imomus (imomus) wrote,


Most of the countries I visit have one or two monthly magazines dedicated to Apple Macintosh computers. Being a Mac user, I usually buy a copy of at least one of them. But soon my Mac fan hat is replaced by my cultural anthropologist's hat (a sturdy pith helmet). Because the differences between one country's Mac magazine and another's speak volumes about cultural values.

Last time I checked, Britain had two Mac magazines, MacFormat, a downmarket consumer guide filled with chatty advice on what model of Mac to buy, and MacUser, a cooler, more refined publication targeted to designers and other communication professionals, with a tenuous link to the radical British underground press of the 1970s in the form of a regular column by one-time Oz / NME writer Charles Shaar Murray. (Oh, it seems he quit in 2003.)

Japan, meanwhile, has MacPower. It costs 780 yen a month and is subtitled "Mac creative lifestyle". It's the artiest, least dweeby computer magazine I've ever seen. And although my limited Japanese ability means I don't understand its texts without Hisae's help, this magazine understands me. It's as if someone's sent them a profile of all the things I, personally, like, and they've just stuck them in the magazine. There's a 15-page feature on art bookshops in Tokyo, lushly illustrated with photos of Cow Books, Bonjour Records, Nadiff, On Sundays, and even a couple I've never been to, like Hacnet in Nakameguro (apparently you need an appointment to shop there). Then there are features on the Japanese art scene (nothing to do with computers), animation, music making, video making, reviews of new soft and hardware, an article about chair design, an interview with socially engaged graphic designer Milton Glaser, an interview with Okino Shuya of the Kyoto Jazz Massive, a history of Apple product design, a feature on some tastefully-designed accessories... and a regular column by Konishi of Pizzicato 5 entitled "The Girl Has A Name". A column about girls!

This month's episode is named "A Girl from the North Country" (after the Dylan song) and talks about how attractively artist biographies (including Dylan's autobiography, which Konishi is reading) portray girls. Konishi is also from the north country (Hokkaido), and his column tells us the story of a girl he sees in a sake bar in Sapporo, a girl wearing a red jumper and a short black skirt. She has beautiful legs, and wears simple black high heels, her skin is pale and translucent. She fancies Konishi's friend, but never talks to Konishi. Then one day (his friend can't make it) Konishi speaks to her at the sake bar. They chat until 3am. When they leave, Sapporo is still bright with neon and light powdery snow is falling. The girl puts her hand into Konishi's duffle coat pocket, repeating the phrase "I know everything about you". Then they go to her room and "stay there until morning comes". Right after that there's a 15 page portfolio of photographs called "iPod x Groovisions", culminating in the photo above, a girl sitting on a toilet listening to an iPod with her panties around her ankles.

I mentioned yesterday a new UK Channel 4 series called The IT Crowd, written by Graham Linehan of "Father Ted" fame. You can watch the first episode online. It's not particularly great comedy, but what's interesting is the basic joke: we're in a corporate computer department manned by eunuch-geeks who have no idea what a woman is, run by a woman who has no idea what a computer is. The two worlds just cannot overlap, and the result is farce. Well, here in MacPower they overlap. Is it down to the difference between Britain and Japan, or the difference between Mac users and PC users, or something to do with that magic catch-all phrase "creative lifestyles", a phrase that secretly spells s-e-x to women and men alike?

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