July 30, 2008

Review of Say magazine

At the annual convention of the National Indian Gaming Associaion (NIGA) in April, I picked up a copy of Say magazine. It's published by Leslie Lounsbury out of Reno, Nevada, and is presumably Native-owned and -operated. Its goal is to "celebrate the successes of our Native American people."

The issue I got was the Fall 2007 issue, the second issue published. Here's what I thought.

The layouts and graphics were very nice. They're on a par with what you might see in any fashion magazine or other trendy publication. No problem there.

The articles are mostly lite profiles or Q&As--the type you might see on a half-page of People or Entertainment Weekly or Cosmopolitan. You pretty much forget them the moment you finish reading them.

The subjects are the usual suspects profiled in Native publications:

Adam Beach
Douglas Miles
Notah Begay III
The Baker twins
Charlie Hill
Tom Bee
Keith Secola

The only names a regular reader of Native news might not recognize are:

Eli Secody (musician)
Ross Anderson (skier)
Hank Cheyne (actor)

I expect an upcoming issue to feature Chris Eyre, Irene Bedard, Joba Chamberlain, Wes Studi, Joanne Shenandoah, Jacoby Ellsbury, Robert Mirabal, Drew Lacapa, and Brulé--i.e., more Native actors, singers, performers, and athletes. More of the people who already get their fair share of publicity.

I don't expect upcoming issues to feature Native teachers, lawyers, doctors, engineers, plumbers, cosmeticians, or dog-walkers. Why not? Because their successes aren't as interesting or inspiring.

Uplifting words of wisdom

Say is the kind of magazine where everyone has a life-affirming philosophy to share:

  • "Be the best you can be." (Adam Beach)

  • "Become a little bit better every day and strive for your potential." (Notah Begay III)

  • "Carry your heritage with a rightful pride and dignity." (Ross Anderson)

  • "Motivate and just improve yourself to be better for yourself." (Eli Secody)

  • "Follow your heart and leave a wake of peace behind you." (Hank Cheyne)

  • "Do more, feel better, live longer." (GlaxoSmithKline)

  • "Be all you can be." (US Army)

  • "Supremecy, Racism, Sexism...who gives a fuck?" (Sheena Wassegijig)

  • (Oops, the last three mottos weren't in Say magazine, although Ms. Wassegijig uttered hers here. My bad.)

    A few articles taken from websites round out the issue. I'd be curious to know if Lounsbury got permission to use the texts. I hope she did, but I fear she didn't.

    Summing it up:  If you were in a doctor's office, you'd probably read Say magazine. If you were browsing a newsstand, you probably wouldn't pay $4.95 for it. You definitely wouldn't subscribe to it at the exorbitant rate of $87.95 for 12 issues.

    P.S. The logo is a bit stereotypical too. It wouldn't have been my first choice. But never mind.


    writerfella said...

    Writerfella here --
    The same question can be asked of other 'usual suspects,' such as N. Scott Momaday, Russell Means, Graham Greene, Tantoo Cardinale, Vine Deloria, Chief Dan George, Eddie Little Sky, Will Sampson, and the USS Sherman Alexie. Such known and visible Natives remain the known and the visible because of recognition factors, as few perusers would bother to read about Native lawyers or teachers or doctors or engineers because they are the unknown and the invisible. Recognizability, popularity, and even notoriety (no matter the race) sells in American society whereas those unknown and invisible Natives who seek and succeed at ordinary everyday life and propriety always will outnumber the known and the visible. Those proper souls never will influence magazine or newspaper sales and it truly seems a laissez-faire situation...
    All Best
    Russ Bates

    writerfella said...

    Writerfella here --
    POSTSCRIPTUM -- And yes, writerfella knows that many of the 'usual suspects' he named are dead. It should be apparent that writerfella indicates that the syndrome in Rob's post merely is NOT a symptom of the 21st Century but in fact has been occurring through time...
    All Best
    Russ Bates