I haven't watched any American TV in my time here (I've been chilling with Chibi Maruko Chan and Shimura Ken tapes at Hiroko's Place, my favourite Japanese Cafe in SoHo, instead), but I do get glimpses of the American soul. Down here on the subway, for instance, there are kiosks selling American magazines. Not the ones I read (Metropolis, Cabinet, The Onion) but the ones, you know, normal Americans read. People who aren't Eurotrash visiting for biennials.
So today I thought I'd just scan the headlines on some magazine covers I photographed in a kiosk window yesterday, and see what kind of glimpse they provide into the American soul. These are just partial titles and headlines, stacked fragments, shards of a culture. I have no idea who the celebrities are. I try to think of this stuff as Pompeii-style disjecta, and piece together what the culture producing it must be like... and what it'll be like in 2015.
1. Gaming mag: The Outfit: ze Germans vill not easily be defeated.
2. Music mag: The Roots: love them now. Mobb Deep: the sound of revenge.
3. Mothering mag: With two new babies, two movies and a wedding, Mo'Nique has the last laugh. Why weight doesn't weigh her down. Gabrielle: why her marriage failed. Ne-Yo: he's nobody's puppet.
4. Maxim: Looking for trouble? Jamie Lynn Sigler, a soprano to die for. No pain, no gain, The Coach Who Loved to Torture.
5. XXL: Shots fired. Friend killed.
6. Slam: The next big thing: Greg Oden is about to own the game.
7. Men's fashion mag: 400 stylish items guys need for spring. "I'm happy being sexy" meet Alpha Dogs Olivia Wilde. Eminem and Obie Trice talk rehab and getting shot.
8: The Sound: Off the chain! DMX on Jay-Z, Irv Gotti and his own drama. Does the dog still have bite? PLUS: Ice Cube laughs last.
9: Sm? magazine: Winky Wright puts out a hit on the boxing game.
10. The Illest K? mag: Rochelle Aytes rides 'em rough!
11. Vibe Vixen: 141 ways to let your natural beauty shine. Fake dates, how to avoid them.
12. Vibe: Busta: the untold story. Rihanna lathers up.
13. Glamor: The illustrated guide to a great sex life (don't open this on the bus!). The summer cancer warning every woman should read. Your body's most flattering dress, find it, buy it, believe it.
14. All-new Buffie the Body: Love, sex and lingerie issue. Special collector's issue! Win a phone call from Buffie.
15. DO? Witness or snitch. Failure is not an option. The diva's.
16. Ebony: Single, sexy and searching: Top Bachelors of the year. The Hollywood Shuffle: what's behind so many celebrity breakups?
17. Black: Our must-have complete sex guide.
18. Men's Health: 10 ways to grow muscle fast! Look your best ever! 100 instant upgrades. 15 foods that fight fat.
19. FHM: From the lips of Jenny McCarthy: "Devour me like a big bad wolf!" Special report: Ice cold beer, chill warm brews in 32 seconds.
20. Elle: A cut above: how to choose a great plastic surgeon. 35 best organic beauty products.
21. FHM bonus: 100 sexiest women in the world 2006.
22. Vogue: Knightley News: Keira on costars, clubbing & conquering red carpet jitters. Summer's new lengths: bare knees and ankle boots, short sleeves and long lashes. Exclusive: from prisoner to president: Chile's first female leader
23. Cosmopolitan: How to heat up sex: naughty (but easy) tricks to try tonight. Bond with your man in the car, on a date, before work, after a fight. Sexy summer beauty tips. The touches he'll beg for again and again.
24. Vanity Fair: A heartbreaking memoir, Anderson Cooper, the shock of his brother's suicide.
Can we see any themes running through that? How about revenge, disintegrating social bonds, shooting, weight gain, rough sex, muscle, celebrity, surgery, cancer and death, just to get the ball rolling?