From time to time my long years of editorial training kick in: I'll see things, or read things, that I want to share with everyone I know (and don't know). That is, in essence, what making a magazine is all about--a large, lusty (or small and refined) shout-out to readers about something that excites, entertains, or educates.
There is one blog I make sure to read every single day--and that is Joe Romm's Climate Progress. I cannot recommend it highly enough; it is an indispensable, reliable, and impassioned source of information about what I think is the biggest problem facing the world today: climate disruption. I'm happy to argue with anyone who wants to complain about what a "downer" so much of this material is. It is urgent that we inform ourselves about the consequences of our actions--and once we know what we are doing, we have a moral imperative to act. There is no good news about how we are harming our environment. The only good news can come out of what we are doing to protect and honor it. For that reason, I cheer on nascent environmental blogs that show personal ways forward, such as Practically Green, and I always learn from EDF's Richard Denison's blog on toxic chemicals.
Lately I've been following three other blogs, and they come at life from radically different perspectives. I've always loved what people in the industry call "general interest" magazines, titles that take a broad, encompassing view of the world for readers who are interested in everything from fashion to design to food to politics.
If SLOW LOVE LIFE could be a magazine (and of course, that is what I push to make it, at least as much as one person can do by herself!) I would be sure to share with my readers the thinking, writing, reporting--and exuberance and extravagance--of these three bloggers (among many others, but today these are my focus; I'll come back to this sort of review from time to time.)
Barry Estabrook used to write for Gourmet magazine. He is an excellent reporter and a devoted lover of food. He has started a blog called Politics of the Plate; his particular slant is on the environmental impact of the food we raise and eat. Last week's post was on a "fish farmer" whose company, Australis Aquaculture, is operating out of a landlocked village in the middle of Western Massachusetts. CEO Joshua Goldman is farming a fish called barramundi; Estabrook carefully explains why this is such a smart, healthy, clean alternative to farming salmon. I'm delighted to see that he has a book coming out next year, Tomatoland, about industrialized tomato agriculture.
Elisabeth Young-Bruehl was my philosophy professor at Wesleyan University in the mid-seventies. She eventually left academia, and went into training to become a psychoanalyst. She built up a practice in New York City, then moved to Toronto to be with her true love. She continues to write--she is the author of several books and many articles, including excellent and authoritative biographies of her great teacher, Hannah Arendt--For Love of the World--and Anna Freud. She has started a terrific, provocative blog called Who's Afraid of Social Democracy. Reading it, I feel I am at the dinner table with her, involved in a free flowing conversation about what's going on in our world today. Her latest post starts out with reading a book at bedtime, Rainbow Rob, to her two and a half year old granddaughter; the book's message, as Elisabeth sees it, is "BE WHO YOU ARE". That gets her thinking about the messages she picked up in her childhood, and that gets her thinking about Carl Paladino. He is, shockingly, the Republican candidate for Governor of the State of New York. She bases her analysis on his written record of sexist, racist exchanges; it is damning--and unnerving to think that someone like this might actually represent the citizens of this, or any, state. See also The Daily Beast's recent post on Paladino by Lloyd Grove. Paladino may seem like a joke, but if voters don't show up to throw him out, New York could be living with a dangerous laughingstock of a governor.
And at the completely other end of the spectrum, because I love indulging in the sensual pleasure of looking at fine things, enjoying great design, luxuriating in the frivolous refinements of high style, there's Stacey Bewkes' Quintessence. This blog covers everything from John Lennon's birthday to Victoire de Castellane's gorgeous jewelery at Christian Dior. Some people will be lucky--and rich--enough to shop from it. For me, it makes for great window shopping. What makes it outstanding in this field is that Stacey doesn't just take a few snaps of gorgeous shoes or sparkling rings. She does the work of giving her readers history, background, social or cultural grounding. In other words, she makes a case for why something is wonderful; her blog achieves brains and beauty, one of my favorite combinations. Do not go here if you get upset when a ring costs more than a house. But if you can suspend disbelief--or want to spend a few moments in the belly of the rampant materialistic beast--by all means, let yourself in for a bout of object lust.