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Denison Magazine opens its spring issue with an eight-page art show (which I’d sample were it online yet). For the school’s annual TUTTI Original Works Festival, students of printmaking created art to accompany new music compositions. Denison reproduced some of the prints with comments from the printmaking students and the composers. All of this appears before the TOC, as has been the magazine’s custom for a while now. Nice.

Other magazines have stolen picked up on Denison‘s idea of placing the cover story in the very front of the book, starting on the inside front cover. Looking at you, Pomona College Magazine

cover   face2   face3

And while I’m amusing myself at Pomona‘s expense, look at this picture, from the same issue, of campus. Who would not want to go to school there?



If you’re looking for a way to give a VP for Communications the jitters, propose a straightforward story about the lack of progress your school has made in dealing with racism. I don’t know what sort of conversation editor Norman Boucher might have had prior to starting work on Brown Alumni Magazine‘s cover story, but he must have gotten the right people to sign off. “‘We’re Supposed to Be Better Than This,’” coauthored by Boucher and Louise Sloan, examines in detail the Brown president’s new action plan to deal with problems first brought to the fore in 1968. The piece includes a timeline, sprawled across two pages, that lists all the demonstrations and protests over the years, the statements from senior administration about how they recognize the problem and are taking action, and then more protests when too little changes. I give credit to both the magazine and the university. And I love the bold cover line: “Diversity Now: After nearly 50 years of student protests and half-met promises, will the University get it right this time?”

brewThe craze for beer stories continues unabated. Newest entry: “Brewing for Success” from Lift, the magazine of Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University.

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I’ve been catching up on the 14-inch stack of university magazines that has arisen in my office, in anticipation of CASEpalooza 2016, formally known as the Editors Forum, to be held this year in San Antonio. Here are some things that caught my attention.

gwspreadThe Fall 2015 issue of GW Magazine, out of George Washington University, includes a piece adapted from Creatures of a Day: And Other Tales of Psychology, by Irvin D. Yalom. How’s this for a lead:

While on a month-long writing retreat in Hawaii, I was shocked to receive this email from my patient Ellie:

Hello Irv,

I’m sorry I’ll have to say goodbye this way, not in person. My symptoms got a lot worse a week or so ago and I decided to do a process of VSED (voluntarily stopping eating and drinking) in order to die faster and with less suffering. I haven’t drunk anything for over 72 hours now and should (according to what I have read and been told) start “fading” soon, and die within a couple weeks at most. I’ve also stopped my chemotherapy. Goodbye Irv.

The story is pungently titled “Get Your Own Damn Fatal Illness: Homage to Ellie,” and you should read it here.

Interesting TOC from Law Quadrangle, published by the University of Michigan School of Law, from an issue devoted to entertainment law:


New Trail, from the University of Alberta, has a beer column! How good is that? Another reason to consider moving to Canada. (The first two are Donald Trump and Ted Cruz.)

Okay, UT Dallas Magazine, if you’re going to  shoot a takeoff from The Beatles’ Abbey Road for your Fall 2015 cover, the strider second from left has to be barefoot. C’mon, know your rock ‘n’ roll history. (“Sweartagodman, I heard it means Paul is dead. Like he had an accident or something.”)


The “Late Fall 2015” edition—love that designation; hell, most all issues of Johns Hopkins Magazine are late—of Monmouth University Magazine includes a tipped in 2016 calendar—12 months of campus calendar photography stapled into the center of the issue. Never seen that before.

Not just a redesign, but a rare renaming. Minnesota is now Minnesota Alumni.

minnesota      minne2

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The latest issue of HBS Alumni Bulletin, from the Harvard Business School, has 60 pages of editorial and 166 pages of class notes. Yikes. It also has an interesting feature on alumni failure (“The F Word“), not your usual umag fare, and a bitchin’ cover:


Not sure how photographer Adam Fenster did this for Rochester Review, but I like it:


Gonzaga has had some work done.

gonzagold  gongaznew

I will always maintain that babies are cheating. That is, pictures of cute babies and toddlers are too easy as a device for drawing readers to your pages. But I will say this — if you are going to cheat, this is how you do it. Observe this spread from the current issue of Portland, courtesy of Brian Doyle, who delights in sending me a note anytime he violates this edict. Just look at that kid. That is so cheating, Doyle. (And you so have to click on the image to view it larger.)


On the other hand, pussycats are not cheating, not at all. Thank you, Ann Wiens at Oregon Quarterly:


By the way, the story that image points to, “Got Their Backs” by Brandi M. Gardner, is worth your attention.

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cover_2 copyDigging through the tottering stack, your intrepid umagazinologist liked this cover very much, from Wellesley. So you know, that’s a red knot. (Go ahead and click the bird. You know you want to.)

Auburn Magazine had my favorite bio-in-the-deck, for profile subject Cynthia Hill: Walmart pharmacist and Peabody Award–winning filmmaker. Well, of course. One runs into those every day around here.

TCNJ Magazine from the College of New Jersey does a cool thing with their inside front cover and first page, a recurring bit called Up Front. A recent one reported the answers to the question, “What was your favorite campus concert?” and I will never understand Vanilla Ice outpolling Bruce Springsteen. That’s incomprehensible.


Nice piece from Pomona College Magazine about playwright George C. Wolfe’s contribution to the National Center for Civil and Human Rights in Atlanta. Writer Mark Wood opens this way:

Grab a stool at the old-fashioned lunch counter. Slip on a pair of earphones and press your palms to the hand outlines on the countertop. Close your eyes if you dare. A soothing Southern voice murmurs in your ear, “This your first time, right? So far, so good. You’ll be all right.” But then you hear the mob coming, surrounding you, jeering at you. “Git up!” A vicious jolt as if a ghost has kicked your stool. “If you don’t git up, boy, I’m gonna kill you.” The voice moves around you, so close you can almost feel the breath on your ear. Dishes shatter. Silverware jangles off walls. Sirens rise in the distance. Your stool is jostled again and again as the shouting engulfs you. “Kill him!” “Stomp his face!”

After 90 seconds, the chaos subsides, replaced by a woman’s voice: “What you’ve just experienced was created to honor the brave men and women who participated in the American civil rights sit-in movement.”

Playing on nostalgia for campus does not mapwork for everyone. For example, it is the rare Johns Hopkins University alumnus who looks back at his or her undergraduate years with a warm feeling of “those were the best four years of my life.” Hopkins just isn’t that sort of place. When Johns Hopkins Magazine tried to do a feature story on campus traditions in 2006, we had to scour every division and every campus and still came up so short we made up a few just to fill out the spread. All of which is a long intro to something clever in the Spring ’15 Oregon Quarterly, in which the magazine staff discovers campus plaques they’d never noticed until they starting looking for them, and explains the story behind them. They even lobby for a plaque that doesn’t exist, but ought to.

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Some recently published well-wrought pieces deserve your attention. Melanie Wang, a senior at Harvard, penned “Learning Space,” for Harvard Magazine‘s recurring column “The Undergraduate.” She begins in promising fashion:

I maintain that the foremost reward for returning to Harvard as a senior is to walk through campus knowing where the trashcans are. Forget theses and job searches and the social petri dish. It’s the small victories that are strongest. Being able to absentmindedly deposit an apple core or a muffin wrapper during the half-jog to morning lecture—this is a peculiar, important kind of wisdom.

 Then she follows through with a wry, seasoned essay that is unflaggingly charming. I have flipped it into the UMag flipmag.

warholAnother nicely turned personal essay arrived in Monmouth University Magazine. It’s by Jon Warhol and yes, he’s one of those Warhols—Andy’s great-nephew. Young Jon has a bemused take on his famous relation and what it means to have him in the family tree.

“Are you really related?” Yes. “Have you ever met him?” No. He died in 1987; I was born in 1991.

“Do you have any of his paintings?” No.

“You kinda look like him.” If you say so.

“That’s cool that you are related.” I guess.

My name is Jon Warhol, and the American pop art icon Andy Warhol is my great-uncle. For most of my life I didn’t have an understanding of Andy’s importance, or the origins of the Warhol family. It wasn’t until recently when I sat down with my father John and my uncle Mark that I felt an appreciation for the family name and history. To better understand Andy, and Warhols in general, you must first know the name’s origin and where our people come from.

“Warhols are unnatural. We’re not a natural thing,” my father John says.

My uncle Mark explains, “Warhol is a catch-all phrase meaning an argumentative quarrelsome person.”

wpicover-2If you’ve been following the Kickstarter funding and development of Neil Young’s Pono digital music player—ah c’mon, I can’t be the only one here who’s in mourning over Apple discontinuing the iPod classic—you will want to read Kate Silver’s “Righteous Fidelity” in the summer issue of WPI Journal from Worcester Polytechnic Institute. [The link takes you to the epub edition of the magazine. One of the drawbacks of alumni magazines posted online this way is I can’t place the stories in the flipmag.]

Speaking of that Flipboard publication, there are a few more new pieces:

— “Streams and Echoes,” Tim Page’s nice profile of composer Chou Wen-chung in the fall issue of Columbia Magazine.

— “Inside the Monkey Cage,” pertaining to political scientist John Sides, in GW Magazine from George Washington University.

— Finally, from the University of Texas’ Alcalde, there’s “Through the Unthinkable.”

And with that, ladies and gentleman, it’s past 5 pm on a Friday evening and there’s a gimlet out there with my name on it. I’ll be back soon with a post about the merits of deliberate mistakes and the value of antagonism. I know something about the latter.