You know it's summer when: you're constantly looking around for that cold drink you just set down; it takes more work to concentrate on a first-section newspaper article that requires a jump deeper into the folds; the TV remote and AC controls are your best friends after work; all you want to do is hit the hammock with an armload of trashy mags; the glossy covers on the newsstand cause your eyes to glaze over in a sandy, sun-screened trance of visions of way-horizontal beach chairs and an unlimited supply of literary pieces on celebrities, bands you've never heard of, and big city trends that sound cool ... in a good way. So turn off your fab hip-hop cell phone ring tones. You got plenty of time to put off reading that AP summer text. Dinner plans can wait. The laundry can always wait.
Relax with a few of these magazines. It's your summer, dude. Mute the rest.
MOJO ($8.75) This Brit rock mag continues to outdo itself. The latest issue includes a 28-cut CD of "Instant Garage" classics. You'd pay the cover price alone for the one-two opening punch of Rob Tyner's unedited call to action and a psychedelic nugget from the Electric Prunes. Huge pieces on all things Led Zeppelin, Linda Thompson, and Austin, Texas (plus a great picture of Tift Merritt).
OTHER ($6) Issue One is just out, self titled, "the magazine for people who defy categories." Proclaiming themselves to be the outcasts, whose viewpoints won't be found in The New Yorker or on Fox Network, these SF'ers cover Hedwig, redneck environmentalism, protests in Palestine and gender issues at home. You can even send money to their nonprofit umbrella, the Institute for Unpopular Culture.
THE BELIEVER ($8) Another Bay Area bonus. The latest issue features interviews with "the most dangerous cartoonist in the world," David Rees, author Margot Livesey and singer Liz Phair. Plus the usual great graphic design, bubbling under contributing writers and quirky sidebar essays. First 6,000 copies get a free Laura Owens postcard.
MOVIEMAKING GUIDE ($4.50) Actually, the full title of this Ms. Films spin-off is The Down-and-Dirty, Do-it-Yourself Moviemaking Guide for Film Girls and Video Vixens. Fifty-five pages of filmmaking tips, tech talk, resources and filmography. This Niku Arbabi labor-of-love would cost three times as much if it were a book! Arbabi's mission is direct, "Now get out there and make your own movie!"
Or in our "summer languor mode," get out there and get a refill of sweet tea, another pile of indispensable reading material, and make a list of what you're going to get out there and do.
John Valentine can be reached at email@example.com