Fads

The current issue of Topic Magazine is devoted to fads, past and present.

In it, Ben Ehrenreich reminisces about his days as a Grateful Dead fan:

…. Like a brief, intense love affair long past, I find this passion nearly inexplicable now, almost opaque. It is the mandate, though, of the Christian sages and the elders of pop-shrinkdom alike that to be reconciled with either God or Self, we must unearth our buried sins and seek not only forgiveness but the strength to forgive. So let us travel back together and wonder with open hearts at this slender boy of 18 years, shirtless, a tie-dyed teeshirt stuffed into the back pocket of his tattered jeans, his acned shoulders burned by the sun, his pupils swollen the size of dimes, synapses blasted open in lysergic bliss, head bobbing like a metronome to that most monotonous of tunes, “Terrapin Station,” as countless thousands of tie-dyed others bob alongside, swaying and wriggling rhythmless in a stadium-wide hippie shuffle.

How did he get here? Just a few months before he – forget the ruse, I – could be found wrapped in a thrift-store overcoat, pockets bristling with paperbacks of Nietzsche, Dostoevsky and Sartre.

(Be sure to take a look at the illustration of the different circles of Grateful Dead fandom hell, at the bottom of the page.)

Peter Dickinson expresses concern about the faddish popularity in Ukraine of “CCCP branding,” which he sees as a by-product of the nation’s troubled present. Andrei Kurkov, on the other hand, argues that Ukrainian fads don’t exist. The debate continues in a special online piece.

Also in this issue: Brazilian writer Patrícia Melothe says the perfect body is the newest worldwide pathology; Peter Bazalgette, the inventor of Big Brother, is interviewed; and Ocean Howell (can my name be “Ocean” now?) talks about skateboarding and the marketing of the sport.

So far every article has been worth reading, and I haven’t even dipped into the archives. Some of the latest issue, including pieces by T.C. Boyle and Arianna Huffington, can only be read in the print edition. I plan to get my hands on it as soon as possible.


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