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Backroad Ramblings: Magazine Addiction

Friday, April 8, 2011
Magazine addiction
From casual perusal to focused reading, magazines are still cluttering up our contributor's house despite an increase in web-based publications.
In a cruel case of irony or perhaps poetic justice, it’s interesting that I - a man who spends most of his time crafting tales on the paperless Internet - am a self-admitted magazine junkie. Always have been. I remember back in junior high school when a driver’s license wasn’t even a possibility for several more years, yet I carried around a bundle of car magazines from which to remove pictures for the purpose of decorating the interior of my locker space.

Try as I may to forget this odd fact, I seem to recall passing over pages of Ferraris and Lamborghinis in favor of a photo of a yellow Geo Storm and feather-haired female driver smiling through a pair of neon Oakley Frogskins. Poor taste aside, the trend had already been engrained.

As I got a little older (and wiser I like to think) my scope of obsession widened to include motorcycles, motocross racing, ATVs, snowmobiling, mountain biking, traveling and flying, and as fate would have it so too did my magazine collection grow to include these interests.

The child of parents who didn’t share my passion for such material things, it was a constant struggle in storing my poor glossy mags. I would do my best to adhere to the creative storage solutions presented to me: Shelves, bins, totes, and filing cabinets, but inevitably the constant influx of new reading material resulted in classic pieces of literature being hauled from the curb on garbage day.

The most painful of these situations were the times when I only discovered what had happened while trying to look up a crucial fact only to find an empty spot where the magazine had been. In retribution for the outrageous parental act of removing clutter from the house, I would often stage an epic silent-treatment protest. Sometimes it would last multiple hours before I would give in and speak. Usually, however, the protest ended when my interests changed to something I still had an article about.

Rokon Trailblazer
Classified print ads are fun to browse through and can inspire some interesting purchases, like this Rokon Trailblazer.
I suppose that’s the benefit of having no cash or actual means of purchasing anything - you can change your ambitions on a whim. What’s particularly interesting, to me anyway, is that accompanying all of these glossy magazines at just about the time I had a job scrubbing pots and pans, was the added bulk of smeary-ink classified ads.

While friends assure me that print ads still exist even to this day, I remember all too clearly those pre-Craigslist and eBay days when shopping for nearly anything consisted of visiting a showroom or a chance roadside encounter.

When I first got into motorcycling, which happened just prior to getting my license to operate an automobile, I recall having one of the widest ranges of potential target bikes the world has ever witnessed. A chance discovery of one such tattered and torn Swap Sheet circa 1993 revealed my having carefully selected and circled ads for everything from a then-new V-Twin Suzuki Intruder to a Yamaha FZR600, from a 1972 Rokon Trailblazer to some custom built trike powered by a diesel tractor engine. Evidently, factors such as size, durability and street legality were of little concern to me.

I even remember test-riding a nameless moped which the owner assured me would fire-up if I pedaled hard enough. After several sweat-inducing passes up and down the narrow lane without so much as a sputter, I left what may have actually been the world’s heaviest bicycle for the next eager classified ad hunter.

The funny thing is, while technology has certainly changed the way many of us seek out potential deals (and unload machines that have out-lived their worth), some things are just as they were back then. The Internet may have done away with the bulk of paper classifieds and given birth to the channel by which ramblings of yours truly can be shared the world over, but piles of magazines devoted to precisely the same subjects still find their way into my mailbox. Only, these days I’m not entirely sure my wife notices when I stage a silent protest for throwing away one of my back-issues.
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