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Posts Tagged ‘Magazine

“Sopping, and with no sign of stopping, either- then a breather. Warm again, storm again- what is the norm, again? It’s fine, it’s not, it’s suddenly hot: Boom, crash, lightning flash!”*…

 

Farmers Alamanac

 

Americans are highly dependent on weather forecasts. Today, most of us rely on modern technology for predictions about the weather—forecasts based on readings of countless measuring tools, fed into computer models, then analyzed and broadcast or sent straight to our smartphones. But I had other tools of weather prediction, small enough to fit in my backpack: two farmers almanacs. They’ve been around hundreds of years, since before the Civil War, and have survived the advent of modern technology.

Almanacs occupy a special place in the history of weather prediction. In the 1700s and 1800s, scores of publishers printed almanacs, and they were trusted widely enough as a source that Abraham Lincoln once won a murder trial using an almanac as evidence. Today, though, there are easier, more modern, and more scientific—simply, better—ways to tell the weather. Yet The Old Farmer’s Almanac, founded in 1792, is among the longest-running continuously published periodicals in the United States. The Farmers’ Almanac, which began publishing in 1818, is not far behind it. Which led me to wonder: Who still reads farmers almanacs?

As it turns out, a lot of people. The Old Farmer’s Almanac’s editors say it prints and distributes around 3 million copies a year, selling them at retail locations across the U.S. and in Canada. Its parent company, Yankee Publishing Inc., which also publishes Yankee and New Hampshire magazines, and several forms of Almanac-adjacent products like calendars and versions for kids, is profitable, according to its editors. In October, The Old Farmer’s Almanac topped the Boston Globe’s regional bestseller list in paperback nonfiction…

Modern media is a mess and weather prediction remains a crap shoot, but the only kind of publication that combines both—almanacs—are not only surviving, but thriving in the 21st century: “The Surprising Success of America’s Oldest Living Magazine.”

* The Old Farmer’s Almanac

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As we turn the page, we might send cultivated birthday greetings to Sir Joseph Paxton; he was born on this date in 1803.  In 1826, Paxton, a young gardener, began work as Head Gardener to William Cavendish, the 6th Duke of Devonshire, possessor of one of England’s premier gardens on his estate, Chatsworth.

Paxton settled into his job and became the Duke’s right-hand man for projects on the estate.  Paxton noticed the need of a conservatory, so designed and built one: The Great Conservatory at Chatsworth.  Paxton took advantage of the then-recent introduction of the sheet glass method into Britain by Chance Brothers to construct what was, at the time, the largest glass structure in England.  It was lit with twelve thousand lamps when Queen Victoria was driven through it in 1842, and she noted in her diary: “It is the most stupendous and extraordinary creation imaginable.”

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So, when Prince Albert hatched plans for The Great Exhibition of the Works of Industry of all Nations– or the Great Exhibition, as it was more familiarly known– to be held in 1851, Paxton was recruited to design its central building: The Crystal Palace.

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Paxton was knighted, and went on to cultivate the Cavendish banana, the most consumed banana in the Western world, and to serve as a Member of Parliament.

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“I believe in looseness”*…

 

Robert Greene as pictured in the frontispiece to John Dickenson’s Greene in Conceipt (1598)- the only known image of the dramatist, poet, pamphleteer

Known for his debauched lifestyle, his flirtations with criminality, and the sheer volume of his output, the Elizabethan writer Robert Greene was a fascinating figure.  Ed Simon explores the literary merits and bohemian traits of the man who penned the earliest known (and far from flattering) reference to Shakespeare as a playwright: “Robert Greene, the First Bohemian.”

* Willie Nelson

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As we frolic on the fringes, we might recall that it was on this date in 1750 that the first issue of the first college student magazine, Student, or the Oxford and Cambridge Miscellany, was published.

Cover of a 20th century collected reprint

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Written by LW

January 31, 2016 at 1:01 am

So it went…

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In the late 70s, Tony Wilson— who would go on to co-found Factory Records (the seminal independent label that embodied “The Manchester Sound”) and The Hacienda (the warehouse-based club that was the birthplace of the rave)– hosted a tea-time television show called So It Goes.

A weekly arts/culture/music series, the program’s passion was emerging new pop music…  which in those days meant Punk and New Wave.

The Way We Were is a Channel 4 (UK) retrospective first broadcast circa 1984.– a compilation of performances by bands performing on So It Goes– many of them making their TV debuts: Sex Pistols, Clash, Buzzcocks, Iggy Pop, The Fall, Elvis Costello, Blondie, Penetration, Wreckless Eric, Ian Dury, Tom Robinson, Magazine, John Cooper Clarke, XTC and Joy Division…

[TotH to Richard Metzger and his essential Dangerous Minds for the lead to TWWW]

As we slam dance down memory lane, we might recall that it was on this date in 1976– as we in the U.S. were beginning our Bi-Centennial Day celebrations– that the Clash gave their first public performance: they opened for the Sex Pistols at The Black Swan in Sheffield, England.  As U2 guitarist The Edge later wrote, “This wasn’t just entertainment. It was a life-and-death thing….It was the call to wake up, get wise, get angry, get political and get noisy about it.”

The Clash, 1976 (source)

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