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The Journal of the Lincoln Heights Literary Society
Miscellanea and Ephemeron

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12/17/2004 Archived Entry: "Magazine Review: Mad Magazine "20 Dumbest of 2004" issue No. 449 January 2005"

MAD Magazine - 20 Dumbest of 2004
No. 449 January 2005
Published by: EC Publications

Review by Kathy LaFollett

Back in the 70s I was addicted to Mad Magazine. So much so that at the age of 13 I sent in a portfolio of work hoping to garner employment as a cartoonist/humorist. But Alas, my character "Mr. Tic" didn't make the grade. I received a rejection letter with a personal note from Alfred E. Newman though. Which I slept with for months. I knew Alfred didn't REALLY exist, and that some editor was kind enough to take the time to let me know my talent was young and rough, but could go somewhere if I chose to take it forward. I still have that letter. I also still have an addiction to the pointed irreverence only dished out by the mind boggling talent found in Mad Magazine.

The artists, writers and graphic designers at Mad are the Robin Williams of publishing. Genius, mania, crank, acid, vinegar, sugar and chainsaws all mixed up leaving a mother's milk of cynical liquid that once mainlined, leaves the reader an addict on the corner next to their local magazine store.

"20 Dumbest" cuts through the layers of rationalization and prejudice only America can pile on to hide the fact we have, as a society, barely evolved out of the larvae stage. In the immortal words of Forrest Gump, "Stupid is as stupid does..."

The Art Director at Mad must have some level of mental chaos pathology in as much as every square inch of paper real estate is crammed with humor so dry, James Bond would thirst for his next shaken martini. Visually the magazine practically vibrates on it's own with movement, color, pacing, and supreme writing. You can't put the magazine down till you've read through to the last page. So don't try.

Don't read this in a library, you'll get kicked out for laughing too loud.

Don't read this walking or driving, you'll run into something.

Don't read this while sipping tea, you'll just end up squirting tea out your nose.

Don't read this if you happen to be an uptight-judgmental-purist of ANY sort. You won't get the humor, and you'll be outraged at the flippancy and absolute brutally honest approach taken towards 20 American monikers of 2004.

CNN would like you to believe and has tried to get you to believe over the last 12 months that the aforementioned were important at the time. That these matters were life and death and demanded our tireless attention and opinion at the water cooler.

Thank god the writers at Mad cleared that up.

And thank god somebody still has the balls in media to state the fact that George Bush does dumb things, consistently.

And thank god Sergio Aragones' continues on. Sergio, it was your art and writing that first pulled me in.

I'm a bit bummed on the whoring of our Black and White nemesis' into the Corporate Capitalist Machine. Did Spy vs. Spy REALLY need to be put through the shredder of marketing? It smells right up there with Led Zepplin selling out to Cadillac or Aerosmith providing the soundtrack for Buick commercials. Isn't anything sacred?

Oh wait... never mind.

There is something comforting in knowing a magazine exists that prints and distributes the answer to the question we all ask ourselves while brushing our teeth before going to bed. No, we aren't the only one who thinks most of what goes on in the headlines is dumb.

Besides, what other magazine has the talent and chutzpah to use the word bloviating properly in a cartoon?

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