Lola La-Di-Dah

October 25th, 2008 by Harrumpher Leave a reply »


Lackaday,  I have not been faithful to Lola.  After looking through — it is so LITE that reading is not a word to use with it — the first two issues, I didn’t even open the street box door to get the next eight.

Today though at the Haymarket, I noticed the new cover, the new promise on the 11th issue. The October low-low-Lola fairly shouts that this is THE AUTHENTICITY ISSUE (in seasonal pumpkin orange). Oh, in our jaded age, who amongst us should reject authenticity?

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The humor here (to all but the Globe and owner NYT managements) is that Lola is thick and full of advertising. At the same time, the feeble local parent is combining sections, trimming its dimensions and throwing staff out of the troika into the dangerous economic night.

The success is not surprising under the tweaking palms of editor Kara Baskin. She has been hitting Boston FOXnews and the circuit promoting her book Size Matters.  For a trifling $14, you can “(clear) up mysteries about male anatomy, orgasm, masturbation, STDs, testosterone, impotence, sexual response, and much more.” This may not be all fluff, as the lead author is a urologist, Harry Fisch.

What is biz news is that in the print-is-dead era, a narrow, yuppie book, as the trade is wont to call a magazine, would float. A look at the box locations may clarify here. There are 125 boxes in Boston. They are where the slick and sleek sleep — Beacon Hill, Back Bay and South End primarily. There are also smaller clumps in money pouches — 43 in Newton, 32 in Cambridge, 30 in Brookline and 34 in Wellesley. Check the ads and reach for your AMEX Platinum cards, kiddies.

It’s smart marketing and positioning. The heft and ad volume look pretty good. They don’t seem to have captured the Neiman Marcus-level stores or the $45-entrée restaurants…yet.

Another savvy Lolaism is counterintuitive. Most of us are used to getting news and views online. Even for papers and magazines we get delivered, we like to read these online. Not with Lola.  The site has no content related to the maggy. Somebody smart realized the value of telling advertisers that readers have to hold it, open it and be exposed to the actual sales pitches. That doesn’t work for news, but for women’s service magazine content, it’s heap clever and workable.

So, take Lola at its word. Oops, the Baskin refers to the maggy as she. Let’s see how authentic the contents of the authenticity issue is.

The  genuineness level is about the same as a socialite’s welcome or good wishes.

Perhaps the most risible feature is the Good Deeds one. Its title is broken by an asterisk — acts of kindness* *that are easy to do. Let that roll around in your mind a bit.

On the surface, this is about helping others, but the two points for Lolaoids are 1) You don’t have to put yourself out much and 2) You can feel good, even self-righteous. So there. This is about the reader/consumer and not hoi polloi.

As a UU, I have to qualify that though. Our associati0n’s churches are full of checkbook liberals. Many of our pledge units don’t do squat for others directly, but their money keeps the church operating and goes to good causes. They are doing good stuff, even if at arm’s length. The walk for this or that and the chip in for special collections types are essential and positive, in their way.

The five authenticity choices this month were:

  • Donate books or read to kids waiting for pediatric checkups in a clinic.
  • A walk-for fund-raiser, this one for blood cancers.
  • Join an anti-puppy mill/pet shop group, and maybe even leaflet for it.
  • Spend a couple of hours in a big group cleaning up a park in Allston.
  • Volunteer for a suburban humane society at a cat shelter.

Those are all good things. They also don’t inconvenience anyone or risk a long-term commitment. Feel good and walk away.

 Lola is at her best though in getting the privileged readers to write the copy. Consider the cover teaser promising Readers on Ditching Phoniness. Wowzers, lassies…enlightenment on a single page (12).

Keeping with its me-first attitude, Lola  rewards her authorettes. The favorite tip won a Lola handbag and Starbucks gift pack (with a $20 gift card, iced coffee bumbler, and bag of beans). This is a monthly shtick.

So in October, How Do You Avoid Being Fake? according to Lola readers?

  1. Live the cliché. “…if I try to be the superhero that my dog believes me to be, then my values are aligned and the superficial wants and desires of day-to-day life don’t seem so important.”
  2. Guilt trip relatives. One tipster emailed (cold, I say!) family not to send anything solid for her birthday. Instead they are supposed to figure out some unexpected good deed they could do for another. Ah, the self-righteousness  is contagious, as well as passive-aggressive.
  3. Mingle with the other.  “Extend yourself to people who are different from you in terms of age, occupation, economic strata.” How egalitarian, no?
  4. Goof on the blind. Volunteer at the Perkins School for the Blind. They literally won’t notice “your bad hair day…overdue mani-pedi, or…less than fabulous outfit.”
  5. The winner:  Be superficial but mean it. Like a parody of a Southern Belle, Annette from Milton states, “Superficiality becomes a problem when we are lazy and apply the mechanics of social graces, but not the spirit to situations (and people) that deserve something more.”

The entire maggy is what the industry calls toilet reading. Those are the short, simple-minded snippets that take under two minutes to read and do not require analysis. It’s a formula that has been successful for many newsstand and supermarket pubs, most aimed at women.

Lola has found its audience it would seem, as well as enough advertisers.  It will probably thrive even as the Globe suffers. If your brain is crying out to be entertained but not made to work, you know where to head.

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