I just read an article by Adam Gopnik in the New Yorker Magazine (April 22) reviewing 125 years of the magazine in the yellow border; The National Geographic.
Like so many other people, the magazine is connected to my childhood memories. Though not, as urban legend has it, as a source of first glimpses of female breasts of native women! Gopnik debunks this myth of the children eagerly waiting beside the mailbox for the magazine. There WERE such photos but they were very infrequent.
Even though I was only subscribed to it for three years, I had access to it in different forms for many years. Odd facts have stuck in my mind, from important ones (the Leakey family and the discoveries of the human origins) to trivial ones (“Oh! The name Mercedes existed as a woman’s name before the car”)! The fact that Humpack Whales are the ones that sing is firmly lodged in my brain as I will never forget the excitement of receiving an issue of the magazine with a detachable mini record (!!!) to hear the whales sing.
In the long term, for me, the magazine had a problem of its never changing format. There was something similair, perhaps a formula, that I got somewhat tired of. Today I prefer watching the National Geographic on television and subscribing to the New Yorker Magazine. The New Yorker lacks the stunning (absolutely!) photographs but takes me to far corners of the world, tells me of discoveries I have never heard of, then mixes it up with current events and literature in an ever changing format.
However, I believe I would not have been interested in taking those journeys with my current magazine if I haven’t grown up with used to a magazine being a gateway to fascinating things.