"a fish, a barrel, and a smoking gun"
for 16 October 1997. Updated every WEEKDAY.
Hit & Run CIV


[ahhh, happy hour time yet again]

The New York Observer's

potentially actionable

paraphrase of Edward Sorel's

"Political Descent" cartoon from The

Nation proves that those who

mock history are doomed to

repeat it. More substantial

evidence lies in the meat of the

feature, the "Twilight of the

Great Literary Beasts." Twin

essays by neo-Luddite

metaphysician Sven Birkerts and

crank-inspired postmodernist

David Foster Wallace express

opinions unremarkable, if not

outright banal: Mailer, Roth, Bellow,

and Updike are getting old and

passing into that timeworn DMZ

between a writer's public and

scholarly apotheoses. But

reading Birkerts' meandering,

solecism-laced abstractions

("Specific failing can, and

ought to be, itemized, but not

here.") next to Wallace's

febrile, solecism-laced

empiricism ("Total number of

pages about Ben Turnbull's penis

and his various feelings about

it: 7.5") is a worthwhile

reminder of how the literary

world works: When it comes to

bashing our culture's Great Male

Narcissists, no one does it

better than other, younger,

Great Male Narcissists.


[pitchers of beer are always a sure thing - a good crowd pleaser if you will]

The launch of Jane last month

has allowed a few

magazine geeks to bathe

Jane Pratt's previous outing,

Sassy, in a kind of

redundant B-side cool

(you could say that

Sassy's become the magazine

equivalent of Bleach,

except Jane is certainly no

Nevermind). Sassy posed as the

smarter, cooler older sister who

snuck you into clubs, turned you

onto punk rock, and let you try

on her X-Girl skirts.

Unfortunately, Jane's supposedly

more grown-up mix of rudimentary

sex tips ("There are many ways

to communicate with your

partner, not just verbally but

physically.") and typically

schizophrenic fashion advice ("a

masculine minimalist or a

feathery romantic - all in one

season") will only remind you

that the peers of such older

sisters see them as insufferably

pedantic and shrill. To be fair,

that's the tone of most women's

magazines, and for all its

blasé, post-cool

earnestness ("I'm concentrating

on what my tummy says more and

more," burps cover girl Drew

Barrymore) and coy

first-name-calling, Jane is just

covering the same

sex-fashion-consumable triad

first staked out by hoary old

Glamour. And in the end, what's

wrong with Jane is what's wrong

with nearly every women's rag:

It confuses a reader's desire

for advice with a need for

wisdom, and an interest in

fashion with an abdication of

interest in very much else.


[one fateful happy hour at a bar called the Firehouse in nyc i thiiiink i had a mind eraser ...]

Truth is, women who fantasize

about spending $220 on

a halter top may be stupid, but

they are not dumb. This is the

fine distinction grasped by a

British entry into the

chick-book catfight, Frank.

Though the editor modestly

claims to have "borrowed from

men's magazines the assumption

that you'll be interested in

much more than fashion," how far

back would one have to look into

the Esquire archive to find

anything like Frank's blow-by-blow

description of The Guardian and

Living Marxism's journalistic

slug-fest over Bosnian detention

camps? At a time when men's

magazines are giving more and

more space to Cosmo-level

concerns about the size of dicks

and (men's) waistlines, this is

a magazine with enough balls to

dis Naomi Wolf in a confident

aside for not being radical

enough (she's the "acceptable

face of feminism, the feminist

men love to love"). Actually,

Frank leaves no doubt as to

where it stands in the gender

wars: above them. In a mission

statement much more revealing

than any editor's note, an essay

by Ian Penman busts Loaded,

citing it in relation to almost

everything wrong with 1997

England: drug use, drunkenness,

bad diet, borderline misogyny,

the Spice Girls. Penman grants

that Loaded's beery

boisterousness started out an

expression of Lad culture's

punk-ish nihilism ("it converted

lumpen dissatisfaction ... into

a dotted-line liberation"), but

then pulls away the political

architecture supporting Loaded's

current bloated state as though

removing a Wonderbra (a job made

easier by the recent move of

Loaded's original editors

to the UK GQ). Using

Loaded as a synecdoche for all of

Lad-ism, Penman wonders, "Do we

ultimately want a mass culture

that is all mass and very little

culture - whose edges have been

frazzled off into a spectacle of

pure, unfettered intake?" Survey

the lush full-bleed spreads that

surround this articulate screed,

and the answer Penman wants is

obvious: "No, some culture with

our intake, please." What's

different here, perhaps, is that

he's asking the question at all.


[wonderful appertif, and yes i have the scar to prove it.  end happy hour stories part 1.]

There's no doubt that the once

refreshingly randy Loaded has

suffered as of late. Only a year

ago the mag's

tits-ass-and-soccer focus seemed

like a good-natured put-on,

Beavis and Butthead-style

meta-humor intended to make you

laugh at the people who might

actually laugh at this stuff.

Reduced to lame puns on their

own name ("They are, literally,

loaded" reads a profile of the

Trainspotting production team)

and more naked ladies than

usual, Loaded isn't a comment on

male boorishness anymore; it's

just boorish. If thinly veiled

pornography was all it took to

make a magazine interesting,

why, we'd be reading P.O.V. more

often. As it is, P.O.V.'s recent

reconnaissance mission into

Penthouse "Forum" territory ("My

girlfriend is a lesbian") only

serves to highlight how odd it is that

P.O.V. is reviving the much

less aggressively het Egg.

Founded by ballooning enthusiast

and foppish "bon vivant" Malcolm

Forbes, Egg limped through two

issues in 1990 before Forbes'

death and a sour ad market

caused the Forbes family to

shutter the magazine. In an

interview with Ad Age, P.O.V.

publisher Drew Massey hinted

that the acquisition of Egg is

the first step toward a

Forbes-style media empire. Or at

least an empire. "Forbes is

definitely my model. That's why

we have Club P.O.V.," Massey

said. "We can't have a yacht,

but we can have a bar." Right.

courtesy of the Sucksters

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