THAT MAGAZINE: worth looking and looking for?

  • December 21st, 2011

    OCTOBER 2011 — My burning red eye lights upon a small blurb in Monocle Magazine telling me about the existence of an English language publication out of Istanbul, aimed at helping the local community of English speakers to “CONNECT, CREATE, EXPLORE and LIVE GOOD.”

    What! I nearly shout, leaping from my seat, nearly toppling the table.How had THAT MAGAZINE surfaced and yet eluded my grasp? It debuted in December 2010. Being a new father, and somewhat sleep-deprived, it’s understandable, even forgivable that the odd thing slip you by. But as a self-professed man-in-the-know, a print adventurer of sorts, this was inconceivable, as shameful as the CIA gathering intelligence on  the fall of the Berlin Wall from CNN. Four separate issues had been slapped down on cafe tables on either side of the Bosporus and I’d missed them — worse, they’d even graced some of my preferred haunts, hiding out in plain sight.

    DECEMBER, 2011 — Time to get hard-boiled, no? Such an unacceptable situation had to be remedied. Immediately. And after about three, four weeks of phone calls, and missed appointments, excuses (sure, the ink is still drying on the latest issue, I’lI have to wait…) I thought I’d heard it all. Then I trailed the shadowy yet deceptively good-natured editor-in-chief, Simon Johnson, to the Besiktas ferry port.

    SIMON JOHNSON: ISTANBUL MAN OF MYSTERY. EDITOR-IN-CHIEF AND HANDS-ON-DELIVERER.

    Once there, I promptly wrested three out of four issues from him and downed three glasses of hot tea to celebrate, only to be told that I had yet to earn the debut issue.

    Oh really, Johnson?

    Yes, really.

    THREE OUT OF FOUR ISSUES ACQUIRED. BUT THE DEBUT ISSUE , LIKE ITS EDITOR, PROVED SLIPPERY.

    So the question is: was this epic quest worth the effort? Or was the reason that I hadn’t seen THAT MAGAZINE because I’d ignored it, maybe even snubbed it? Perhaps this was a mystery of the subconscious? I had to be sure, so I sat down with the three issues and stared long and hard at them.

    Then I referred to my magazine check list:

    Is it well designed? Yes.

    Does it have impressive photography? Yes. Regular contributor Martin N. Hinze has a great eye for Istanbul’s moody, slightly frayed textures. And a photo essay of bus station counters at the Istanbul Otogar shot by Franz von Bodelschwingh in the summer 2011 issue is as inspired as it is amusing.

    But wait, there’s also illustration, good illustration. LA-based artist Trici Venola’s sketchbook drawings of Istanbul streets definitely deserve more than one look.

    AND AFTER ALL THAT SEARCHING DOES THIS MAG DESERVE A PLACE ON THE COFFEE TABLE?

    Finally, what about well written content? Yes. In fact, I must express my admiration. It’s reason enough to put down the iPad, maybe even leave it at home to charge.

    Since moving to Istanbul some years ago, I’ve encountered a lot of publications with grandiose aspirations that don’t live up to he hype, especially today in the iPad/tablet era when you consider that print magazines are fighting for space in messenger bags everywhere. I’ve even written for a few of the English ones. But most suffered from the same problem. They were either lifeless guidebooks run by people who  couldn’t afford a decent writer or discern what made one, or they were an ad agency/design shop  enterprises that refused to discriminate between editorial and paid advertising.

    This time it’s different. It’s also free, which means it’s snapped up just about as soon as it hits the tables. Now, as a business, would you want to advertise? Absolutely. THAT MAGAZINE reaches a very select audience in key Istanbul locales, picked up by affluent decision-makers and culturally motivated professionals.

    So I’ll be updating you on future issues, as I certainly won’t let them slip by me again.

    Yeah, and what about the debut issue? Well, look what we have here … where did that come from?

    AHA! THE DEBUT ISSUE.

    To have THAT MAGAZINE delivered to your workplace, or to contribute content,  email: dubfield@yahoo.com

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