You learn something every day, don’t you? That’s what they say. But some nights, in that weary moment after turning out the light and knowing, yet again, it’s too near morning to get enough beauty sleep, you think of what you actually learned that day, and nothing much comes to mind. That’s forgivable if you’re anything like me because by then you’re already asleep.
Tonight will be different. It’s already different and it’s only lunchtime. This morning I learned about mag nation. It wasn’t the first time I’d seen the black and silver sign outside the door at 88 Elizabeth Street, Melbourne. But my literally passing thought was that it was probably a hairdressing salon and they’d had a little difficulty spelling ‘imagination’. Hairdressers seem to be blessed with imagination for coming up with quirky names, though I’m still not too sure about the one called Nitsa’s, despite the salon being at the cutting edge of the trade. Happy with my own shearer, I’d not even looked in Magnation’s picture windows — until today.
This morning the media-minded group I belong to decided to pay them a visit. For reasons already given, it was quite a surprise to stop below this black and silver sign and find the establishment looking nothing like a beauty salon.
A passer-by giving a hurried glance through the door or window, and catching sight of a wall of magazines, might think it was a newsagent oddly bereft of Tatts and Herald Sun. But I know better now.
This little shop is amazing. For a start it isn’t little. And nor is it the only outlet. You’ll find its siblings in Fitzroy and Prahran, as well as interstate and overseas. In Elizabeth Street the ground floor runs back beyond the counter like the Hudson’s coffee shop next door, and every wall is lined with magazines — beautiful, glossy, printy-scented magazines on every theme you could imagine – and some you never would – beautifully displayed on every wall. Walk up the stairs and there are more again, a myriad of topics in all shapes and sizes, elegantly banked around you, surrounding you with their shiny, smiling typefaces, begging to be read. Up we go to another floor, and still there’s more: magazines on travel, winter sports and summer sailing in seriously classy boats, and behind you is the world of yesterday, archaeology, historic disasters, and psychics who can see the next one coming. That’s the spirit of mag nation. As our media mentor had assured us, ‘There’s a magazine for everyone’, and she wasn’t wrong.
Up there in the gods is a welcome couch on which to meditate with Minerva or your monthly horoscope. Close by, in a corner of the room, a dozen colourful milk crates are stacked with back copies at bargain prices. I rummaged and riffled and retrieved exactly what I’d hoped to find. What I learned today was that no matter what they tell you about the digital revolution, print and international magazines are far from a passing fancy.