region’s soul with the traditional, “OldnSouth” view that I wrote about lastnmonth. In the crucial matter of race,nfor instance, Southern worked conscientiouslynto portray and to celebrate anbiracial society — definitely not a colorblindnone, rather one that both blacksnand whites have built and must share.nIt sought black writers (successfully)nand subscribers (I don’t know), and itnwas. surprisingly candid about thenSouth’s remaining and emerging problemsnof race relations.nApparently I wasn’t the only onenwho found Southern’s approach interesting.nBy last year the magazine hadnattracted over 200,000 paying customersnfor its version of “the South, thenwhole South, and nothing but thenSouth.” But like the man in the countrynsong. Southern lived fast and diednyoung, leaving only beautiful memories.nIn the winter of 1988-89 I heardnrumors out of Birmingham that thenpublishers of Southern Living werenpreparing to start a general-interestnmagazine of their own, to go head tonhead with Southern. They covetednSouthern’s audience. Compared tonSouthern Living it drew proportionatelynmore young readers and more men,nand some advertisers like that. Moreover,nSouthern’s circulation was growingnrapidly; Southern Living had prettynwell saturated its market: three millionnhouseholds are, after all, a substantialnfraction of the Southern middle class.nI was happy to hear these rumors —nthe more regional magazines thenbetter — and unhappy to learn innMarch 1989 that they were wrong.nSouthern Living didn’t start a competingnmagazine; it just bought out the 70npercent interest in Southern held by anLitde Rock investment banking firm.nThe new owners of Southern promptlynsacked its publisher, editor, and staff,nand moved its editorial offices to Atlanta.nLast summer they announced thatnSouthern was being killed, to be replacednby something called Southpointn(“The Metropolitan Monthly”).nWell, the move to Adanta shouldnhave been a warning. Any magazinenedited from there would have to benvery different from the old Southernnmagazine. As an executive of Atlantanmagazine told the Cox News Service:n”The South that is Atlanta, the Southnthat is Florida, bears littie resemblancento the South that is Little Rock.” Thisnstatement — meant as a criticism ofnLittle Rock—is the kind of thing thatnmakes Atlanta despised elsewhere innthe South (except maybe in Florida). Itnis true, though, if only because there’snsome question of how many white folksnin Atlanta are Southerners to start with.nThis same yuppie argued that Southernn”had this real outdated romanticismnabout the South” — well. Southpoint’snpromotional literature made itnclear there’d be no romance about thisnnew magazine. It wasn’t going tonstruggle for the South’s soul: it wasnlooking to sell it.nSpeaking of souls, have you heardnthe one about Satan’s offer of wealth,npower, and fame in exchange for anlawyer’s? “What’s the catch?” the mannasks.nJust the sort of subscriber Southpointnseemed to be seeking. (A samplencover advertised an article on the tennbest lawyers in the South. No kidding.)nThis magazine, its promotional mailingnthreatened, would be one thatn”demands your attention.” It wouldnoffer “a probing, candid look at thenregion’s big changes, new players,nshifting currents.” It would haven”more about the hot issues directlynaffecting your career,” as well as “revealingnclose-ups of the coolest playersnand fastest comers who shape today’snSouth, the big winners (and losers).” Infound myself wondering what the lukewarmnoutcome might be when a coolnplayer meets a hot issue.nAnyway, the flyer said that someonenlike me, “who works, lives and plays (tonwin!) in today’s South,” has “the greatestnneed for a magazine like Southpoint,nwritten for and about then’thought’ leaders who drive our fastmoving,nquick-changing region.”nNow, it seems to me that if parts of thenSouth have become “fast-moving” andn”quick-changing” the least we can donis preserve a decent silence about it.nAnd who wants to live in a “driven”nnnregion, much less one driven byn” ‘thought’ leaders”?nIn short, this new magazine was notnpromising. One contrast sums it upnnicely: where Southern had articles onnbarbecue and biscuits, Southpoint’snbrochure promised a story on goodnairport food.nThis is just embarrassing. Yankeesndo this stuff so much better, I say letnthem do it all.nTo be fair, when Southpoint actuallynappeared, in September, it was betternthan this mailing had led me to fear.nAn enlightening cover story put thenfinancial affairs of Southern collegenfootball coaches under the lens. Therenwas a pleasant article about Olive AnnnBurns, author of Cold Sassy Tree, andna promising column on urban planning.nAll of the material I liked couldnhave appeared in the old Southern,nthough, and the rest of Southpoint isneither boring or silly. There are realnsundowners of articles about banks andnbusiness and “cool players,” as promised.nThe sort of flagrant advertisingntie-in that has made Southern Livingnso much money is represented by annarticle on a bunch of expensive hotelsn(the “five best” are in New Orleans,nDallas, Houston, Miami, and — Washington,nDC!) There’s a poody researchednlist of bookstores in a numbernof Southern cities, and a similar list ofnOriental restaurants that I can’t judge.nAnd there is absolutely no whimsynabout this new magazine.nWhat we have here is a combinationnof Fortune and New York magazine inna Southern setting, a magazine fornpeople who work, live, and play (tonwin!) in Southern cities — not at all thensame thing as a magazine for Southerners,nli Southpoint survives for a yearnor two in its present format, I’ll bencurious to see how many of its readersnare migrants to the South and hownmany are natives. I’m not sure what tonpredict, though: will many migrantsncare about a Southern magazine? Willnmany natives care about this one?nFrankly, I believe that the SouthernnLiving folks have made a big mistakenwith Southpoint, and that it reflects angeneration gap of some consequence.nI’ll finish this discussion next month.nJohn Shelton Reed enjoys SouthernnLiving and Southern living in ChapelnHill, North Carolina.nFEBRUARY 1990/43n