last words

A Quick Guide to Not-Us
By: The Current Team

Sometimes, you just run out of the Current.  You finish the news, the culture, the cartoons, skim the sex personals, read everyone’s horoscope, and still you discover your coffee’s got a few drops left. You need something else to read. You could pick up the latest monstrosity from Hearst, but then you might as well baste your ears with drain cleaner. Same result. Instead, allow us to recommend the other free papers available around the city. Diversity rocks.

Bias dump: we’re skeptical of magazines in which the type is so large we can read it with our glasses off. Also, what does the “C” stand for? In a city renowned for its low self-esteem, wouldn’t “A San Antonio” have been a better choice? But we can forgive C San Antonio because (a) we like the publishers’ carpe-diem attitude, (b) It’s a great shopping resource; see March’s guide to San Antonio boutiques, and (c) it looks more polished than any other attempt at a citywide glossy in recent memory.


Question: If you’re putting out a polished piece of boosterism that looks like it was produced with the most conservative template in a desktop-publishing software suite, how do you lure advertisers? Answer: By featuring locally beloved celebrities in large full-color photographs. Henry Cisneros’s now-grandfatherly face sells the March-April cover of NSIDE San Antonio Business, but he’s just the frosting for Meteorologist Jennifer Broome, Alamo Beer impresario Eugene Simor, and Spurs physician Dr. David Schmidt. The upside: since many of the articles are authored by “experts in the field” — i.e. Definitive Custom Homes’ Greg Mikesell II contributed “Custom Building in the Next Generation: A Tailored Framework for Success” — there’s no need for those pesky “advertisement” tags. Enjoy the whole low-gloss advertorial confection with a big grain of salt.


Part black community newsletter, part celebrity tabloid, the 16-page San Antonio Observer is about as professional as some of our favorite West African newspapers. But we love them all the same, if only because of their non-sensical disclaimer: “The names of characters used in the San Antonio Observer, fiction and non-fiction, are fictitious and are parody and are not to be taken seriously.” The Observer is also the one publication who can out-scandal us, particularly with their recent depiction of SAPD chief Bill McManus as a minstrel. Turn to the Observer for the latest public statements from Representative Ruth McClendon and candid bikini photos of Beyonce. Thank the Lord it’s not the other way around.


The magic of the satirical pub The Onion is that its writers tap into our cultural and political consciousness, and what comes out are hilarious, insightful, and fictional headlines like “Giuliani To Run For President of 9/11,” “Hillary Clinton Tries To Woo Voters By Rescinding Candidacy,” and “Norah Jones Releases Debut Album For Third Time.” The back half of The Onion belongs to the non-satirical “A/V Club,”  one of the most pretentious, but usually dead-on, gang of working film and music critics around.


The People’s Weekly World comes out of Chicago, birthplace of one of Socialism’s best journalists, Studs Terkel. It started as the Daily Worker in 1924, and is as pro-labor as Pete Seeger is anti-electric Bob Dylan. The Weekly World does a great job getting dispatches from Latin America, including splashy coverage of Bush and his withering message of free trade and free-Iraq-through-increased-
US-occupation, and goes the extra mile to make connections for readers — for instance, explaining why America’s southern neighbors hate us.


San Antonio’s only bilingual newspaper, La Prensa keeps the city informed on happenings both local and national. An independent and family-owned publication, the paper hits the streets every Wednesday, Friday, and Sunday. Check out The Entertainer, La Prensa’s weekly supplement. Edited by Current freelancer Kiko Martinez, it comprises news blurbs, film snippets and reviews, music coverage, and local spotlights.


The Edge bills itself as “Your Texas Rock Connection,” but this monthly really caters to SA’s dogged metal community. In a state where music publications tend to celebrate twangy acoustic troubadours, The Edge dares to grapple with such questions as: “Is speed metal back?” and “Is shredding cool again?” Casual listeners may be baffled by the inclusion of musical notation from guitarist Jeff Durio of Thirteen Muses for his “lick from hell,” but metal players will find their sense of community.     


Short, sweet, and older than us; the Current salutes The Action, San Antonio’s 32-year-old, 16-page alt-newsmonthly. Published and edited by Sam Kindrick, a veteran of the era when Say-Town had two competing dailies, The Action throws punches at the Express-News and deconstructs the Spurs. Its strength lies in its charming, grandfatherly, remember-those-days tone as it introduces the reader to the neglected Americana music scene.


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