something to get off my chest / time to give Bust a rest?

This Bustie’s heart no longer beats for Bust

I bought my first issue of Bust Magazine in an unremembered city (possibly Montreal) in the summer of 1998 at a messy and wonderful independent bookstore. I sat at an outdoor café with my sweetheart and read that first issue and thought – this is my magazine.

Either my feminism has become a lot more radical or Bust’s feminism has become a lot more stupid, but my decade of Bust-reading seems like it might end in the sad cancellation of my subscription. This raises so many questions.

What happened?

In our hyper-capitalist culture, could Bust have turned out any different?

Are all cute political feministy zines destined to grow up into slick girly funfeminst fluffballs?

Why must I always hate on my own peeps?

I know if I were to dip a toe into the terrifying waters of the world of mainstream women’s magazines I would run away screaming. But does that mean that all alt-publications are automatically granted a pass just because they are better than Vogue?

Bust no longer lives up to my definition of what a great pop-culturey, hipstery, crafty, full-of-heart feministy magazine could be. I truly don’t know if it changed or I did, or both, and am still glad it exists. I still mark pages and look up websites, and they sure are doing a better job than I could at putting out a widely read ladymag that at least gives lip service to feminism. But 80% of Bust is just so, so fluffy. So many ads, so many gushings over so much shit to buy, and the rhymes. Oh, the rhymes.

Reading Bust through the frightening rhymes is actually a good guide to why the magazines has fallen so far. Shall we take a look at the doggerel disasters in the April/May 2008 issue?

p. 9: “Sippin’ wine and flippin’ hair / with the voice of Heloise and the Savoir Faire.”

p. 11 “Hooray for V-Day!” (OK, it’s a halfsie)

p. 14 “Gramophone zone”

P. 17 “In the 60s, guys made passes at girls in disposable dresses” (yes, this one really only refers to a rhyme, but still)

p. 18 “Do you know everything about the king?”

Is their horrible meter killing you yet? If every subhead MUST be a rhyme (and I know of no law that says it must, but try telling that to Bust – ha!) could we have a little iambic pentameter, please?

p. 19 is a giant ad for the band my sweetheart works with, so that’s all good…

p. 20 “Mean, green, political machine” – thank you for the article on Cynthia McKinney though!

p. 23 “What could be better than a guy in a sweater?

Maybe a Bust

without so much annoying light verse

would be better – a read we could trust

because right now it can’t get any fucking worse!

(See, there, now you’ve made me curse.)

p. 25 “This twist on sangria is sure to please ya.” I think I just died.

p. 28 “Paste your pad with precious papers you can purchase” – yes, not a rhyme, but ALLITERATION ALWAYS ANNOYS.

p. 30 “We say ‘Hell to the yes!’ about this GPS”

p. 38 “Spruce up your spring with adorable things” (!!!)

p. 42 “Try a no-shampoo ´do – cut out the chemicals for terrific tresses”

p. 44 “Have a ball in the heart of it all” – this article about Columbus OH boasts picture captions consisting of such horrific doggerel that Ogden Nash is dying all over again):

  • p. 44 “Have a blast at Wholly Craft!” (Do you think they are trying to rhyme here?)
  • p. 44 “The author gets her kicks at Used Kids” (??)
  • p. 45 “Get your appetite ready for Betty’s” (!)
  • p. 45 “Fulfill your ice cream dreams at Jeni’s”
  • p. 45 “A Short North gallery hop is the tops” (Did they seriously just say “the tops”?)
  • And the article ends by claiming that “…one visit to Columbus will make you claim our state the best in the Midwest.”

p. 48 I died just a little when the interview with David Sedaris proclaimed him to be “David Sedaris: Essayist, Humorist, Awesomest” but yes, it was also pretty cute.

Those Flight of the Conchords pictures (pages 54-59) were hilarious.

I died for real on page 61. My absolute most favorite band in the entire world Le Tigre (RIP) has a newly formed spinoff called MEN. Why is it called MEN? I’ll let my used-to-be-girlcrush J.D. Sampson tell you:

“….we were talking about Jo’s new philosophy of living which was called “What would a man do?” Which is like, when someone cuts in front of you in line you’re just like “Oh, it’s OK.” But what would a man do? A man would be like, “excuse me, why did you just cut me in line”? I mean, not any man, but a certain kind of man. Then we decided we wanted to live by that philosophy, and we were like, “What should we call ourselves?” And we were like “MEN. We’re going to do this like men.” We think about it all the time. We don’t want to be nice people anymore – we want to be men.”







.Some space is needed to process what just occurred.


JD Sampson just utterly and completely rejected feminism and jumped on the Hillaryism wagon – everything men has ever done is fine, the problem is that women aren’t just like men, so solve that problem and you’ve solved everything. The mind boggles. How can I ever listen to “Viz” ever again?

I can only hope that Kathleen is forming her own spinoff called WOMEN, YOU FUCKING POMO LOSERS.

Moving on.

p. 68 “Spank Rock gets mad props”

The interview/fashion spread with pro surfers Kassia Meador and Jen Smith on page 72 could have been a great opportunity to discuss what it’s really like to be a woman surfer. Instead the article is titled “Surfer Girls” and includes sentences like these:

“Welcome to the dream lives of Roxy girls, where sponsored athletes like Meador and Smith are paid to travel from break to break, catching waves, modeling for photo shoots, and competing for world titles – all while exemplifying the brand’s natural, carefree spirit (cute bikinis and vacation rentals with spectacular views included.)”

Are we even reading Bust anymore? The Bust of 1999 would have punched this Bust in the ovaries, it would be so angry and ashamed. I’d love to know what it’s like to be a real athlete yet still have to put up with being seen as a pinup girl, or if surfer girls with hairy armpits can get sweet sponsorships, and so much more. Instead we just get girls in hot pants frolicking on beaches.

(I guess we can read Susan Orlean for some of that)

p. 83: “Jamie Hince and Alison Mosshart emerge from the British gloom with Midnight Boom

p. 85: “Tannishtha Chatterjee covers her mane in Brick Lane

And I don’t know when this issue went to press, but it’s pretty embarrassing that their glowing review of Love and Consequences doesn’t mention that it’s a completely made up “memoir” – they call Margaret Jones “an authentic and credible narrator.” I’ll assume that the issue went to press after that blew up. Even though the truth came out around March 4 and I just got this issue 2 or so weeks ago.

p. 93 “Blam! Blam! Thank you ma’am”

No thanks, actually.

3 Responses to “something to get off my chest / time to give Bust a rest?”

  1. christina

    Bust seems like it left behind the “feminist” audience to cater to the “alternative female” audience, a consumer group made up by advertisers to co-opt third wave feminist movement, in my humble opinion. I share your disappointment with what the magazine has become- I stopped reading it a few months ago when Gwen Stefani was on the cover. In the article on how she was both being a mother and keeping up a music career (of course it is mentioned in passing that the child was immediately handed off to a nanny for the duration of the interview…) Gwen makes clear that she is not a feminist as she likes men. Why is this the cover article for a “feminist” magazine?

  2. madmonq

    Dude/ette. The article with “Flight of the Conchords” in the recent Bust magazine was embarrassing. The article read like a hipster version of Teen Beat. I could almost hear giddy giggling in the background.

    If you must decrease your Bust I recommend you switch to Bitch. Magazine that is. They bill themselves as a “Feminist response to pop culture”. It’s quarterly and non-profit so they could probably use the readership. It’s also well worth it.


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