So, I got to meet these guys:
That’s Matt Welch and Nick Gillespie from Reason magazine, and on Tuesday night they were at a book signing event sponsored by the Heartland Institute at Jaks Tap in Chicago to promote their new book The Declaration of Independents: How Libertarian Politics Can Fix What’s Wrong with America. (I reviewed part of the book here).
I must admit, it was a bit of a fanboy moment. I’ve been reading and admiring Reason magazine for years, and these guys are the current editors-in-chief. Actually, according to the masthead, Matt Welch is the real editor-in-chief of the magazine, and Nick Gillespie is the editor-in-chief of the website version of the magazine and of reason.tv which is the video production arm of Reason. Really, though, Nick is kind of a libertarian-at-large who manages to appear on an amazing number of talk shows.
When I first started reading Reason, Virginia Postrel was editor-in-chief, but when she moved on to other things, Nick Gillespie took over. Most of us readers didn’t know much about him, and it soon became a running joke that everything the magazine did was “better when Virginia Postrel was in charge.” The truth is, though, that Reason is still a great magazine, and Nick Gillespie did a lot to make sure that not just a handful of libertarians knew it.
One of Nick’s announced goals was to pay more attention to cultural issues. I was skeptical when I first heard about that, because I was reading Reason for the way it addressed policy issues from a libertarian point of view. What the heck did culture have to do with that?
I think I’m beginning to understand what he was getting at: The best parts of our culture are often the result of individuals doing thing their own way. It’s not that very best books or music are highly individualistic. Rather, with so many people writing their own books and music, we each have a better chance of finding something that appeals to us, and we each have a better chance of writing something that appeals to others. In an age where following the smallest authors and bands is as easy as following the giant superstars, our culture has become customized. The libertarian impulse to do things our own way is thriving.
I’m less sure of Matt Welch, because his job isn’t really all that visible from outside, but Reason is as good as ever, so he must be doing something right.
When I met Matt and Nick, I snarked at them a bit about their performance at Reason–they had pretty much seeded the room with snark during their presentation, so it was hard to resist–and while I’m 99% sure they recognized the snark for what it is, I feel I really should say that Reason is the best magazine I’ve ever read, and they’ve done a spectacular job with it. It remains the only paper magazine I still subscribe to.