You have to hand it to Boulder proto-hipster Waylon H. Lewis. In his five years in the niche publishing racket, the 33-year-old has managed to take a rather lackluster magazine concept – Yoga in the Rockies – and revamp it under the canopy of Elephant, a kind of post-new age salutation to the Boulder temperament and all things Waylon.
Or, as the website explains: “Your guide to ‘the mindful life’ = yoga + organics + sustainability + buddahkarma + conscious consumerism + the arts + ecofashion.”
This isn’t quite as annoying as it sounds. The hip design (though still cluttered) and playful, sometimes self-depricating personality allow the quarterly to levitate above the dour righteousness that kills other enviro-spirituality rags. The magazine is now ubiquitous at yoga studios and health food stores around Colorado, and is distributed in 25 other states.
But self-love is not just an excellent business market, it also makes for a great journalistic philosophy. How else can one explain why photos of Waylon as the publisher and editor-in-chief appears not just once in the latest Autumn issue, but seven times. Not even Hugh Hefner at the height of bunny mating season is allowed that many cameos in Playboy.
Pics include Waylon interviewing Alice Walker. Waylon lurking in the background of a ecofashion shoot. Waylon sitting in a field with Paul Hawken. And on the last page, a full page photo of Waylon in a yoga pose. The text offers more Waylon-centric tidbits. Did you know Waylon grew up in Boulder around the Naropa Institute and Allen Ginsberg? And what kind of chocolates does Waylon like? (Hint: it’s the Buddhist ones).
Certainly Waylon wouldn’t be the first small publisher to be accused of allowing vanity to guide editorial descisions – cough, cough, Boulder Weekly – especially in the People’s Republic where undercover narcissism is given a free pass beneath the banner of self-discovery and individualism. So it may be that readers, while flipping through the glossy pages featuring tips on earth-friendly politics, nutrition and consumables, are willing to extend the same benefit to Mr. Zen’s regular appearances, which are entertaining in a smug coffeehouse philosopher sort of way.
And maybe we can even anticipate Elephant: The All Waylon Issue. How many Waylons can you spot? It’s both enlightening and fun! –- Jared Jacang Maher