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.