Venice (July 2004)

What should be a totally worthless free zine useful only as a doorstop or for idle browsing while waiting in line for food stamps turns out to be surprisingly in-depth, savvy and relatively cutting edge. Subtitled "Los Angeles' Arts & Entertainment Magazine," it's basically a PR agent's wet dream, just a flashy, cheaply-made rag filled with A- and B-list celebrity profiles and interviews. But the sheer volume of profiles and interviews, coupled with the broad range of individuals covered and strong writing pushes this above your usual "It's free, so I'll take it home and stick it next to the toilet" material.

This issue features Ashley Judd on the cover – ho-hum – but includes stories on a number of up-and-coming actors and musical acts, most of whom I'd never even heard of. Granted, all of those profiled are hawking their product, but it's refreshing when that product is, for instance, a local play written by a zaftig Hispanic woman, as opposed to the latest big-budget thriller about giant serial-killing snakes.

Two interviews stood out, one with Alfred Molina, best known for playing Satipo in Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark (oh, he also played Doc Ock in Spider-Man 2); the other with Harry Thomason, who directed The Hunting of the President.

A closing section of local stuff to eat, drink, see, and do seems obligatory and pointless, even more so the "new DVDs" section. And I really didn't bother reading 90% of the magazine. But what I read of it was pretty darn good, the rest of it seemed good, and I'll think twice before dismissing it again as mere pulp for the recycling industry.

Review by Crimedog