04/08/1985 at 01:00 AM EST
For those of the plugged-in generation who prefer to do their reading with their ears, a quick culture fix through the headset may be an enticing way to go. That seems to have been the inspiration for the American Arts Project, a subsidiary of a New York-based audio-cassette marketing firm, which has developed a cassette magazine it calls a "magasette." It is obviously aimed at aspiring eggheads with an aural complex. Stragglers with 19th-century mentalities may have trouble with the concept. If you miss a word or two, you've got to rewind, not 'just scan back. But magasettes do offer interviews, live readings and talks by experts in a wide range of arts and letters. Composer Philip (Einstein on the Beach) Glass, for example, talks about returning to New York at the age of 30 with $400 in his pocket and no idea of what he was going to do next. (The alert listener who is not a Glass fan may note that the composer's voice is as monotonous as the melodies in his work.) In another issue, black poet Nikki Giovanni delivers a witty monologue and a handful of love poems. The poetry is so-so, but her delivery is great. Then there's Manhattan art dealer James Cox who, sounding like a commodities trader pushing corn futures, urges novice collectors to stock up on etchings and lithographs by such American artists as Rockwell Kent, Arthur B. Davies and John Sloan. The most powerful issues are the two devoted to readings on Vietnam by a group of writers who are mostly vets. The Vietnam readings were taped before a standing-room-only audience at the West Side YMCA in New York. At an intense panel discussion Larry (Close Quarters) Heinemann burst out, "We went there for evil reasons, and we performed an evil and millions of people are——ed up because of it. Well...pardon me." Magasettes (at $7.95 apiece) are sold at various museums and at university and retail bookstores across the country. A 12-issue subscription, which costs $79, can be placed through the American Arts Project, 485 Fifth Avenue, New York, N.Y. 10017.