxe parties you attend at The Waters? Generally, fake Rolexes aren’t engineered to do much else than to look like Rolexes – that is, they don’t tell the time especially well. ML, alas, falls into the same trap. It leaves numbers in the middle of words like “be5lieve” for no apparent reason. It reviews Sal’s without describing how the food tastes. It uses two words (“Prior to”) when one word (“Before”) would do nicely. It runs ads for products that it “writes up” in subsequent issues.

In short, ML rattles a bit when you shake it. Looks like a Rolex, aspires to be a Rolex, probably functions the same way if you’re not worried about dropping seconds here and there.

What sections do they have? “10 Things,” listing fewer than 11 things – in this issue, 10 things you can purchase for Father’s Day. Also “Artbeat” (local artists), “Living Well” (seemingly dedicated to promoting some sort of unscientific quackery masquerading as health treatment every month), “Good Deeds” (people who do good things), “Interiors/Exteriors,” “Debutantes” (Krewes! Mystic Orders! White people!), “Socially Speaking” (Look: photos of rich people!), “In the Garden,” “Profiles & Perspectives” (other content is filed here), “Destinations & Diversions” (more alliteration and ampersands, please), “Cityscapes” (press releases), “Out & About” (weirdly abbreviated events calendar…guess RSVP has a monopoly on this stuff).

Who advertises? Private schools, realty services, various interior design and decor shops and restaurants. Weirdly, the general lack of copy editing seems to have contaminated their advertising – the Nancy Paterson’s ad features the restaurant’s signature (and unbelievably good) strawberry cake with a caption that says “Dive Devine.” Safe to say they meant “Divine?” I hope they didn’t mean “Devein.”

What’s interesting in this issue? The “Living Well” feature on craniosacral therapy caught my eye. It profiles local CT practitioner Foad Araiinejad while providing a helpful introduction to the practice. Writer Jodi Hatley (also the editor of ML) provides us with an entirely uncritical introduction to CT. She tells us that “within the human body there exists an essential rhythm, the craniosacral rhythm, the result from the increase and decrease in the volume of cerebrospinal fluid inside and around the caraniosacral system.” Foad, who Hatley says has the unique ability to help his clients with CT on account of his “Persian heritage” (no explanation of what being Persian might have to do with mastering a practice invented by an American osteopath in the 1930s), evidently figures out where the “natural flow is restricted” and facilitates a “release where the flow is then returned.”

Unfortunately, Hatley doesn’t see fit to provide her readers with any glimpse of the extensive and scientifically based criticism of CT. Which criticism is both extensive and damning. It turns out that CT is quackery on par with spectro-chrome therapy, radionics,  the “Rheostatic Dynamizer,” electropathy, or mechanotherapy – not to mention Reiki, chiropractics, or any of the other dozen things that Foad says he is certified to practice (including “cupping”). It turns out that there is no evidence that CT provides a therapeutic benefit, no evidence that there is cranial bone movement outside of the jaw bones, no evidence that there is a “cranial rhythm” (this turns out to be basically invented by “therapists” and unable to be replicated in double-blind studies) and no evidence that perceived “rhythm” is linked to disease or pain. Of course, it is possible that we here at Lost in Montgomery have a different standard for what counts as “evidence” than ML. In that we remain unconvinced that evidence is the plural of anecdote.

No such skepticism plagues Montgomery Living. They plunge blissfully into the world of fake medical treatments with all skull bones blazing (and, evidently, moving). If you were able to laugh off the earlier Lexus-and-Champagne fetishizing, this attempt to rebrand the placebo effect as medicine should at least give you pause. It is, frankly, shameful that ML doesn’t give any column space at all to the amply documented fact that CL is a MADE UP treatment.

But perhaps this is par for the course. We noticed that in the March issue, ML‘s “Living Well” article is titled: “Anti-Aging Waters: The Fountain of Youth?” The piece is about resveratrol-intensive waters (perhaps it is a coincidence that these same waters were advertised in a subsequent issue?). Resveratrol, in case you’re not glued to the Health section of the New York Times, is that chemical found in red wine said to impede the effects of aging. Speaking of the New York Times, they’ve got an article here that says we should be skeptical of products that claim to deliver the miracle chemical. That is no obstacle to ML, whose “article” simply says that the resveratol in these pricey waters may be more “bio-available” (whatever that means) and ends with a question.

They should rebrand. Montgomery Living: The River Region’s Best Source for Quackery.

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One response to “Free Magazine Review: Montgomery Living (June 2010)

  1. you guys are hilarious! thank you.

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