Tagged: iowa

Groupies, happy happy happy, Zapped, and freezer magnets

Window, from Western Washington University (edited by Mary Lane Gallagher), has my favorite cover headline of the last several months, for a collection of images of moths:

Thoroughly enjoyed the cover story on the lastest issue of Pomona College Magazine (Mark Kendall, editor) about an epic prank that had remained a mystery for 40 years. In 1975, two math majors at Pomona crafted a large frieze of Frank Zappa out of styrofoam and managed to scale the wall of Bridges Auditorium and hang it alongside the building’s existing friezes of great composers. They did it by climbing to the roof of an adjacent gymnasium and crossing to the auditorium roof on a ladder. I know, I know, their mothers would have killed them. They built the 70-pound, 15 x 5 faux frieze, which included a portrait of Zappa and a marijuana leaf (ah, I’m flashing back . . . ), and hung it over Chopin’s image and name. And until Kendall’s story, they’d never gotten due credit for their work.

Tina Owen and Iowa Alumni Magazine got happy with a happiness theme issue, well illustrated by Serge Bloch. The issue includes a four-page spread of photographs of favorite things around the Iowa campus, which the magazine ran as vertical spreads—that is, you have to turn the magazine on end to view them.

I’m a long-standing fan of e&s out of Caltech (editor is Lori Oliwenstein), in part because of their cleverness with graphic design. The magazine’s current issue has one good spread after another, and I love the issue’s freezer-magnet cover, especially the witty bit in the upper right corner. (Click the image for a better look.)

UMag inbox

On a recent Monday morning, my office mailbox was bulging with 24 magazines, demonstrating that 1) in the department mailroom, The Dale clearly is the big guy, and 2) when I ask UMagazinology readers for something, they respond. This surge in print matter has continued for several days. By the way, the 15th new title to find its way to me was Vanderbilt Medicine, so as promised, Kathy Whitney, if you’re in Atlanta for the Editors Forum, I owe you a drink.

St. Thomas, from the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minnesota (Brian C. Brown, editor), has a striking cover and cover story on engineering professor John Abraham, who took on a climate-change skeptic and ended up in a fight that became nasty in ways that Abraham never anticipated. The cover piece, by Jim Winterer, recounts how Abraham examined the evidence cited by combative critic of climate science Christopher Monckton. After his investigation, Abraham concluded that Monckton was wrong in just about every claim he made, and the St. Thomas professor issued an 83-minute video in which he laid out his case. Not much notice was taken until The Guardian in England picked up the story. Then things got interesting. Monckton was furious. He publicly called Abraham “snake-like,” “deliberately dishonest,” and—this is my favorite and I give St. Thomas marks for publishing it—a “wretched little man” who “only belongs to this half-assed Christian Bible college.” He also called St. Thomas’ president, Father Dennis Dease, a “creep.” Dease good-naturedly noted that this was a first time he’d been lashed with that particular epithet, at least in public. And you thought academic politics on your campus got nasty.

Stories worth a good read? “Rock Stars and Wrestlers,” editor Tina Owen’s conversation with legendary wrestler Dan Gable in Iowa Alumni Magazine (no link because story is behind an alumni association paywall); Jesse Kornbluth’s excellent piece on Senator Al Franken in Harvard Magazine; and from Notre Dame Magazine, Ronald J. Alsop’s “Gotta Have It, Right Now.”

I don’t know how long this has been going on, but Portland has been having some fun with its masthead. Click on the three thumbnails below and pay close attention.

Finally, great cover on the last Swarthmore College Bulletin under Jeff Lott’s stewardship.

UMag inbox, graphic arts edition

I have begun to assemble a cheat list. Babies on your cover are cheating, as already noted perhaps too often. Cute dogs are cheating. In fact, I’m going to expand that one. Adorable animal photographs are cheating. (This will be a real blow to Tina Hay.) But I will exempt the cover of the new Amherst for one reason and one reason only: the nearly impossible challenge of making a hyena cute. (Who’s a cute boy . . . yes, who’s a cute boy . . . you are! . . . yes you are! . . . ow!! . . . let go of my hand!!! . . . no, really, I mean it, I type with that hand . . .) The story, by Geoffrey Giller, is worth your attention, too, even if it does include mention of sampling the bacteria in hyena scent glands. (Hey, can you not see I’m in the middle of lunch here?) Thanks to Giller’s piece, I now know that sometime a lion will steal a hyena’s kill. Hah. You got some nerve calling yourself King of Beasts. Oh, one last thing. Giller also took the photographs for the story, one of which resulted in this great tourist-snapshot, honey-stand-in-front-of-this-for-a-picture caption: “Montgomery leans out of the car for a quick shot with a sleeping lion.” (One last last thing. In this issue, Amherst has 66 pages of class notes. Stunning.)

Must say, I like these spreads from Marriott Alumni Magazine and art director Jon G. Woidka. The first has a clever illustration by Aad Goudappel (and a great bit of headline type wit):

And I love this one—you do know to click on the images, right?—illustrated by the great Serge Bloch:

Finally, love this cover from Iowa Alumni Magazine. Illustration by (the nearly unpronounceable) Miroslaw Pieprzyk, art direction by LeaAnn Henry (whose first name was a dotcom name before she even knew such things would exist).

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First, the Great Whiteout of Fall 2011 continues:

And while we’re talking covers, apparently Dartmouth Medicine and Iowa Alumni Magazine now share color palettes:

St. Thomas had the good sense to devote a feature story to alumnus John Kascht, a remarkable caricaturist who became an editorial cartoonist when he was 14 and wasted no time getting into trouble as a junior high school kid by drawing and passing around a “nun of the month” pinup calendar. Kascht has become so good at what he does, he has 22 pieces in the collection of the National Portrait Gallery in Washington. Writer Doug Hennes did a nice job with the story, but he had a thankless task, providing the text to wrap around six examples of Kascht’s wonderful art.

Dusk is approaching, and from the farmhouse you can see lights on in the second floor of an old chicken coop and horse stable. John Kascht hunches over a drawing table and stares at a blank sheet of paper, surrounded by photos of his subject matter. He deftly swipes a pencil across the paper and looks up to cock his head sideways and stroke his goatee before taking another swipe. He repeats the motion over and over, hardly touching the paper but, swipe by swipe, brings life to the face.

Brian C. Brown edits the magazine.

NYU Alumni Magazine (Jason Hollander, editor) weighs in with an outstanding cover story, Jill Hamburg Coplan’s “When a Woman Loves a Woman.” A case now in the judicial system, Windsor v. United States, may prove to be the landmark case for the civil rights of gay Americans. The “Windsor” is Edith Windsor, an NYU graduate who met her partner, Thea Clara Spyer, in 1963, married her in Toronto in 2007, and after she died in 2009 filed suit the next year to challenge the constitutionality of the federal Defense of Marriage Act that forbids exemption from estate taxes for gay marriages. When Windsor had to pay, out of her savings, $363,053 in estate taxes that a heterosexual would not have had to pay, she sued. Coplan does a great job of explicating the complex issues at stake, as well as telling Windsor’s story:

“We never dreamed it,” Edie reflects. “We didn’t expect marriage, even 10 years ago, and I never expected I’d be looking at a piece of paper that said ‘Windsor versus United States of America.’ Fighting is very hard—we spend our lives coming out, in different circumstances. We’re never all out, somehow. It takes a lot of guts to stand up and let people know—people you’ve lied to much of your life—that not only are you a lesbian, but you’re a lesbian fighting the United States of America.”

This last item is gratuitous, but I just have to say I love the name of the magazine from Warren Wilson College in North Carolina: Owl & Spade. Just set it right there on the coffee table next to Garden & Gun. I had to ask editor John Bowers how the magazine got its name, and he responded: “The first issue of Owl & Spade was published in October 1924 when Warren Wilson College was the Asheville Farm School. The masthead read, ‘The Owl and Spade: Dedicated to the Dignity of Manual Labor When Coupled with Brains.'” I love that.

Eight Questions for Tina Owen

Tina Owen of Iowa Alumni Magazine steps up for the questionnaire, and teaches us all a great new derisive term: “pompous gits.”

How long have you been in your job?

Five years.

What has proven to be the most significant thing you had to learn to do that job?

Getting my head around the concepts of alumni and their “relationship” with their alma mater. In England, where I’m from, most people don’t feel this sense of connection or school spirit. Maybe it’s because we don’t have organized, multimillion dollar student sports to foster this feeling; maybe it’s because—at least when I went to university—the government paid most/all of the tuition fees, so there wasn’t this sense of personal investment. Maybe it’s just because we Brits are so reserved! Whatever the reason, I still struggle to understand why so many American alumni care so passionately about their schools. Rah rah . . . huh?

What has been your best experience at the magazine?

Working with an incredible creative team to put out a publication that I’m proud to send to my mum. Interviewing amazing people who BLOW MY MIND with their work in art, science, and a wide range of other subjects. Being challenged and improving as an editor and writer in ways that I could never have imagined.

What has proven to be your biggest frustration?

Readers who demonize us (and the university) for being liberal extremists, when what they really hate is the fact that we don’t hate all the things and people they do. After one less-than-enamored grad called us “liberal pustules,” our art director came up with an image of a Pustule Poster Child. For a while, I had it as my FaceBook profile pic, until I realized that it was visible to the whole world, including alumni and administrators. Other frustrations (oh, I have many), include people who want to capitalize University as a stand-alone word in the middle of a sentence (perhaps not realizing it makes them sound like pompous gits), and people from other disciplines who think that writing and editing are easy and require no skill or experience. Oh, yeah, and office politics. Grrrrrrrrrrrrr.

What part of your magazine never quite satisfies you, despite everybody’s best effort?

All of it! Even though we work wonders with a fairly small staff and budget, and even though we take painstaking efforts, I still dread reading the magazine once it’s actually published. It’s like catching a glance of someone you know extremely well, but from an unusual angle or unflattering perspective—they just don’t look right. It’s like expecting the Mona Lisa and bumping into Picasso’s Dora Maar. Looking at each issue with 20/20 hindsight, I see all the things we did wrong, or at least not well enough. I find consolation by searching for mistakes in big-name publications—like The New York Times just the other day, which referred in its email digest to “ethic groups” when it meant “ethnic groups” (ha!).

What story are you proudest to have published?

The ones that caused some uproar (i.e. challenged people and actually made them think!), so that would be the stories on gay marriage, the medical use of marijuana (including the CASE award-winning smoking pot leaf on the cover), the poems from Guantanamo Bay prisoners, and, of course, the legendary tattoo photo essay.

If you could commission a story from any writer in the world, who would it be?

Anglophile and former Iowa native (but, alas, not a UI grad) Bill Bryson.

If you weren’t an editor, what would your dream job be?

An artist, painting cats and flowers from a seaside studio in Cornwall, England.