Commentary

New York

At the recent National Magazine Awards ceremony, New York magazine blew the roof off the joint, (and it was Lincoln Center -- a fancy joint) when its editors carted away a total of five awards, including one for general excellence for a second year in a row, another for the Strategist section, and another for design. (The mag's new Fashion Week blog also won in an interactive category.) Not incidentally, the venerable New Yorker, yes, the New Yorker, won nothing.

So viva La Renaissance, or something. Certainly, since its inception almost 40 years ago as a pioneering city weekly, (and home of the ''New Journalism'') founded by legendary editor Clay Felker and design god Milton Glaser, the magazine has had its share of genius and/ or/ overreaching/and/ or clueless owners, editors, and designers.

It's alive, though, a claim not many of its ''lifestyle'' imitators can make these days, and what's more, there is much to admire in editor Adam Moss' pages. He was hired by new owner Bruce Wasserstein in 2004, and has revived the now-classic form with several excellent sections. A fave of mine is ''The Look Book'' in which individual New Yorkers preen for the camera as they're photographed from head to toe, and seem to delight in explaining the intricacies of their fashion excesses ( however elegant or foolish) like smug but oblivious Edith Wharton characters, updated for the 21st century. I also like the expanded Intelligencer section, which this week features a story that begins with ''Millions of clams have expired recently at the East Hampton Town Shellfish hatchery, and no one can figure out why.'' (The jokes about millions of clams in the town of East Hampton just write themselves, folks.)

And while clearly Spy magazine-derived, in terms of putting things on a grid and comparing them, another addition, ''The Approval Matrix'' attempts to chart the culture each week, from Highbrow to Lowbrow, and Despicable to Brilliant, and all in all, is usually pretty brilliant. (In another good move, Moss hired Kurt Anderson, a previous editor of New York, and co-founder of Spy, to write a regular column, so the appropriation seems a little more allowable.)

Last week's issue, which covered the difficult subject of cancer survivors, was first-rate.

So what the hell were Moss et al. thinking, letting longtime contributor/madman Jim Cramer hang himself (and bore us to death) with this week's cover story? I'm hoping it's some sort of meta-joke that I don't get, because we haven't seen this much self-pity and self-aggrandizement (and, not to mention, bad writing ) concentrated in one place since O.J. dictated If I Did It.

I don't know the guy, but I've always appreciated his jerky energy and marveled at his manic multi-media productivity (columns, books, radio, TV) never mind the making-of-billions-of-dollars-at-a-hedge-fund part. I've seen ''Mad Money,'' his CNBC show, a couple of times, and thought the obvious bull/bear sound effects and jokes were pretty goony, but worked for him.

But this screed is filled with disastrously self-involved, disingenuous questions like ''Why do people care so much about this Cramer bozo?'' I really didn't know they did. Talk about protesting too much.

There's really nothing bearable in the piece. Cramer seems to think that if he keeps putting himself down, in paroxysms of self-loathing, we'll love him more. But I don't buy it for a second. ''I'm a loudmouthed... idiot, but my audience is smart,'' is another point he harps on, but then contradicts at every turn. For example, he later explains that the ''lightning round'' is the ''most lightweight'' part of his show, so he lets the viewers pick the stocks -- "which means there might not be anything worth hearing about on any given night.'' And he manage to get in the fact that he's a ''Harvard-trained lawyer," with a Harvard-trained lawyer as counsel.

Cramer also maintains that he has a huge college following (which he does) because that audience is hungering for authenticity. Booya!

The big question of the piece is ''Why do people hate me?'' His only answer is another narcissistic conundrum: that despite his great success and fame, he remains utterly repulsive to himself.

Um, can we send one of those awards back?

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