I've often said that if I could start my dream magazine, it would be a whole lot like Plazm. Chock full of beautifully reproduced artworks, terrific articles, and innovative design, Plazm is like an extraction of the best elements of the New Yorker and McSweeney's rolled up into one perfect-bound periodical. The only gripe I have, in fact, is that it only comes out once a year, but at times like this, when that moment is upon us, it's very exciting indeed.
Issue #29 hits the streets next week with a launch party at the Ace Hotel that features a ton of cool entertainment (Evolutionary Jass Band, Glass Candy, films by Vanessa Renwick, etc.) and an art show called The End of War, which features local artists like Storm Tharp and Kristan Kennedy. As of press time, the magazine is still at the printers, but I caught a sneak peek at the Plazm offices last week, and it's no stretch to say that this already-impressive magazine has outdone itself again.
"Collective Memory" might not sound like a particularly exciting theme for the magazine, but the editorial team of Jonathan Raymond, Tiffany Lee Brown, and Joshua Berger takes an interesting approach here: "We already have more music, writing, art, and experience piled up than we can possibly deal with, and so much of the fresh news we receive is at best a distraction," they write in the magazine's introduction. "What's worth remembering in an information society? We want wisdom, not information. We want to explore old music, old books, and old photographs, figure out what we care about, and preserve it for those who come later. We want to walk backward into the future."
From there, Plazm #29 moonwalks through secret histories and pauses for artists whose work renews and respects older traditions. There's a long interview with Yoko Ono, aesthetic explorations of meth labs, an incredible pullout poster timelining Portland's rock history, selections from Portlander Tom Robinson's massive photo archive, artwork by Jessica Jackson Hutchins, and much, much more.
With more music, writing, art, and experience piled up than we can possibly deal with, what's the good of a single new magazine? In the case of Plazm #29, it provides a wondrous map of the past, with which we may better see our future.