Right upfront in her letter in W's June issue, editor Julie L. Belcove admits that some of the magazine's recent photo layouts have been called "spectacular--and spectacularly self-indulgent.'' Spectacularly self-indulgent is inadequate, but begins to describe this month's 58-page portfolio by photographer Steven Klein of Madonna, the 47-year-old Material Girl, in "an abstract dance with six stallions.''
Belying its idjit rep (at least among those who, like me, have little interest in "throw[ing] a fun, low-stress shower"), Glamour has evolved into the worthiest of commute and/or beach companions for thinking gal and daintily fingernailed dimwit alike. This column o' mine can't work if people in magazineland approach tired genres with restraint and intellect; I resent Glamour horribly for giving me so little to work with.
I don't like artsy people and they don't like me. I mock their darkly hued wardrobes, neatly trimmed fingernails and Morrissey fandom; they tut-tut my well-worn Levis, calloused remote-control thumb and predilection for fried foods.
Launched as a one-shot insert in New York magazine in 1971, Ms. revolutionized journalism. Male commentators called it bitchy; women called it essential. Thirty-plus years later, it remains a key feminist advocate.
After squaring up with my crack team of therapists, bookies and hair-removal consultants the other morn, I had little besides lint and a single quarter in my pocket when I ventured to the newsstand on the corner. As I examined the wares at hand, I realized that my choices were but two: a delectable strand of taffy or the marked-down May 29 issue of Life & Style Weekly. This wasn't a decision to be taken lightly. The taffy would make me fatter; perusing Life & Style would make me dumber.
In theory, Cookie is a darn-tootin' super idea for a publication. Take the kid-rearing tracts of years past, subtract the housewife stereotypes, add pinches of personality and pizzazz, and voilà: a mommy mag for the new millennium. In execution, however, the mag plays much more like a cleverly veiled Lucky than anything boasting the tagline "all the best for your family" should.
This magazine is serious. Dead serious. The subject is guns--which, like sex and politics, can set off a firestorm of protest. Whichever side of the aisle you support, one thing is not in dispute: guns are big business. So it's not surprising that niche competition is fierce, including Guns, Guns & Weapons, Rifle Shooter and Combat Arms. They're like the Us and In Touch of the gun world.
As a freelance writer, I earn gobs and gobs of money. I throw out my sheets (the thread counts of which surge well into seven digits) after sleeping on them once. So when the May issue of Robb Report teased a story about test-driving a new Porsche in the Dubai desert--which is how I spent my college spring breaks, except for the one devoted to poaching elephant ivory--I ordered my handlers to procure me a copy posthaste.
As a Northeastern city dweller, I'm supposed to regard Wal-Mart as some kind of union-smushing, handgun-crazed hobgoblin. And as a critic/intellectual snob/wingnut, I'm supposed to regard any publication catering to its shoppers as lowbrow, vapid and utterly unworthy of my consideration. Yet All You, the Time Inc. title sold exclusively at Wal-Mart, strikes me as one of the extremely few magazines that ably tailors its content to the precise needs of its audience.
Here is the most important thing you need to know about Star: It is not a magazine; it is a picture book that chronicles celebrity distress. How else did Sean Penn's "man boobs" or Missy Elliott's fashion horrors pop up?