I have to say; when I first received issue four of Perdiz with my Stack subscription, I was a little bit skeptical. Aesthetically, it isn’t what I would normally go for when browsing through an independent bookshop or magazine rack, but I’m glad that I received it for exactly this reason.
In a world where we are increasingly global and increasingly connected—a privilege that I enjoy and am grateful for, most of the time—it’s nice to have a magazine that deals with the singular and often eccentric moments which make people happy. There are magazines such as Sidetracked or Another Escape which are focused more on the world around us and the experiences it provides, but Perdiz is different. It focuses on the smallest of moments, on the tiniest of details which contribute to the happiness of others. Even if we might not understand them, the act of reading is enough.
The stories vary in scope; some are more general (such as the opening ‘good news’ section), but the majority focus more on people and their individual experiences of happiness, and these are the ones that I found the most enjoyable. For example, there is the story of Kim Ossenblok, third-placed competitor in the 2012 World Coffee Tasting Championships, and how he perceives a drink that most of us cannot live without but give little thought to. He talks about it with such verve and passion that you can’t help but be drawn in by it, and I found myself craving a coffee by the time I was finished reading it.
Another piece featured Ian Fieggen of Melbourne, an authority on tying shoelaces. Fieggen takes a task which is a mundane nuisance for many of us and has built his passion around it, ever since he broke a shoelace in 1982 and set about fixing not only his own shoelaces, but everyone else’s. When he sees someone with undone or sloppy laces, he wants to help, and runs a website for that specific purpose.
Perdiz’s central concept is that passion— the way that Ossenblok sees coffee and the way Fieggen sees shoelaces, and every eccentricity in between. The key to enjoying this magazine, I believe, is opening ourselves up to that experience, even if the last thing we care about in the day is how to tie a shoelace or the origins of our morning jolt of caffeine. But if we can’t, there is enjoyment to be gained from the rest of the magazine, and its more abstract explorations of happiness. There are the candid photographs of Yijun Liao’s ‘Experimental Relationship’ right next to a World Memory Champion’s tips for improving our cognitive ability, but these contrasts play to Perdiz’s strengths.
To that end, ‘Biochemical studies and states of happiness’ is a particularly enjoyable piece. It is an exploration of different types of drugs, and the state of happiness they bring to their user, as well as their side effects. The magazine makes no judgment on the validity of different states of happiness, whether they’re brought by storm-chasing or drug-taking, and allows the viewer to form their own view. This relaxed approach works in the magazine’s favour.
Perdiz isn’t perfect, however. In some cases, I found myself wishing there were less articles and more photographs of the ones that were there. The only lengthy photographic exploration was ‘Experimental Relationship,’ and I would have liked to see more real estate offered to some of the other features. For example, there was a short story about Mopar, a man who lives in Slab City in California, which mentions the serenity of his home and yet there is only one photograph, most of which is devoted to the man himself and not the surroundings that he so enjoys.
But this lack of photographs wasn’t a massive problem. The one thing that did detract, unfortunately, from my enjoyment of the magazine rather considerably was the extremely thin weight of the font chosen for many of the English sections.. The Spanish text is of a regular weight and, to differentiate the two, the English text has been given a lighter weight. This, combined with its light yellow colour, makes it almost unreadable without squinting against a white background. This made several otherwise-enjoyable sections a chore, which was an unfortunate distraction. I managed to move on from it, but a little bit more attention to a few typographic details would not go amiss.
At its core, though, this magazine is about what makes people happy, as unlikely as it may be. It has its failings but ultimately succeeds and delivers on that premise. Even now, looking down at my laces, I remember that they're tied in Ian Fieggen’s hexagram lacing pattern and can’t help but smile a little bit. Perdiz’s job is done.