When I was 17 I would drive to the local bookstore and gaze longingly at the DIY magazine section. I would read as much of ReadyMade as the shopkeeper would allow, always taking a subscription card in hopes that I could get the $26 together to have a subscription of my own. In one of my mother’s “I can buy her happiness, right?” attempts, she purchased a subscription for me and accidentally renewed it . . . until 2013. I thought this was awesome because what better magazine to get for seven years, right? Well, it would have been ideal had they stuck to the same structure and goals they had when I first became an avid reader.
In 2006 the magazine included album reviews, book reviews, DIY tips, how-to guides (for anything from mixed-drinks, to buiding your own hide-a-record-shelf-chair), and my favorite feature, “How’d You Get That Fucking Awesome Job?”. In the golden age of the DIY revolution it was about saving money, innovating, and at heart, looking cool. Looking back at my old issues (yes, I’ve kept all of them) every early issue discussed organization and small-space living. Now, it’s about being green in the most elaborate and expensive ways possible so you can brag to your friends over cocktails in your candle-lit garden about how small your carbon footprint is (and everyone knows this is directly proportional to how big your dick is).
The most recent issue features a 13 page spread about making a meal truly from scratch. By this they mean the usual making your own bread, rolling pasta (a little more difficult), foraging for mushrooms (wait, it gets sillier), keeping honeybees, and raising hens for eggs. Because ReadyMade’s former audience can totally do all that out of their efficiency apartments and parents’ basements*.
Today’s ReadyMade has shifted its target audience from poor 20-somethings with the drive to create and look cool on a budget to 30-something families living in prairie boathouse-turned-bungalows in which they have the time and wealth to keep bees, raise hens for the eggs, and host movie screenings out of their home theatres. They’ve removed all practicality from their design and message, leaving the average reader (and I assume that even with those aforementioned bungalow-dwellers, we poor schmucks are the majority) high and dry, uninspired, and feeling a little poorer than when we started reading.
I am not complaining because ReadyMade no longer speaks to me, although it’s true that it does not. I’m okay with that. I’m complaining because it whispers to a niche market and those envious of that market; the kids who want to someday run a successful internet business while teaching typography at an East coast university will look at the kitchen cabinets made from old wooden wine crates and dream about the day when their landlords let them put so much as a hole in the wall. And good for them.
For those of us with less lofty dreams and even less in our pocketbooks, we’ll just have to stick to the internet as a source for project ideas and motivation.
*That is unless you have some ostrich eggs laying around, in which case you can complete the project on page 77.