| March/April 1999

Face it: In a celebrity-drenched society dripping with magazines purportedly devoted to advancing the cause of culture, the last thing we need is another hipper-than-thou arts rag with yet one more sunny Beck profile or dark screed on media consolidation. So when I came across Gadfly for the first time several months ago, I wasn't much inclined to browse. But the cover promised a list of '100 Films to Change Your Life,' a nicely researched canon of cinematic favorites, and I was soon lost in a wave of drive-in nostalgia, opinion, and analysis. I've been hooked ever since..The two-year-old monthly offers none of the tired entertainment-industry fodder served up by most 'culture' mags these days. Instead, the magazine blasts convention: How about an entire cover section devoted to the life and work of artist Francis Bacon, or an in-depth analysis of The Exorcist, or a rollicking retrospective of country music outlaws of the '70s? Though the mix leans a bit heavily on countercultural themes (essays inspired by Manson, Joplin, and Brian Wilson in recent issues), Gadfly also has taken on the likes of Roger Ebert and Oprah, as well as Ayn Rand, C.S. Lewis, and Raymond Carver. The design is a little rough in places, but the feel is open and expressive--about what you'd expect from a magazine devoted to the unexpected.