"Nobody goes there anymore," said the great American philosopher Yogi Berra. "It's too crowded." A similar sentiment reigns in the world of print media: Nobody reads any more because there are just too many books, magazines, and Web sites. That's how the coming makeover of Rolling Stone is being reported. Rolling Stone pledges not only to decrease the length of its articles to keep the short-attention-span crowd happy, it boasts a new editor from the world of so-called Lad Mags, who promises to pack even more pictures into the mix.
At the very least, the shift will provide a new opportunity for gripes about the Dumbing of America. Perhaps uber-sophisticate Dave Itzkoff, fresh off a stint at Maxim and a coming-of-age tale about his time at the hottest lad mag of them all, will get a job at the revamped Rolling Stone, thereby setting the stage for his next unconvincing journalistic confession.
Dangers lurk when one tries to become something one is not, as Mariah Carey's film debut in Glitter and Ivy League academic Cornell West's hip-hop career illustrate all too well. Closer to home, Penthouse, once a relatively sedate if unabashed "Magazine of Sex, Politics, and Protest," started its spiral into bankruptcy when it decided to go down market and introduce the hard-core spreads that got it evicted from newsstands. Rolling Stone, famous for its lengthy profiles, interviews, and investigative pieces, may well drown in the shallower waters to which it is swimming.
I'll miss the old version, but that might just be the lament of an old fogey who has time to read 7,000-word features while gleaning a bit of info on today's acts while my baby girl sits glued to her Baby Mozart DVD.