Friday, July 22, 2011


I was browsing through the magazine section of a Relay store at a Parisian railway station, thinking I should probably start reading more printed newspaper and magazines. I've always read books and novels on the train, but sometimes it bores me. Yes, I do get bored with books sometimes, especially if the book I had intended to read through the whole journey turned out to be crappy and I've no other reading materials.

I had forgotten how many magazines there are in circulation today. And at any Parisian train stations, given the number of tourists, they always have a whole section dedicated to foreign publications. I was spoilt for choice. I remembered buying a lot of magazines as a kid, and everytime I went to the bookstore I would feel like I was already in the future because in the beginning of June, you can already buy the July issue of any magazine. Now somehow, I felt weird browsing through the magazines. It's like I was revisiting an old hobby.

It's funny how at the forefront of the store they always put the trashy magazines, with headlines ranging from "Which D-list celebrity cheated on her E-list celebrity husband" to "How To Intensify Your Orgasm". And women flock to these magazines like moths to flames. I'm not judging these women because you don't need an intellectual read for a 2-hour train ride. And these magazines cost a mere 1 euro, and with the amount of who-cares crap you can know about your favourite TV star, it's actually value for your money.

And for the guys, they had all kinds of themed magazines, and it's surprising how specific these themes can be. You have "Sports Cars" or "Headphones" or "English Premier League" or "The iPad Magazine" or "Speakers" or "The Hunting Digest" or "The Fisherman's Digest" or even maybe "The Hammer Magazine". You name a masculine tool, I can show you an entire magazine dedicated to it. My knowledge of hammers is limited to "they drive nails into things", and that's about it. So I wonder if these magazines are issued every month because with almost 200 pages per issue, this must mean that there's a HUGE SHITLOAD of things I don't know about hammers. Or maybe hammers have a kinky lifestyle of their own in a parallel universe that you can only discover by buying the magazine. I, for one, don't care about hammers all that much so no thank you.

Since I had a 10-hour train ride, I needed something insightful, with varied topics, not too heavy (like Business Week), not too trashy, not too adult but not too young. And most importantly, not too expensive (all the imported magazines cost quite a penny). After much deliberation, surprisingly I chose GQ France. In other countries, GQ is the magazine with topless women on the cover, and it covers topics like "How To Get Her Off In 10 Steps". But to my surprise, in France they've chosen a completely different route, a lot classier and a lot more French. They put the legendary footballer Michel Platini on the cover and they talk about sportsmen, about stars fallen from grace like Mel Gibson, they interview female politicians and ask them about their lives in a male-dominated world, they had a geography section where they discuss Namibia, they have articles on obscure French cologne brands. They have French footballer Florent Malouda posing for the fashion spreads, making it appealing to the mostly male readers because, although they're not homophobic, seeing effeminate men modelling men clothes doesn't really speak to them.

And it cost 3.50€. So I bought it, and after a 10-hour train ride to the south of France, I reckoned it was a good choice.

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