Guess Who?

It is always an interesting moment when a scan of someone’s hand arrives here at SOMA. Palms have been sent to us from around the world—from bustling tech savvy Tokyo design offices to a small copy center in Northern India that serves as an all-in-one grocery/Internet/clothing/rental car store.

In the past, this section has featured icons like Marc Jacobs, Raf Simons, Patti Smith and Howard Zinn, and Grandmaster Flash. SOMA’s palm reader, who always asks that we refer to her by first name only, has received these anonymous hands for years. We never drop any hints as to whom they belong to, yet she has shown an uncanny ability, time and time again, to illuminate specific characteristics of people by simply following the lines in their palms.

For this month’s Hand Signal we decided to have a bit of fun and make the section even more interactive than before. On the opposite page is a scanned palm of a special mystery person. In the spirit of the holiday season, we are offering a free, year-long subscription to the first 100 readers who can correctly guess whose hand it is. To weigh in, email us at with the subject line “Holiday Hand Signals.” See if your investigative skills can win ten more issues.

So, what do you do for a living?
I’m a publisher.

What kind of publisher?
I publish one of the longest running independent magazines in the country.

Have you always been in the publishing industry?
No. Not even close. I started off as a nuclear and civil engineer. From there I went on to the restaurant and club business. After driving all of the yuppies into the art communities, I started to have a guilty conscience, so I decided to launch a magazine to support the creative community.

Was there a moment when it crystallized for you to jump into this business?
Early on I did it to support the art communities, and later I realized that this is the best thing that ever happened to me. I always wanted to be a teacher and a mentor, and knowing that kids are a pain in the neck these days and teachers are underpaid, used and abused, and under-appreciated, I decided that the magazine was the best way for me to be a mentor and teacher. The publication finds young talented kids, brings them on board, trains and guides them, and launches their careers. Most of them wind up becoming some of the most talented professionals in the industry.

Who are your heroes?
One of my heroes is Deng Xiaoping who, after being purged from power twice, transformed China from the backward third-world country to the economic superpower it is today. My other heroes are Noam Chomsky, Jimmy Carter and Doctors Without Borders.

What is it about the artistic community that inspires you?
I’m a visual artist and when I started off in a certain neighborhood I realized that I almost made too many cosmetic changes with the restaurants and clubs. But I recognized that there was a reservoir of creativity and studios there, so I decided to help those people. I was a pioneer of sorts, and mobilized the neighborhood with my projects and commissioned artists to show their work on a monthly basis, trading them with food credits.

What has been the biggest change you have seen in the publishing industry over the years?
Well, because magazines are very tough businesses, unfortunately, it is difficult to survive. Magazines  are publishing more “advertorial articles” for their advertisers. That certainly makes it more difficult. But there are always thousands of young and ambitious kids who are willing to try and do something unique.

What kind of advice would you impart for those who are considering going into the publishing industry?
I won’t encourage anyone to go into the magazine business per se. It is a very challenging and difficult business and the survival rate is very low. I will, however, encourage people who have a passion for it to realize that success is not just in terms of money. Success can also be measured in how  this work moves your life and pushes the boundaries of your imagination. In the end, you should be looking forward to challenges and feeling good that you have done the best you could. For me, that is the most exciting thing.

So what’s the most rewarding thing about the job?
Month to month, you put together a beautiful product and unleash the talents of many young people.

What’s your favorite part of your magazine?
Well, every issue has themes. It’s very challenging and difficult to do this, but I feel that we do a remarkable job. Each section is unique and it is a real pleasure to see them all come together in the end.

– Patrick Knowles

Reading by Lena, who has no idea who this palm belongs to.

1. Strong spiritual bent, especially in the areas of communication. This person will tend to have long conversations with whatever gods or goddesses are around to listen.

2. Although they will tend to save and invest well, money will never be a deep interest or primary motivator. Motivations will always be love and intellectual stimulation.

3. A strongly dominant personality who will prefer to be in charge where mortals are concerned. They will argue a bit with the gods.

4. Flashing temper, but not a grudge holder. Gets mad and gets over it.

5. Will tend to be drawn to things of a theatrical nature, including in their sexuality. This is
an emotional rather than intellectual draw or appeal.

6. Extremely intelligent, of an intuitive bent. Will not over think things—except family matters.