Reader's Digest, fearless in the face of the big questions, takes on a toughie in its June issue: "Who Killed The Bog Men of Denmark?"
Said bogmen were found buried (where else?) in a bog outside of Silkenborg. They were notable not only because they were 2,000 years old and perfectly preserved, not only because they wore cute little caps and had apparently lived privileged, not to say blameless lives, not even because they had been strangled to death with a stout rope that still remained around their necks after having a last meal that resembled a bowl of Granola. It was more that they died, some of them at least, with ethereal smiles on their faces.
The explanation, puzzled out by the aptly named Dr. Peter Glob, came from none other than the distinguished Roman historian Tacitus. It turns out that in days of old the Danes were partial to human sacrifice to butter up Nerthus, their name for mother earth. Even the rope around the neck tied with Nerthus worship, as did the grainy last supper.
You live and learn. All Wet
When publisher Leonard Koren tells people his new magazine is called "Wet," the invariable repsonse is "what?" and he has to say all over again. "Wet," as in "Wet, the magazine of gourmet bathing."
Gourmet bathing, Koren explains amiably, is "higher consciousness bathing, a more evolved form of the shower or tub bath, subtleties like communal bathing, hot tubs, mud baths. Ultimately, we're trying to raise people's consciousnesses to the importance of water. Bathing is a communion with water, and that's what 'Wet' is all about."
Koren says all this with just the right amount of seriousness - not too much, now - appropriate for a man whose wry magazine features everything from an interview with the USC swim team to a consumer's guide to toothpaste to all kinds of photographs of humans of all ages getting, well . . . wet. Love and Kisses
Good Housekeeping swears that the following is a genuine, nona fide letter from a newlywed. Only the names have been changed: to protect everybody:
It sure is a small world! Believe me when I tell you that I never dreamed that when I caught the bridal bouquet at yours and Stanton's wedding two years ago it would bring me such good luck. And of course it goes without saying I never dreamed that I would someday marry Stanton.
We both hope there are no hard feelings and we would love to get together for a fun evening soon.
Shirley Call of the Wild
It's rough as hell out there in the gutsy world of outdoors magazines, with Field and Stream. Outdoor Life and Sports Afield battling for those robust readers. Since last month, however, the battle has taken a different turn, for Sports Afield, fired by editor David Maxey's notion that "that guy in the red hat has been talked down to a long time," has made a move to "sharply differentiate itself from its competitors."
That means that Sports Afield is now printed on higher quality paper with presumably higher quality photography and writing, all aiming for what Maxey calls "a select audiences of high intensity users of the outdoors whose income and leisure time lets them take full advantage of it." They better like what they're getting, because the new Sports Afield costs $1.50, exactly twice as much as the old one.
One of the inspirations for the new style is a much smaller, high-class magazine out of Brookline, Mass., called Gray's Sporting Journal, geared to the advanced outdoorsman and devoting entire issues every year to esoterica like trophy fishing and upland birds and game.
The problem with the big-three outdoors magazines, as Gray's founder and editor Edward Gray sees it, is that "in order to attract the marginally interested hunter and fisherman they have to give them the basics. After a year, people stop subscribing because they were only marginally interested in the first place, or because they don't want to hear the basics again. Those magazines are asking their long-term readers to stay in the second grade forever."
As to how Sports Afield's readers are responding to the new look, Maxey says that the word is "better than I expected, vastly in the direction of 'We think it's okay. This is, after all, a 90-year-old institution, and when you go fooling with it you ask for it." Fortunate Few
If money makes you happy, it will please you no end to find out that combined sales for the leading industial firms that make up the Fortune 500 rose 12.2 per cent to $971.1 billion in 1976.
Other fun facts to know and tell about the Fortune 500 include:
Auto producers did best among the top five companies, Ford bumping Texaco from the No. 3 spot and No. 2 General Motors closing the gap between it and No. 1 Exxon to a mere $1.5 billion.
Biggest gain in sales was shown by Norin, a Florida insurance and real estate company whose sales soared 1,928.8 per cent, moving it from nowhere to No. 324 on the list.
Amstar, the largest U.S. sugar and corn syrup manufacturer, had the biggest sales loss, 33.7 per cent, dropping it from No. 122 to No. 198.
The anchor team on the 500 was Foxboro of Foxboro, Mass., with sales of $327.6 million compared to $48.6 billion for No. 1 Exxon. Black Power
One of the least talked about aspects of American athletics, the fact that "blacks have come to dominate major U.S. sports as no other American minority group ever has," is given a serious look in the May 9 issue of Time.
Statistically, that dominance is striking: 65 per cent of the National Basketball Association's players are black, 42 per cent of the National Football League's. Blacks won 24 of 30 American gold medals at the Montreal Olympics, as well as the Most Valuable Player in baseball's National League 16 of the last 28 years.
Theories about why this is so are widespread, ranging from physical differences to "the grim selectivaiety of slavery." One of the most pointed came from University of California sociologist Harry Edwards:
"With the channeling of black males disproportionately into sports, the outcome is the same as it would be at Berkeley if we taught and studied nothing but English. Suppose that everyone who got here arrived as a result of some ruthless recruitment process where everyone who couldn't write well was eliminated at every level from age 6 all the way through junior college. It would only be a short time before the greatest prose - the greatest innovations in teaching, learning and writing English - came out of Berkeley. It is the inevitable result of all this talent channeled into a single area. The white athlete who might be an O.J. Simpson is probably sitting somewhere behind a desk."
What's "The Most Dangerous Magazine in America," where "dope, sex and politics melt, mingle and fuse into ideas too hot for the official culture to handle?" Guess again, it's High Times, which has just launched its very first national promotional campaign, complete with magazine aids and radio sports, aimed at increasing its already sizeable share of the market previously cornered by Rolling Stone.
"We've never done anything like this before, it's an image campaign to achieve more visibility and stress things that are not drugs," says a High Times spokesman, noting that the June cover features a portrait of rock cutie Blondie photographed by fashion ace Francesco Scuvallo. Does this mean the magazine is going cold turkey on its centerfold pictures of drugs in living color. "That," the man replied, "is like asking Hugh Hefner if he's going to cut out the ladies." Tidbits
The most affluent magazine audience in the known world has to be the readers of Architectural Digest, average income $57,000. According to a study reported in Folio, the magazine for magazine management, 68 percent of the readers own two or more cars, 23 per cent own two or more homes, and one out of every 8.8 A.D. households has a net worth of $1 million-plus. Whew! . . . The cover story in the usually glamor-mad Town & Country is a long, serious look at South Africa. Don't panic, though, they haven't left out the Duchess d'Uzes' usual smashing column . . . Guess what's inside the June issue of Horseman Give up. It's a new feature section called "Horsewoman," which, says the magazine , is even "printed in woman's magazine, type," whatever that is . . . The May Fortune presents the 25 best-designed products in the world, ranging from the $1.98 Super Cricket butane lighter to the $73,000 Enstrome Helicopter Corporation's Model 280C, a three-seater known as "The Shark." Total cost of all 25 goodies is $168,630 and 11 cents . . . Susan Ford should have learned to focus her camera before exposing her "White house Scrapbook" to the readers of Good Housekeeping . . . The June American Heritage has the earliest known photographs of Southern slaves, circa 1850, for which the subjects are identified by name and plantation . . . Show, which has changed owners and formats faster than former owner Huntington Hartford changes prices at the A&P, is now reborn as a skin magazine. The first issue tries to match the photos to the ideal women of Henry Winkler, Jack Nicholson and telly Savalas . . . Both Women's Day and Family Circle will go to 14 issues per year in 1978 . . .The June Road & Track will mark the magazine's 30th anniversary, and inside each one and every copy will be a reprint of that premier June, 1947, issue Be the first on your block . . .