Thursday, July 29, 2010

Dear Readymade: We're Breaking Up


My Dearest Readymade,

I am afraid that our near decade-long romance ends here. When we met back in 2002 at checkout stand no. 7 of The Berkeley Bowl, I found your charms irresistible. Unlike Punk Planet and those other hip, low circulation periodicals that you sat amongst (and that I read feverishly at the store but never purchased), you possessed a certain je ne sais quoi that compelled me to take you home with me month after month. Was it the fact that you took your name from a Duchamp-coined word, or that you were published in Berkeley by two women entrepreneurs, or that I discovered amidst your stylish pages a heady and original mix of DIY projects that I (or my more evolved friends) could recreate after a quick trip to the local recyclery or reuse depot? The answer is 'yes' in every instance. But now, mon cherie, I find you rather dull and unfocused. On one page you're telling me how to enjoy heirloom tomatoes a la Vegetarian Times, and on the next you're showing me pictures of standard-issue 'tiny but trendy' living spaces a la Apartment Therapy. This thematic schizophrenia is still more apparent in the insipid blog tutorials that you've begun to merely abstract and republish a la Reader's Digest. (That you would actually waste paper to rehearse a blog post on DIY haircuts in which the most sage advice is to 'pay careful attention at your next professional haircut' and then to 'watch haircutting tutorials on YouTube' is really beyond me.) I'm also concerned that you've become something of a handmaiden for Etsy, which I love, but which I get for free on my computer.

I know that you are, in part, a victim of your own success, dear Readymade. Because of you, more people are doing-it-themselves--an ethos that, thanks to the Internet, now includes publishing, too. Consequently, I suspect that it's somewhat difficult to find contributers who'd prefer the stability of print publicity to the ease and accessibility of push-button publishing. I also understand that the 2009 relocation of your offices from Berkeley to Des Moines, IA completely up-ended your staff, and that producing a decidedly West Coast publication in the Middle West must be...problematic. (As a one-time Berkeley-to-Iowa transplant, I understand this more than you will ever know.)

I want you to know that I don't fault you, Readymade, and that I will cherish the fine years we spent together, you and me. I wish you the best, and hope that you will succeed among your new audience of subscribers, which, tellingly, includes my mother.

Team Huzzah!


buttercup caren said...

I love that you just blogged my thoughts. It's hard to give up my Readymade love affair, but I too, ended things. Breaking up is hard to do, specially with a magazine. *sigh*

geschichtenvonkat said...

i've been feeling the same sad, but true. and you said it so well.

Amanda / Rust Belt Threads said...

I broke up with Readymade last year. One "how to" I remember was how to contain quarters. I was like really? People having too many quarters is a problem? Don't these people own jars or a wine jug? All these quarters are over taking my life!

Somewhere in my apt there is a stack of old RMs, but I think I'm just keeping them around to try the new cocktail recipes.

jennif said...

if i ever need to breakup with someone, leave my place of employment, quit my gym membership, etc... can you do it for me?

great post! ;]

Mother Midnight Vintage said...

i had a similar break up with Bitch Magazine many moons ago... always brings a tear to think of losing your connection with a perfectly guilty pleasure.
and Amanda, I will take those peoples quarters off their hands any day!

Adriane said...

I agree, too. I remember finding a wrinkled up copy of RM a few years ago underneath one of my hippest friend's hip couch. It had a tutorial about building your own sofa, and I was smitten. When Amazon ran a special recently to get a subscription for $6, I jumped for joy and signed up. Um, yeah. Sometimes there are some useful things, but nothing that I haven't seen in other places. Sad. Thank goodness for Believer Magazine. They remain a rock for people like me who dork out to literary loveliness.

Mother Midnight Vintage said...

p.s.) i also love your "bank robber" photo... must think of a suitable pseudonym... the "Berkeley Bandit" just seems too benign for a woman of your notoriety.

D R E W said...

i broke up with readymade, too. it's lame now that they moved to iowa. it used to have an edge, and now it's just like any other magazine. meh.

Andrew Wagner said...

Thanks for taking the time to write about ReadyMade and we'll be sad to see you go. However, we must, of course, respectfully disagree with your assessment. You are correct, we aren't the ReadyMade you first picked up in 2002 but how you would classify an article like "It's a Wild Wild Life" in our August/September issue or "Macgyver Your Makeup" from that same issue as "standard-issue" is a bit confounding. And as far as your claim of "thematic schizophrenia" goes, we've always (even way back in 2002) striven to represent makers across the board - whether that is someone starting their own business or band, building their own green roof for their dog house or simply cooking up dinner that evening. ReadyMade is and has always been about Doing It Yourself in every aspect of life.

Thanks again for taking the time to write and for your years of support. I sincerely mean that and I do hope that you'll pick us up from time to time and take a look at what we're doing and maybe let us know what you think. While we may not be based in that counter-cultural capital of the world, Berkeley (I'm a northern Californian myself, so am all too familiar with the Bay Area's tiresome tendency to consider itself superior to the rest of the country, if not the world), but we are always working on some pretty damn cool things regardless of where we find ourselves and have some amazing things up our sleeves in the next few months.

Huzzah! Vintage said...

Hi, Andrew. What a pleasant shock and surprise to find your comments here this morning. This gives me hope that Spike TV will someday respond to my open letter about MANswers.

I'm afraid that I don't have anything to add or revise from my initial comments, except this: If ReadyMade were merely a blog, I'd be very inclined to continue reading (and, in fact, do scroll through its associated blogs with delight on occasion). With the explosion of online DIY blogs and magazines (which constitute a fair portion of my daily light reading), I simply demand something else now from my print subscriptions--something that can be defined in the simplest terms as 'truly original and relevant content that I can't access anywhere else.' If I can find the content (or some derivation of it online), I'm not particularly inclined to pay for the pleasure of reading it in print, too. My nostalgia for print culture and my love of material objects do have their limits, especially in this economy.

My mother, who I mentioned at the close of my post, doesn't spend much time online and continues to find ReadyMade's content both original and interesting. When I go home and flip through her copies while she and my father watch Glenn Beck, I find the pages endlessly dog-eared in much the same way that my earliest copies were. Her love affair with you is just beginning. (Yet another reason why ours must end, I'm afraid.)


ps: I'd be compelled to respond to your sniping comment about the Bay Area except that I recall issuing similar pronouncements during my sojourn in Iowa. It was among the many polite fictions I crafted to stay sane while searching in vain for proper sourdough.

Andrew Wagner said...


Thanks for writing back. I hear you on the online vs. print stuff. However, almost everything we do is completely original to ReadyMade and you won't find it anywhere online unless at There is some back and forth of course but we definitely fall in with your line of thinking: we want our print products (both those we make and those we consume) to be unique.

In regard to the Bay Area, I've lived a lot of places (including growing up in Davis and living in San Francisco for close to 12 years) and all I can say is there is A LOT of creativity out there - and much of it more inspiring that anything I've ever seen in the Bay Area (Detroit is one of the most exciting cities in terms of culture I've ever had the pleasure of visiting for instance).

- Andrew

Huzzah! Vintage said...

creativity, yes...but proper sourdough? c'mon!

also, just to clarify, I did not mean to suggest that good, cool, ethical, eco, progressive, etc. things cannot come out of Iowa, but that ReadyMade was originally bathed in a decidedly East Bay ortgeist, and that said geist has since faded (regrettably).

thanks again for responding, and Go Hawkeyes!

Sarah said...

I couldn't agree more.

pineapplemint said...

You've put it more eloquently than I did. Upon receiving the most recent issue, I threw it on the floor and exclaimed, "I'm not renewing my subscription! This magazine is shit!"

pineapplemint said...

PS - I really like Iowa.

P U R P L E - D E E R said...

G...I heart you..."creativity, yes...but proper sourdough? c'mon!"