Archive for the 'Teen mags' Category

Rawness Grips the Rock for a SLAM

Dr. James A. Naismith invented basketball in the 1890’s as a game of endurance and fundamentals. Over 100 years later, it has become a culture of coolness. It is a sport much associated with hip-hop and style.

SLAM magazine captures the essence of this ever-growing popularity contest. Published nine times annually, SLAM, has maintained the spunk and attitude that founder and publisher Dennis Page imagined when he created the first issue in 1994. Catering to the young basketball aficionado, SLAM is full of big, in-your-face stories about the latest developments and fashions in the game, with particular attention to the NBA and NCAA.

Though SLAM may seem confrontational and in need of a lesson on table manners, its unique style is what makes it appealing to readers. It lays everything on the table in the basketball world and leaves it open for ridicule and interpretation.

In November’s issue, the story, “The Hall of Shame,” is about the secrecy of the NBA Hall of Fame election process and how fans do not appreciate unknowns making the decisions of who gets in and who is left in the dust. SLAM and the NBA, past and present members, also show their resentment towards the voters.

“Whoever is voting needs to take a look in the mirror and ask if they’re doing right by the game. What we have right now is a mess,” (Oscar “Big O” Robertson, HOF class 1980).

November’s cover boy is the highly-touted freshman O.J. Mayo of the University of Southern California. With Mayo gracing the cover, it reinforces SLAM’s commitment to featuring up-and-coming or bona fide super stars that are making noise in their respective league. Donning USC apparel and standing in front of a white Bentley and art deco-style home complete with the typical So Cal backdrop of palm trees, the bad-tempered and egotistical Mayo also carries on the tradition of the cool and/or bad-boy reputation of his SLAM cover predecessors.

Though SLAM’s writing staff has changed over the years, it has preserved its roots of capturing the rawness of the basketball world. Like it does in the article about the athletically unsuspecting University of Arizona swingman Chase Budinger. “Sure, it’s great to follow your heart and everything, son, but let’s be realistic,” (“Air Bud”). Perhaps SLAM’s most well-known writer is former editor Robert “Scoop” Jackson, who brought his Chicago-bred street wise style of writing and basketball knowledge to the magazine. Jackson and others may have set a standard for the magazine, but its current talent perfects the difficult task of making it appear as if the same writers have been around since day one.

“That home is, of course, Cleveland, where after reaching the NBA finals, the Cavs are now hoping to actually win a ring. With GM Danny Ferry and coach Mike Brown both imported from San Antonio, the Cavaliers are trying to become the Spurs of the Midwest,” (“The Perfect Imperfections of Drew Gooden”).

The magazine’s photography staff accentuates its hard-nosed writing and overall style. The photos really do a professional job of capturing the character of the subject, whether it is a monumental portrait on the life of an NBA superstar or the tooth and nail grinding life journey of a young man escaping poverty in a third world country to play basketball in the states.

The main photo of the article “The Mighty O,” has Brazil’s Oscar Schmidt, the all-time highest scoring player in professional history, captured in the familiar position of shooting over an opponent.The photo’s gritty pixilation coincides with the fact that Schmidt never made it to the NBA.

SLAM stays true to its devotion to hard-hitting tales from the hardwood. As long as there is a young kid dribbling a ball through his legs for hours on end, SLAM will have a place on newsstands.

–Nick Shekeryk

nvsheker@syr.edu

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Vogue Save The Teen

With a strikingly similar blonde bob, Amy Astley looks like Anna Wintour’s little sister in much the same way her youthful magazine, Teen Vogue, models itself after the legendary editor’s polished, big-girl publication, Vogue.

Launched in February 2003, Astley’s Teen Vogue sports many of the same sections as the older publication, such as People Are Talking About, Index Checklist, and Last Look. But where Vogue might showcase a $5,780 green python Bottega Veneta carry-all to its affluent, fashion-obsessed audience, Teen Vogue leads the young ones toward less expensive accessories, like a $168 yellow, patent-leather Michael by Michael Kors over-the-shoulder bag. Granted, both women are probably using their daddy’s American Express Black Card. One just gets a larger allowance than the other.

But even with all the similarities between the related publications, Teen Vogue is a very different style-bible, and the new generation of fashionistas will grow up with a new cast of cool fashion characters. Instead of reading about the grown-up exploits of Vogue’s famous Style Faxer Andre Leon Talley, they will come to love the stylish misadventures of columnist Kimball Hastings, also known as Teen Vogue’s Style Blogger.

“Oh no,” writes Hastings about his attempt to play stylist to an indie-film actress in the current issue. “S.B. completely misjudged the situation. This was no Eliza Doolittle in need of a Harry Higgins.”

Instead of reading about the Upper-East-Side antics of Plum Sykes, Wintour’s former assistant turned Vogue writer, the new generation will log onto the impressive web site teenvogue.com and read the blog of Lauren Conrad, Teen Vogue’s most famous intern. Unfortunately, Conrad’s writing skills don’t quite measure up to Sykes’ just yet. “The internship is a lot more fun than I expected,” mused Conrad in her first blog post. “I thought it was going to be busy office work, but it’s really a lot of exciting work.”

Maybe Astley hopes the teenagers won’t notice a difference.

The success of Teen Vogue has been outstanding, especially considering it landed on newsstands already overflowing with other magazines aimed at teenage girls. But Teen Vogue knew its target audience and found its niche with girls who cared more about “Fall Fashion Special: Prep-School Cool Returns” than “Flirt Like You Mean It” and “Are you Adam Levine’s Type?” These were the same girls that stole their moms’ Chanel bags to wear with their school uniforms, but after the arrival of euro-sized Teen Vogue, they discovered that they didn’t have to steal their moms’ fashion magazines too.

Now, four-and-a-half years later, Teen Vogue has risen to the top of the girl-eat-girl magazine food chain. It has increased its yearly frequency from six issues to 10, and it has doubled its circulation ratebase from 450,000 at its launch to 900,000 now. Its price has also doubled, from $1.50 for the premier issue to $2.99 for the current September 2007 issue. But, really, compared to a pair of $450 Marc by Marc Jacobs oxford-style boots, it’s a virtual steal in the fabulous world of fashion.

– Jennifer Jackson

jnjackso@syr.edu