Glossed over

The question, I suppose, is how do you know you’re alive if you didn’t receive any mail today? The answer, of course, is that you don’t. And if you go through more than one day without some company somewhere trying to trick you into giving them money through the U.S. mail, you’ve probably been dead for well over a year.

If you spend all of your money on school, rent, electricity, your cell phone, 19 cent bananas and trail mix and an occasional CD or movie ticket, you may be unable to send yourself items to ensure that your mail carrier stops at your mailbox, confirming your existence. Things cost money, which, as we have seen, you do not have. However, through a careful manipulation of greed you can confirm your existence, with free magazines.

I receive, for free, in approximate order of interest: BlackBook, Giant, The New York Observer, Psychology Today, Razor, Vibe, Charisma (magazine of the red state Bible-banging stereotype, with articles like “The Truth About the Devil” – fascinating), 1 to 1 Magazine, Kiplinger’s Personal Finance, Black Enterprise, Diabetes Forecast, Running Times, Tennis and last and least, Horse Illustrated. Again, these are all free, and soon enough I will receive Vibe Vixen, NewsMax, Tango and Latina as well.

Under “monopoly capitalism,” as some Marxists refer to today’s economy, corporations compete less in the quality of their goods than in their propaganda efforts. Companies spend around $1 trillion per year, roughly one-seventh of our economy, on marketing to potential U.S. consumers. Wherever eyes can see, there is usually some manipulative artwork intent on tricking you into buying one product over its nearly identical counterpart or creating a demand for a product for which there is no desire. There are few limits on these efforts, other than the means to pay for them.

And, to magazines. Magazines have readers, and advertisers pay to reach them (or, rather, vice versa). Through magazines, advertisers hope to reach the maximal amount of disposable income through a certain age range, not necessarily the greatest number of people. As a college student it is assumed that you are within that certain, highly desirable age range. Advertisers assume that the soon-to-be-highly-educated college students are still highly stupid and will spend money on their often-useless products. And once they put their education to use and earn more money, will continue to do so.

So, as a college student, if you’re poor and you’ve been screwed out of receiving federal aid, as you probably have, you should go to, which helps you find and apply for scholarships. While you’re busy never, ever receiving any financial assistance whatsoever from any of those scholarships, spare some time for the e-mails from, a Fastweb sponsor. It is from there that you can receive all of the above magazines, and more, for free – so long as you never, ever subscribe to any of the magazines, and never buy any of the products advertised in them.

From a woman named Elizabeth Wright at Freebizmag, you’ll receive about four offers per week for (usually) one-year subscriptions to occasionally interesting magazines.

The best by far of my free magazine collection is not from, however, but from the new computers on the second floor of the Millar Library. These new computers, barely distinguishable from the old ones, allow pop-ups. On your next visit there, go to the Christian Science Monitor web site and pay attention to its pop-up ads. One will be for The Economist, one of the world’s most important magazines, written for the business interests that run the world and the governments that serve them. This is the inspiration for the design of The Portland Spectator, whose editors, judging from The Spectator’s content, have never read it. And thus, you can receive a four-week subscription to another free magazine.

With your free magazines you can astound and amaze others with your knowledge of often-useless factoids, which, without background knowledge, and ripped from their context, will be all the more useless.

For instance, according to 1 to 1 Magazine, whose purpose is to help businesses maximize profit “through customer relationships,” there are companies that provide a “corporate reputation tracking service.” One, Factiva, searches one million blogs and over 100,000 message boards for “corporate assassins,” people who have a bad experience with a company and “are so upset that they want the world to know about it.” These assassins are “active members of the consumer-to-consumer [C2C] social media ‘channel’ that has become the mainline of brand word-of-mouth.” If you received 1 to 1 Magazine for free, like I do, you would have already known that.

There’s that cliche about the liberal arts, that you learn an awful lot about nothing in particular and spend your time writing unconvincing papers, making arguments you don’t necessarily agree with on topics you care nothing about – skills perfect for a career in advertising, in fact. With your free magazines, you can learn those skills, and do exactly that. For free.