Whats Up, Weekly Week Join Flood of Square Magazines

The Reporter's Notebook

This fall, two new periodicals targeting the college-age crowd sprang up in Harvard Square, adding to the area's already crowded supply of off-beat independent newspapers.

Free reads already familiar to students and locals range from a nameless sheet promoting communist manifestos in Spanish to The Improper Bostonian, a glossy, highbrow magazine which, in its last issue, included a profile of Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr. '38.

The Weekly Week, one of the two newcomers inundating the Square, calls itself "Boston's Only Redundant News Source for News."

The founders--a group of recent college graduates from the area who are also aspiring comedians--don't seem to take life, or themselves, too seriously.

Brendon P. Small, the account executive and a writer for the paper, describes The Weekly Week as a "subtle attempt" by he and his "hip, young twenty-something friends" to take over the city's media.

"We'll gnaw away at Boston for a couple of years, and then we'll rule it," he says.

Although the free publication currently boasts only a few paid advertisements, Small says he is confident the magazine will grow and prosper.

"We're doing very well in the 18 to 35 demographic age group," he says. "We'll win them over. We sell subscriptions, T-shirts, [and] we'll have action figures eventually."

Small, who graduated from the Berklee School of Music in May, also performs regularly with his sketch comedy troupe at The Comedy Studio, located upstairs from the Hong Kong Restaurant on Mass. Ave.

Weekly Week Editor Eugene Mirman also performs stand-up comedy each Thursday at the Green Street Grill in Central Square, Small says.

In contrast, Whats Up, the other new Square publication, focuses on "combining entertainment and social awareness."

The magazine--which unlike other local publications carries a selling price of $1--combines advertisements from both Establishment monoliths like the Princeton Review and progressive businesses such as the Lucy Parsons Center, a leftist bookstore in Central Square.

Whats Up was founded by former Boston College student Aaron Goldstein, the magazine's publisher and editor-in-chief, who intended for the publication to be sold by homeless vendors.

Jesse A. Sage '98, executive editor of The Independent, says he "liked the idea of a student magazine to benefit the homeless" and worked out an agreement with Goldstein that allows Whats Up to reprint articles from The Independent.

"It's what we're doing to help them out even while we're all busy with school," Sage says.

While Whats Up can be purchased for $1 at Toscanini's, The Weekly Week and other free publications can be found at the Science Center, Tower Records on the corner of Mt. Auburn and Brattle Streets, and Wrap Culture, a sandwich eatery across from Lowell House on Mt. Auburn.