There is precisely one reason that I'm taking a look at Avenue for today's endeavor: my printer/copier/scanner/ blender/kaleidoscope suddenly went on the fritz, preventing me from scanning the cover of the would-be target. Happily, the person who pitched Avenue attached a cover JPEG to the press release heralding its December issue, thereby sparing us the tragic fate of a dispatch without timely and appropriate artwork. I extend oceans of gratitude.
Being as my patience with hoity-toity titles targeting folks with lots of disposable income was exhausted by Tuesday's column, Avenue wouldn't otherwise have been my first choice. A mag that celebrates the rich, frozen-faced white people of New York high society, Avenue presents gobs of party pix and, in just about every instance, gets the spelling of the boldfaced names right. The end.
Ah, but 'tis more extensive commentary you crave, so 'tis more extensive commentary ye shall receive. Me, I have no particular scorn for the titans o' industry, fashionistas, socialites and titanic fashionista industrial socialites whose every after-dark movement the magazine tracks. I just wonder if the exploits chronicled therein are particularly interesting to anybody not featured in its pages.
Yes, the December issue attempts to raise the topical bar from time to time, notably in the nostalgic "Old New York" feature on the history of Park Avenue. And yes, its punchy "Most Talked About 2006" review does a clever job of rehashing the store openings, business deals and parties (how'd my niece's fifth birthday bash miss the list? It had princesses, though admittedly not of the real-world variety) that were overhyped in the first place.
But really: who gives a hoot? I know there are advertisers -- hiya, upper-crust New York and Hamptons realtors -- who want to get in front of wealthy NYC folk, not to mention those wannabes who just miss the cut socially or financially. For the great majority of people on the planet, however, news of dermatologist Lisa Airan's marriage to Canadian (yo, Canada!) cosmetic surgeon Trevor Born in Tuscany in late September doesn't tantalize so much as it does stultify.
A typical Avenue caption reads something like "Sigourney Weaver and The Week hosted a Grand Classics screening at Soho House, where Weaver was presented with a Philip Stein Teslar watch." I almost admire the skill required in cramming so many mini-plugs into a 23-word blurb; I can barely pull it off myself ("Uncle Larry downed Popov vodka shots and Rold Gold pretzels at the P&G, where he was presented with a Fisher-Price bib").
Such Avenue butt-smooching gets unbearable after a few turns of the page. In a Q&A with a real estate marketing scion, questions include, "Why is the company so successful?" and, "To run such a large company, you must be incredibly passionate about what you do. What is your motivation?" Then there are the subtler plugs littered throughout the mag, like the helpful identifications of one boldfaced name as a "PR whiz" and another as a "stunning wife."
The cover feature on the "new crop of über-talented it-girls" made me very, very tired and didn't sell me on any talent other than their ability to hire top-notch makeup monkeys. The salute to the "Little Black Dress" mighta made me stand at attention if little black dresses weren't featured in roughly 2,602 other pix throughout the issue. The piece on "Fifth Avenue Splendor," which showcases a luxe apartment building, and the "special section" on the Waldorf Towers are advertisements not clearly identified as such.
I kinda dug the "Chronicles" social diary owing to its breezy, e-mail-ish style, even if I didn't recognize most of the names in it. Imagine going through life as Muffie Potter Aston? On the other hand, I plan on giving my kids one of those celebri-tarded names, like "Thermos" or "Aglet"... Where was I? Oh. Avenue also does well from a design/layout perspective, though the mag would be well advised to ditch the pink photo outlines that dowdify (is that a word? how about "frumpify"?) the "Black & Bold" feature.
I realized the life of a socialite wasn't for me when, at my debutante ball, the mushroom crescents filled my tummy-wummy but not my soul. Similarly, I realized that NYC real estate speculation wasn't my thing when I did some quick math and determined that I'd have to write 745,000 Magazine Rack columns at my current sub-poverty rate to afford anything worth having. So no, obviously Avenue isn't a title designed with me in mind. I just wonder if its target readers feel any differently. As it now stands, the mag is nothing more than guest-bathroom fodder.