Saturday, December 30, 2006


Recently I mentioned my addiction to glossy magazines. In recent years, I've pared down subscriptions but I still take Dwell, Fiber Arts, Ornament and Lapidary Journal.

I'm finally going to admit it's over and let go of my one long-time favorite. The relationship is dead and editor Graydon Carter killed it.

Last night I went through a couple years' worth of Vanity Fair magazines--many still inside the original plastic mailer sleeve--and I have concluded that Mr. Carter's magazine is nigh unreadable these days.

Mr. Carter started Spy magazine in the 80s with his partner Kurt Anderson. Spy was a superb magazine full of fun. My favorite issue featured a lick-and-stick tattoo of Gorbachev's port-wine stain - how could you not love that? Spy featured a vile poke-in-the-eye called "Separated at Birth" in which they would publish beastly photos of celebrities that looked vaguely similar. Drew Friedman would do an illustration every month that was something like "private lives of public figures." I remember one of these had David Byrne and Paul Simon in safari gear bumping into each other while exploring a jungle in search of some primitive culture's music to exploit. There was also "Logrolling" in which they published and ridiculed the tendency of authors to "blurb" for each others' bookjackets. It was no-holds-barred, brilliant send-up of pop culture and celebrity.

Sometime in the mid-90s Carter took the helm as editor at Vanity Fair.

Today's Vanity Fair would rate high on the list of sycophantic star-intercoursing publications that Spy would have soundly lambasted.

When I first started reading VF about 20 years ago, it was an always-intriguing collection of articles about things social and political happening in the US and around the world. There were occasional celebrity features, but it wasn't the perennial right-bashing/Hollywood stroke-fest of today. The day a new issue would arrive I would clear the decks and sit down and read the thing from cover-to-cover. Happy times.

In 2003, Graydon Carter said his one goal was to prevent George W. Bush from being re-elected. Seriously?!!! A magazine editor (Canadian, come to that) thinks he holds sway with the public in such a way? Well, GC's campaigning didn't end in November 2004, for on the front of each issue is a teaser for at least one feature story on how evil GWB is. OK, we get it--you hate the guy!-- now stop beating us over the head with it.

The features on the issue above (September '06) include "Dubya vs. Daddy: what really goes on between the Bush presidents" and "What the Air Force didn't do on 9/11." (note the italics are theirs and not merely my insertion) If this were just a personal vendetta that simply stopped with the Bushes, that would be one thing, but going on to impugn our armed forces is beyond the pale. Of course, they would say the corruption of our military comes from the very executive office, but there is an impossible-to-ignore tone of abject abhorrence for our military and our fellow citizens who comprise its ranks. [When piece-of-shit retards lambast the men and women who put their lives on the line to ensure their very constitutional rights, well, "piece-of-shit retards" doesn't quite go far enough.]

So that's it: I'm done. If there's only one article of 3 issues I'd really like to read, I can do what people smarter than me do and sit on the bench at Barnes & Noble and read the article without giving them any more of my money. So this is my little protest, my tempest in a teapot, my so-many-bit message to Vanity Fair: call me when you've fired Graydon Carter. I'm not holding my breath.

12 comments:

Anonymous said...

Every once and a while Chris Hitchens has something interesting to say in there, but I just go to his web site and read it there.

First Nations said...

couldn't agree more. i recall VF when it was worth a read, back when it was considered The National Enquirer of the educated, back when it was TOO ultra-ironic to be seen with a copy (back when I dressed like Neo from the Matrix and wore black lipstick.) anymore it's like one long chanel ad.
DWELL, on the other hand, kicks ass! my daughter turned me on to it.
excellent article, fa.

Cait said...

Amen, Sister. I USED TO look forward to each new issue but no more. As a 25 year "veteran Army wife" I learned early on to blow off whatever that blow hard was pontificating on in any given issue under the guise of opinions from the "editor". VF is as rabidly anti-military as it comes and if I wanted to be pizz'd off about biased opionions and subjective reporting I could simply tune into National Propaganda Radio and listen to them rant for free. Like you, I didn't renew my 'script this year. Enuf is enuf...harumph. I will, however, miss Dominic Dunne and the Proust questionaire. *sigh*
Cheers,
Cait

Leazwell said...

You hung on longer than I. I gave up VF around 1996.

sudiegirl said...

I usually get Vanity Fair for the pictures, if I get it at all.

But I do have a copy of "Spy High", a faux yearbook with celebrities in it. Oh it was a jolly thing to see celebrities made fun of in yearbook format.

nein said...

I subscribed to that luerzers thing last week, it's sadly poetic.

Happy New Years.

Anonymous said...

I had the most recent issue in the bathroom. On the cover it said Pres Bush slaughters wild mustangs.

That was it for me. It went into the trash before I even opened it.

Zelda said...

For me, fashion magazines are infinitely less interesting than watching paint dry. And while I greatly admire genuinely unique and creative artistic sensibilities, the bottled and canned trends exploited by fashion mags leave me content with as simple a personal style as possible.

But I can see how someone who cares more about it than I do would have a hard time giving them up, so I thank you for your stand. Our military needs our support more than ever now.

Tam said...

I used to miss Spy.

Knowing what it might have turned into, I'm glad it passed away while it was still funny.

Steve F said...

I arrive two years late to tell you that I agree.

He's got a Bush countdown clock on the VF web site. 'Tis a bit pathetic.

phlegmfatale said...

steve f - teh very thought of him annoys me, but I think of him SOOOOO much less now that magazine is not coming to my mailbox. thanks for coming by, steve!

phlegmfatale said...

steve f - teh very thought of him annoys me, but I think of him SOOOOO much less now that magazine is not coming to my mailbox. thanks for coming by, steve!