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.

Friday, March 02, 2007

YRB: City Vibes and Threads

YRB is an exceptionally well put-together bimonthly aimed squarely at the street-smart urban sophisticate who's into rock music and clubs and worries about the right threads to wear to those clubs. It's edited in the basement of 480 Broadway in Manhattan's trendy SoHo district.

YRB's origins are at Yellow Rat Bastard, a clothing store at the same Broadway address. That curious name comes from a particularly slimy character in Sin City, the graphic novel by Frank Miller later made into a memorable motion picture with Mickey Rourke, Bruce Willis and Jessica Alba. As explains, "the parent store spawned baby rats and the YRB store catalogue, magazine and website were born." Don't worry, it's several blocks away from the infamous rat-infested Taco Bell.

Issue No. 72 of YRB, identified as the "Spring Preview" issue, has just arrived at the newsstand. From my grazing through Issue 72, I've saved the best for first. It's the opening Jump Off section, which identifies trends, products and technology of interest to young urbanites.

That's where I learned about the "nap helmet," a fascinating Japanese invention perfect for the weary subway rider. It's a hard hat with a suction cup on a stick projecting from behind. If you're lucky enough to find a window seat on the train, you suction yourself to the window, and can then nod off without fear of knocking your noggin against the window or falling onto the shoulder of your neighbor. There's a placard on the front of the nap helmet for you to write your stop, so if you believe in the kindness of strangers, you'll be awakened in time to get off.

The other technological marvel that intrigued me comes from Germany. You've probably heard of spray-on hair for that bald spot. This is a spray-on condom. As YRB instructs, "insert the given organ into the aerosol can, push the button, and presto chango, you're covered. Literally." The magazine notes that the product is still in development, and warns that the aerosol can won't fit into your wallet.

Once you get past the Jump Off section, YRB is mostly clothes and music, with attention also paid to television, movies, video games and other entertainment.

The clothing is casual and colorful, with a strong hip-hop influence. Design inspirations include graffiti, Andy Warhol and Keith Haring. There are jumpsuits from Holland, a skateboard-influenced line from England, and some very short skirts.

The featured bands in the issue are My Chemical Romance (the cover story) and Good Charlotte. I learned from Tim Brodhagan's profile of My Chemical Romance that the group enjoyed early respect and got gigs just because it was from New Jersey, which "has had a near 30-year lock on the American musical scene" because of rock icons like Bruce Springsteen and Bon Jovi.

The article describes Gerald Way, the punk group's lead singer, as "one of the world's most intriguing rock figures of the moment." Way is certainly quotable. For instance, he explains that "a lot of the reason that the lyrics are about death is because being in your early twenties in New Jersey is a lot like feeling dead."

The Jersey theme carries over to a story about rap artist Aliaune "Akon" Thiam, born in Senegal and raised in the mean streets and housing projects of Jersey City. After a three-year prison term for grand theft auto, Akon has become a star at 25, and gave his interview to YRB's George Hagan in his chauffeur-driven black Escalade as it whispered down Eighth Avenue.

There's a feature on the 10 fastest cars on the planet, such as the 1,001-horsepower Bugatti Veyron that will gulp its entire gas tank in 12 minutes when you're driving it at 250 mph, which means you're not on Eighth Avenue.

YRB is a treat just for the photography and art design. The cover has an interesting matte (non-glossy) finish that makes it stand out on a crowded news rack.

An annual subscription (six issues) to YRB is an amazing $9.00 from the publisher. You can get a sample copy from us for $2.59.

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