About this time last year, US Airways, Delta, or some other crappy airline notified me that my soon-to-expire frequent flyer miles could be exchanged for magazine subscriptions, which is how I ended up spending something like 600 miles to add a year's subscription to Bloomberg BusinessWeek to my Towering Reading Pile.
My Towering Reading Pile is governed by neo-Darwinian, survival-of-the-smartest-copy laws. With all the good stuff to read directly on the Web, stored on my RSS reader, and stockpiled by my Instapaper account, a mere book, magazine, or newspaper must be exceptional. Some publications (the New York Times) I read thoroughly because everybody I work with (and many of the people I write for) reads it. Other publications I first fillet for their prime morsels, like National Review for Mark Steyn's ongoing chronicle of a planet gone retrograde and Vanity Fair for James Wolcott's recombinant experiments with the American language. On Sundays, I make the weekend editions of the Times, the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal, and the Financial Times play gladiator by tossing them into a 55-gallon drum and letting them fight it out. Upon returning a half-hour later, I collect the articles that were strong enough to defend themselves and consume them.
Into this cutthroat mix, BusinessWeek entered and damned if its feature well didn't shove The New Yorker, New York, and the New York Times Magazine aside to become my primary source of long-form, print journalism.
Who would have thought that "Bloomberg" and "BusinessWeek," the two most plodding names in the history of journalism, could merge to create a superb general interest magazine? I'm not saying that every issue is a treat, but nearly every issue contains one. The most recent issue, dated Dec. 12, contains several: Felix Gillette on real estate crime in Las Vegas, Brad Stone on the maker of military drones, and a short profile by Sarah A. Topol of the life and times of a Libyan tycoon. The Oct. 31 issue has three as well: Drake Bennett on David Graeber, the brains behind the Occupy movement, Vivienne Walt on a frozen yogurt start-up in Cairo, and Daniel Grushkin on a rare earth prospector/claimholder in Alaska.