Friday, June 13, 2008

April 6, 1990

From EW Weekly

These days, environmental magazines are sprouting like amphetamine-fertilized crocuses. Such publications were once the domain of nonprofit groups such as the Sierra Club, but in the last two years, three mass-market environmental titles (all bimonthlies) have made their debuts: Buzzworm, launched in 1988 and based in Boulder, Colo.; Garbage, published for the first time last September by the Brooklyn company that produces The Old-House Journal; and E, a Norwich, Conn.-based magazine that premiered in January. With its March- April issue, Mother Earth News, an Owen Lipstein publication (his others are Smart and Psychology Today), completes its well-publicized shift to environmental coverage. Russ Hoyle, a former Time senior editor, is drawing up plans for The Environmentalist. Hoyle hopes to launch the magazine sometime in 1991. Earth Day 1990, on April 22, gets special attention this month from, among others, New Age Journal, Outside, and Mother Jones. Outside lampoons Earth Day hype with a spread of charts and factoids, Spy-like in layout and tone, called ''This Green Thing.'' And in its 20th anniversary issue, Smithsonian has essays on the history of United States environmentalism and the ups and downs of the ecology movement since Earth Day 1970. Why so much hubbub? Because many people believe there's gold to be mined from the Green Decade that allegedly begins this month. As Mother Earth News editor Alfred Meyer put it in an ''Open Letter'' to Madison Avenue that ran in Adweek last November, ''The environmental movement (is) surging across the demographic landscape. Not since the early eighties, when the nation went on a health and fitness kick, has a social movement reached so deep.'' Not surprisingly, there's some overlap in the new, full-time environmental magazines. After reading one bimonth's worth, you may know all you'll ever want to about the towering fallacy of biodegradable plastics and the evils of disposable diapers. But each of the four has staked out a recognizable niche. Garbage is aimed at you Sons of Bob Vila who, in the name of eco-awareness, are eager to make your homes environmentally sound. Editor Patricia Poore has called her magazine the one for greenies ''with dishpan hands,'' and she means it. In its January-February issue, Garbage ran a head- turner called ''After the Flush,'' which included a Fantastic Voyage through a sewage system, and a consumer's guide to water-saving toilets. The ''Garbage Index,'' a fun-facts file, reported that We the People use 22,627 square miles of toilet paper a year (nearly enough, Garbage forgot to say, to cover Maryland, Delaware, New Jersey, and Rhode Island). The March-April issue tells you how to slay garden pests with natural, environment-friendly potions. Buzzworm is slicker. Unlike E and Garbage-which are printed on politically correct recycled paper stock-Buzzworm unashamedly uses unrecycled glossy throughout (although it says it will soon change over to recycled paper). Buzzworm has less how-to and more of what editor Joseph E. Daniel calls ''information toohelp people get physically involved in environmentalism.'' Its ''Connections'' section lists dozens of volunteer and paying jobs in environmental fields, and at the end of most articles there's an address for those seeking more info. (Garbage and E provididthis service, too; Mother Earth News, so far, does not.) Buzzworm also clearly wants to appeal to the action-people types who read Outside. The March-April issue has its share of green material-for example, a feature on the Soviet Union's eco-movement-buu it's dominated by lush nature photography and pieces on spelunking, white- water rafting, and a list of wilderness outfitters. E fits somewhere in between. Printed on humble, dull-finish paper, its service and feature reporting resembles elements in both Buzzworm and Garbage. The current issue, for example, contains reports on the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and paper recycling. The main how-to feature is a beginner's guide to computer networks for environmental activists. Finally, in an orbit all its own is the new Mother Earth News, which looks like an econut's Rolling Stone (probably because both publications were formatted by Roger Black). The first new-style issue contains messages and postcards from the planet Earth that will be beamed into outer space on Earth Day. (Many are, of course, from celebrities, including Ann Landers, who laments, ''Our planet is dying.'') The signal also will go, via satellite, to members of a Soviet-Chinese-American ''Peace and Environment'' team scheduled to reach the top of Mt. Everest on-yes, you guessed it-Earth Day. Why? ''(T)his special issue,'' Alfred Meyer writes in an open letter to outer-space browsers, ''however parochial and imperfect it may ultimately prove to be, is an attempt to speak on behalf of the entire planet, which, as a magazine, we are named for, after all.'' A note to aliens: Please send editorial replies-especially death rays- only to the return address on the masthead.

Romeo and Juliet Players, March 2, 2006

Owen Lipstein, Founder and Producer of Shakespeare on the Hudson, is a former magazine entrepreneur. He founded American Health magazine, which won the National Magazine Award for General Excellence. He was Editor in Chief of Psychology Today, Mother Earth News and Spy. After selling American Health intact in 1997, he moved to Catskill. In 1999, he made his directorial debut, directing The Tempest at Shakespeare on the Hudson and last year directed the highly-acclaimed SH production of Macbeth. Owen will direct this season's presentation of Romeo and Juliet.
Bob would like to thank Owen and Kelly for this opportunity, his family and friends, sister Andrea, and as always to the memory of my parents and my Bobi and Zayde.

Psychology Today, March 1992

Sex & crocheting in Burma
Presents an interview with Ram Dass, the 'Servant of God,' by Owen Lipstein. Psychological background; Why he left Harvard; On the larger picture; Decline of materialism and the rise of volunteer work; How he deals with all of the suffering; What he says to these people; Whether he considers himself a religious leader; More.

By: PT Staff

Is he a servant of God or just a nice psychologist from Harvard who took onetoo many doses of LSD? "I'm really an upwardly mobile, exploitative guy on a power trip, and somebody from PSYCHOLOGY TODAY is interviewing me in my house in Marin County with my Mercedes out back. [Those images of me] are all true and they're all false."

It's none other than Ram Dass, who received his name ("Servant of God") from a spiritual guru he found in the Himalayas in the late 1960s. Born Richard Alpert, he was fired by Harvard in 1963, along with Timothy Leary, for conducting experiments with psychedelic chemicals. His 1971 book, Be Here Now, chronicling the use of mind-expanding drugs, Hinduism, and meditation, was a best-seller.

Now, at 60, Ram Dass is not simply an older--and balder--symbol of the Sixties: He works as a counselor for the dying, has established a volunteer organization to aid refugees in Guatemala and the blind in India, and is a popular figure on the lecture circuit. From college campuses to retreats for Fortune 500 executives, he talks about death, compassionate social action, our ties to the environment, and what it means to be conscious.

Owen Lipstein for PT: You have the most formal and academic background in psychology. You served as a professor of psychology at Harvard in the 1960s. But you resigned--why?

RD: The field was defined very narrowly then. The psychology I studied at Stanford saw humans as ambulatory variables. Psychology was what was measurable in publicly reproducible ways. That ruled out introspection. It ruled out naturalistic experience,. At Harvard I started to bring those back in. But that wasn't considered science any longer. Now it is again.

PT: What's changed?

RD: Before, inner experience was considered irrelevant, an artifact. Western psychology had very little to say about the mind. It had a lot to say about the brain, about response behavior. What I did from 9 to 5 at Harvard had nothing to do with what happened to me after five o'clock; my depressions, my fantasies were irrelevant to what I was able to measure.

Psychology then was almost totally built on pathology. You were either sick or not sick. You were never healthy. You could go from negative to zero; you could never go positive. People like [Abraham] Maslow and [Carl] Jung and [Carl) Rogers saw the positive side. But the minute you get to the positive side, you're at the edge of mysticism, the edge of what Maslow called the "self-actualized person." These are the realms in which you don't have hard empirical data to support your theory. You are dignifying humanity with more potential than just pathology or lack of pathology, but you are losing the science of it.

PT: When did this start for you?

RD: When I took psilocybin in 1961, that changed the meaning of psychology to me. There was a major ground reversal. After that, psychology just seemed like a relative reality, rather than absolutely real. The minute you see this kind of monolithic value system is just another one, it loses its power over you. It lost its position as the first way of knowing. I'm still a psychologist in that I can think in terms of personal dynamics and defense mechanisms and psychosexual stages of development, but that's not the uppermost matrix against which I see the world. It's interesting the same way Newtonian physics is interesting in relation to Einsteinian physics.

Read full Psychology Today Interview


Once the toast of the magazine world as Editor-in-Chief of Psychology Today, Mother Earth News, and Spy - simultaneously; Owen Lipstein informed the nation's pop culture by tapping into trends. But it was a ride not unlike a vessel upon the Hudson, one of ebbs and flows.

"I think, as a body of water, rivers to me are the most interesting. They have movement, directions. In this case, it's tidal, meaning it literally has the ebbs and flows of the planets," says Lipstein. "To me, the best two books in the English language - Heart of Darkness and Huckleberry Finn - were written about the river. And if you're going to ask me if I identify with those characters, the answer is yes."

In 1996, Owen left the publishing world, retiring to the serenity of a one-hundred-acre tract along the river in Athens. Here, Owen fills his time by juggling a vaiety of ambitious creative projects all over the Hudson Valley. Along with the Stewart House Hotel and River Tavern in Athens, he directs and produces Shakespeare on the Hudson, owns and operates a successful Hudson Valley magazine called InsideOUT, and has recently launched a record lable called Stewart House Records.

Retired? Hardly.

Inspired? Absolutely.

New York Times, March 8, 1988
Advertising; Psychology Today in Transition

Published: March 8, 1988

LEAD: OWEN LIPSTEIN and T. George Harris, the founders and owners of American Health magazine, said yesterday that they had agreed to acquire 90 percent of Psychology Today from the American Psychological Association.

OWEN LIPSTEIN and T. George Harris, the founders and owners of American Health magazine, said yesterday that they had agreed to acquire 90 percent of Psychology Today from the American Psychological Association.

For Mr. Harris, the magazine held a special attraction. He had become its editor at the end of its first year, serving in that position from 1968 to 1976, and he has remained close to the editors since leaving.

Mr. Lipstein is determined not to divulge the price of the 21-year-old magazine, but he acknowledged that it would be $5 million to $10 million. Woody Katsoff will continue as publisher.

The psychological association has been losing money on the publication - up to $1.5 million last year, according to rumors. But the two buyers say that its circulation is strong and that advertising is the area that needs strengthening.

Mr. Lipstein, 36 years old, says one of his strengths is an ability to attract advertisers. He has gained a reputation, he says, for ''being good at telling marketers why magazines are important to them.'' He and Mr. Harris, 63, are also co-owners of American Health, but Mr. Lipstein is the sole owner of Mother Earth News.

The two men are convinced that all three publications attract the same kind of ''baby boomer'' readership, so they plan to develop a ''Boomer Network,'' which would give advertisers a discount for inclusion in all three magazines and in their Wall Media, which is poster advertising displayed at 1,200 health clubs.

The Boomer Network will be offering an audience of 15 million. These are people ''in their 30's, affluent and educated, who want to learn how to be competent,'' Mr. Harris said. He foresees a trend toward ''self-enhancement.''

Seventy-five percent of Psychology Today's readers, like American Health's, are women.

Psychology Today was bought by Ziff-Davis in 1973 and acquired by the psychology association three years ago. In 1977, the magazine reached its peak in advertising, with 650 or more ad pages, and in circulation, with 1.2 million readers, Mr. Harris said.

In June 1982, Ziff-Davis cut the circulation rate base to 850,000. That is its current level, Mr. Lipstein said, but the magazine is actually delivering 960,000.

As for advertising pages, the Publishers Information Bureau estimated that the magazine carried 337 last year, with estimated revenues of $6.8 million, virtually unchanged from 1986.

''We're not going to make it what it was,'' Mr. Lipstein said. ''It will have to be different. The world has changed.''

Read full NYT article

Owen Lipstein: fitness of body, mind and magazine
American Health; Psychology Today; Smart; Mother Earth News
March, 1989

Owen Lipstein: Fitness of body, mind and magazine

New York City--As late afternoon sunlight filters through the windows, spotlighting a canvas punching bag that hangs from the 14th Street office ceiling, Owen Lipstein ponders the future of his magazines. He wears a wrinkled purple knit shirt and an extra day's worth of unshaved stubble, having flown in that morning from a Detroit business trip. The past year has been a breathless one.

Lipstein, who launched American Health in 1981, now controls four magazines--two acquired since last May. Each of the four has different investors, with Lipstein owning a controlling share in all but American Health, where his stake is closer to 25 percent.

Given the choice, Lipstein would have taken more time between acquisitions, but "when these things come up, you either take them or you don't," he says. Psychology Today came into the fold last spring with a $6.5 million price tag, and Lipstein bought part of Smart last fall for an undisclosed amount. The new titles make his overall operation--which has no official name--a company with $60 million annual sales and 150 employees.

Growth, however, has brought major challenges. Both American Health and Psychology Today need fresh editorial and graphic approaches--the former to maintain its maturing market position against rising competition, the latter to reassert its viability after years under the American Psychological Association. The start-up project, Smart, must prove itself both to advertisers and readers as it begins bimonthly production in March. Mother Earth News "almost runs itself," but then it was redesigned only two years ago when Lipstein and partners acquired it. Finally, ancillary businesses, which include a variety of books, videos, health club wall media and several single-sponsor annual magazines, are expected to expand from roughly 10 percent of total revenues to 30 percent within a few years.

A master plan

Lipstein is pulling all of this into a master plan, an advertising package buy temporarily called "The Personal Best Media Network." The network will offer advertisers some 14 million baby boomers--based on three million cumulative circulation, multiplied by an average 3.5 readers per copy, plus four million people who pass through health clubs where the "American Health Magazine Fitness Bulletin" hangs on the walls. It's a well-heeled yuppie audience with only 8 percent reader duplication, according to Jay H. Burzon, executive vice president/group publishing.

Lipstein now has his magazines on a health and fitness program of their own, backed by a $23 million refinancing he secured when he purchased Psychology Today. That magazine, for instance, needs to add "sex, drugs and rock and roll"; Psychology Today came with 975,000 readers despite boring editorial, he says. Adding excitement, he notes, shouldn't be difficult for editor Julia Kagan, newly arrived from Working Woman, and editor in chief T George Harris, who edited the magazine in the early seventies before Ziff-Davies bought it and fired him. Harris will also continue as editor in chief at American Health.

Smart, on the other hand, puts Lipstein into a start-up situation he hasn't been in since 1981 with American Health. He downplays the dangers, citing track records for himself and founder Terry McDonell, who spent two years each as managing editor of Rolling Stone and back-of-the-book editor at Newsweek before leaving in 1985 to work on Smart. Financing apparently is no problem either. Don Welsh, publisher of Barbie and Muppet Magazine, among others, put up much of the money for the first issue, and Lipstein has now joined as the controlling shareholder.

Already, Lipstein has plans for an editorial shift. Smart's somewhat ponderous literary bent is unlike "the undergraduate humor" of Spy, which Lipstein admires, the "lightness" of Esquire, which he's gotten tired of, or the visual vacuity of the fashion magazines. But he wants Smart to become "a male version of Vanity Fair"--intelligent, witty, and sometimes outrageous, without being silly. The next issue will replace one major editorial piece with 25 pages of men's fashion. That will make it more visual and "more recognizably" a man's title, Lipstein says.

By contrast, American Health faces the problems of its own success. The magazine has been copied enough to spoil its appeal, he maintains.

To freshen the formula, Lipstein bought out founding partners and art directors Will Hopkins and Ira Friedlander last fall, replacing them with a new art director for each of the magazines. "I don't believe in shared art directors anymore," he asserts, referring to their work on all of Lipstein's first three titles. A redesign of American Health, introduced in December, was to make the book cleaner and "more intimate," Lipstein concludes.

The redesign may be especially important as the flagship faces powerful new competition in the form of Time Inc.'s acquisition of half of each of Hippocrates (for $9 million) and Whittle Communications (for $185 million) last summer.

Read Full Article

Owen Lipstein Puts InsideOut
Into the Winner's Circle
July 25, 2007

Wall Street Journal wrote "There are few second acts in the cutthroat wolrd of magazine publishing. But Owen J Lipstein, a young star who became one of the talked-about ... of the 1980s, has returned to center stage. He's leading the resurrection of several moribund titles, including Psychology Today, Mother Earth News, and Spy...

Through the 80s, Mr. Lipstein was the industry's wunderkind, with the vision to launch American Heatlh in 1981, just as Americans became obsessed with it. Often the youngest publisher in the room, he attended board meetings with the Magazine Publishers of America wearing scuffed suede cowboy boots and no tie...

Now more than five years later, Mr. Lipstein is trying to prove he still has the touch.

Click article to enlarge and read the full Register Star article