These are "Reports from the Newsstand," my comments on the publications in our catalogue at We offer sample copies of our publications, not subscriptions. Each sample copy costs $2.59, well below newsstand cover prices (if the publication is available on your newsstand at all). A $2.00 shipping charge is added to each order. Publishers use to get their publications into the hands of potential subscribers.


Ed Rust, proprietor of, has worked in publishing in a variety of capacities for decades. He started as U.S. circulation director of the Financial Times "way back when they flew the papers into Kennedy Airport from London a day late." He most recently was managing editor of publications at the General Society, Sons of the Revolution.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

y'all: The Magazine of Southern People

I've spent an enjoyable hour reading the May-June issue of y'all, a bimonthly that calls itself "The Magazine of Southern People." It's published in Oxford, MS, a town rich in literary history as the home of both the University of Mississippi and William Faulkner.

Now in its fourth year, y'all is light in tone, filled with celebrity news and humor columns. It covers a good deal of the country—15 states—and celebrates the region's cultural heritage.

The issue currently in the newsstand features an extensive section on Mississippi's amazing musical contribution to the country and the world. The list of that state's great musicians is long and rich, and includes Elvis Presley, Leontyne Price, Tammy Wynette, Jerry Lee Lewis, Jimmy Buffett, Faith Hill, Sam Cooke and B.B. King. A fold-out map included with the issue shows the birthplace of more than 100 Mississippi musicians, and is followed by two dozen pages of stories about them.

I liked the tale of how blues master B.B. King came to name all his guitars "Lucille." Back in the winter of 1949, he was playing in a dance hall in Twist, AR. The hall was heated by a burning barrel half-filled with kerosene, and during a performance two men began fighting and knocked the barrel over. Everybody evacuated the blazing building, but King realized he'd left his Gibson acoustic guitar inside and foolishly dashed back to retrieve it. Two people died in the fire, and it turned out that the fight had started over a woman named Lucille. King says he named that guitar Lucille "to remind me never to do a thing like that again."

Other articles in the issue are about stand-up comic Wanda Sykes, cable TV "Flip This House" host Richard Davis, Chicago Tribune and PBS Supreme Court reporter Jan Crawford Greenburg and Outdoor Life Network fishing guru Bill Dance. The magazine reports that Dance has always appeared on camera wearing a University of Tennessee orange baseball cap. There was one exception: at the end of a show in which he had gone dove hunting with Ole Miss football coach John Vaught, Vaught grabbed the cap, threw it on the ground, and shot it three times. Dance was left with nothing to pick up but the cap's bill. Football is a serious thing down there.

On the subject of sports, columnist Ronda Rich bemoans the sale of the Turner South cable channel, which covers all sorts of Southern cultural stories and events, to Fox Sports, which will convert it to some sort of sports channel. While Rich acknowledges the importance of sports—she admits that "knowing about sex gets a man but knowing about sports keeps him"—she sees the loss of a cable channel devoted to things Southern as one more defeat in the battle to preserve the region's distinctiveness.

An annual subscription to y'all (six issues) is $19.95 from the publisher. We'll send you a sample copy for $2.59.


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