Archive for the 'General interest' Category

Moss (Heart): New York Honch’s Limited Engagement

My unofficial experiment with the Nov. 3 issue of New York involved lots of pain medication and 15 minutes earmarked for a flip through Adam Moss’ redux of this grotty Gotham bible.  The results?  Five minutes left over to cut the more direct transmissions from Planet Lortab and also plan my dream wedding to the new editor-in-chief.  Anyone who can make New York digestible in under 10 minutes is clearly worth keeping around.


0:00-0:15…02:15-02:50:  Barack Obama Cover and Story

New York banner is almost completely obliterated by the first portrait of Obama I’ve seen where he actually looks black.  Inside, this new “urbanization” of Obama reveals itself as “let’s just not light him.”


00:30-01:05:  Intelligencer Page

Where’s Kurt Andersen?  I actually read the Justin Ravitz item on Lindsay Lohan.  I’ll make up the time later.  Li.Lo’s no account father is slamming Li.Lo’s gal pal Samanthan Ronson, but at the end of the item dad retracts because he’s a “Christian.”  Shouldn’t he just stone them both and get it over with?  My favorite mention is the one about the father’s “noncelebrity son.”  Son’s name appears in bold anyway.


01:05-01:27:  Intelligencer Page Two

One of those cheap New York cutouts of either Sarah Palin or Tina Fey: really tired of trying to discern those two.


01:27-01:37:  Intelligencer Page Three (math+teachers=who cares?)

Weird, early Todd Haynes-styled art really slows me down.  I think the portrait of Mattel’s Ken and Barbie might portent one of the real reasons I read New York.  Maybe a cashed-crazed Hamptons wife offed her hubby?  Perhaps there’s some big deal art heist?  Maybe someone famous had plastic surgery?  Turns out to be about Lehman Bros.  Bummer.  If Li.Lo stays out of the rest of the issue, I’ll make up the time.


01:37-01:55:  Party Lines!

I’d light a cigarette if I smoked.  This page is a triumph.  Tab-collared Karl Lagerfeld looks like his head is now levitating two feet above his neck.  Patti LaBelle’s starting to look Asian.  Stay away from those red, silk kimonos, Patti and Karl, but more Party Lines!


02:50-03:40:  Second Feature in the Well

There are three Billy Elliots on Broadway.  This feature seems remarkably reminiscent of one that ran in Time Out London when there were three Billy Elliots on the West End the summer The Tube blew up.  Next!


03:40-04:10:  Third Feature in the Well (But I Think I’m Still in Thatcher’s UK)

Unwittingly stumble into New York Knicks feature, thinking, wow, one of the Billy Elliots is really hairy.


04:10-04:15:  British Airways ad Separating Features from Strategist.

Come on, I’m not the only reader who saw Billy Elliot in London.  Get on the stick, Adam.


04:15-04:30:  Best Bets

Really bad layout on hoodies.  Candy Pratts Price, where are you?


04:30-05:15:  Look Book

Hot boy in a McCain/Palin hat assuming the traditional Republican “do me” position.  I probably would.  Oh, this is that stupid fashion thing where they highlight what “real’ New Yorkers are wearing.  I’d settle for Corky Pollan at this point.


05:15-05:27:  Food

Restaurants I can’t afford unless I’m reviewing them.  Hey, I thought Gael Greene was dead?  Can’t wait to hear what Pauline Kael makes of High School Musical 3: Senior Year.


05:49-06:22:  More Winter Travel

Shotgun shooting really close to Syracuse in Milford, Penn.  Cool.


06:30- 06:46:  Art

Since when did New York snatch up Jerry Saltz for their art page?  Not bad for a former truck driver.  He’s on about some art fair in London: those British Airways adverts don’t pay for themselves.


07:37:-08:00: Approval Matrix

Woo-whoo!  Liza on Broadway.


08:00-08:41: Agenda

How is just Billy Corrigan still Smashing Pumpkins?  Sarah Silverman, take a break.


08:41-08:47: Movies

Don’t tease a good movie (Rosemary’s Baby) with a better movie (The Bad Seed).  Pauline?


08:47-08:54: Still Movies

Zidane is starred.  Now here’s a listings ed. I can live with.  I mean, if Adam’s open to that type of arrangement.


–Tony Phillips



The Daily Beast: A News Paradise

The problem with the news these days is that there’s too much of it.  When David Remnick, the Editor of The New Yorker, gave a talk at Syracuse University, he outlined his morning reading ritual, which consisted of reading through several news websites and print publications.  As much as we all aspire to match Remnick’s news habits, maybe they’re a bit unrealistic for most people.  Most of us wake up, gulp down a cup of coffee, glance at our e-mails, and check out one news website.  Maybe two, if we’re feeling ambitious.

Tina Brown, the former editor of The New Yorker, gets that most Americans simply don’t have the time, energy, or patience to thoroughly sift through all the news.  Her news website The Daily Beast launched on Oct. 16 and, like Arianna Huffington’s The Huffington Post, it serves to provide us with the big news of the day in one website.   The Daily Beast’s main function is to give readers a smart version of the news and, ultimately, save us time; indeed, The Daily Beast’s motto is “Read This Skip That.”

Unlike The Huffington Post, which is a jumble of dozens of stories, photos and ads, The Daily Beast is well organized, with three main colors (red, black, and white), and five manageable web pages.  Carefully placed buzz words, like “Cheat,” “Best,” “Magic,” and “Must,” entice the reader to check out new stories.

On Sunday Nov. 9, the homepage contained the top articles and videos from other sources and a surprisingly large collection of , seven, original stories. There was a story/blog by Tina Brown, called “Magic: How Obama Broke the Dark Spell,” and an article by Patricia Williams, a professor of law at Columbia University, called “Mutts Like Me,” which delves into the multiracial identity of 21st century Americans.

Tina Brown describes The Daily Beast “as a speedy, smart edit of the web from the merciless point of view of what interests the editors.”  That’s what I’m looking for.  I don’t want to waste time looking at dull lists of stories, psst… The Huffington Post; instead I want someone to ruthlessly select the interesting from the mundane and present it to me in a clear, engaging fashion.

Tina Brown’s decision to not use ads is genius.  Although Tina Brown says that she intends to build an audience first and then get advertisers, why not launch the first internet news website without ads instead?  Other similar news websites, like The New York Times, display over a dozen ads on every page, cluttering up the news content.  In contrast, The Daily Beast presents a clear, attractive news spread that’s easy to read.  It’s a news paradise.  In this fast paced world, isn’t that exactly what we need?

Now, I realize that without ads, there’s no revenue.  But what if an ad-free news website is the way to beat out the other competition?  If The Daily Beast can become the main source of online news, perhaps Tina Brown will find another way to make money.  Maybe, if The Daily Beast gets popular enough, it’ll be able to sell news stories for $0.99, just like iTunes does.

–Katie Photiadis

Barack and Roll


Change We Can Believe In

Yes We Can

Weeks before Barack Obama’s electoral landslide, Rolling Stone chose his 47-year-old smiling face to adorn the debut issue of the 41-year-old magazine’s makeover.  The result, dated Oct. 30, hit the newsstands days before the historical election.  It’s all about change, dear readers.  But is it change we can believe in?

   Rolling Stone’s change starts with a reduction in its size from tabloid to a classic magazine format.  Publisher Jann Wenner claims that this will make room for more pages of music news, Random Notes, reviews, and political coverage.  Wenner hopes that more pages equal more revenue, but adding more pages during a plummeting economy seems illogical. 

Regardless, strategically placing Obama on the cover of this transformational issue illustrates Rolling Stone’s endorsement of the change Obama represents as president-elect. 

Obama spoke with Rolling Stone executive editor Eric Bates to give insight into what makes him tick.   On Oct. 3, the day of the interview, Obama celebrated his 16th wedding anniversary with his wife Michelle. He bought her a necklace, but said he couldn’t predict if she would like it.  Discussing such details while promoting Obama’s plans to address the economic crisis and withdraw U.S. troops out of Iraq shows readers a fuller picture of the man, not just the candidate. For example, Obama showed his sense of humor when sharing that he was often teased by his campaign staff about an old pair of brown shoes he couldn’t seem to retire. 

Rolling Stone intertwines candid moments with Obama and his desire to change how the people’s business is done.  One change Obama wants is to increase volunteerism by expanding AmeriCorps and the Peace Corps.  Obama also explains how Americans can stop hogging as much energy by turning off their lights, checking tire gauges, and being more conscious of their everyday role in preservation.

Rolling Stone depicts Obama at times as a scholar – teaching constitutional law in 2002 at University of Chicago – and others as a regular Joe – stopping for ice cream on the campaign trail with running mate Joe Biden. 

 So the insights are intimate, but the overall effect lacks punch. Obama was intended to be an historic and profitable choice for the cover, but it feels like the old Rolling Stone in new clothes.  It could’ve included more articles that expand on Obama’s interview by incorporating stories about the economy, volunteerism, and environmental preservation. 

If its goal was to be a new magazine for a new era, Rolling Stone missed its mark.  The cover is symbolic, but its pages lacked the same symbolic evolution of the cover. This was a chance to fill the pages with an edgy and new look into politics from start to finish.  Yes You Can? More like No, You Didn’t. 

 –Alysia Satchel








What Can Brown Do For You?

Tina Brown is a magazine brand unto herself. The former editor-in-chief of Tatler and Vanity Fair, Brown’s best known for revolutionizing The New Yorker during her stint in charge from 1992-1998. She then started Talk for Miramax, only for the magazine to fold in early 2002 after burning through millions of Harvey Weinstein’s money.

Now, Brown’s making her mark on the web with The Daily Beast, “a speedy, smart edit of the web from the merciless point of view of what interests the editors.” So, it sounds like a news aggregator – a compilation of the day’s news in one place – even though Brown goes on to say, “The Daily Beast doesn’t aggregate. It sifts, sorts, and curates.” Seems the sort of distinction a former New Yorker editor would make.

There are two aggregators I read on a daily basis – The Huffington Post and Drudge Report. When The Daily Beast was launched, there were the inevitable comparisons, especially between The Beast and Huff Post. The New York Times even ran an article comparing Brown and Arianna Huffington. But there are clear differences between the sites, differences that are explained by the personalities of the proprietors.

For all intents and purposes, The Huffington Post is an immense blog. The New York Times reports Huffington started it as a liberal alternative to Drudge, with constant updates and a partisan bent. The front page is a cluster of bloggers, editors, and contributing writers, with original articles and external links. Huffington gives a home to a vast range of voices that align with her political philosophy.

Tina Brown’s website looks and acts like a magazine. While the “Cheat Sheet” and “Buzz Board” link to other locations, The Beast offers more original content than other aggregators, and gives it more prominent placement.

The entire presentation contributes to the magazine feel. The layout, with its use of images, headlines, and subheads, looks like a magazine should on the web. Articles use magazine design tricks such as pull quotes to continue that feeling.

Like the start-up mags that can afford it, Brown’s also used her network to employ some big names. For example, The Beast got Scott McClellan, President Bush’s former press secretary, to review Oliver Stone’s W, and gave him over 1200 words to do it.

Advertising Age recently reported that more than half of the 20-odd full-time staffers will earn six figures a year. The medium may have changed, but Brown hasn’t.

The Beast also only updates once a day, whereas Huff Post and Drudge change constantly. Without continuous updates, each day of The Beast feels like a separate issue.

While The Huffington Post bills itself as “the Internet newspaper,” The Daily Beast tries to be the must-read Internet magazine. It’s not a one-stop shop for news, but it’s an interesting addition to the day’s web commentary, and one that’s gotten people talking. And on Planet Tina, isn’t that what counts?

– Nate Smith

Design Simplicity at Vanity Fair

I love magazines for their visual appeal. This is why I love Vanity Fair. I love looking at photography and the design. The October issue, is 404 pages of art filled with beautiful and unique photos to accompany the features. It’s a full-blown art book, and not just in the feature well. Take Fainfair, for example. The front of the book section has something for every visual desire: sharp illustrations, vibrant color photos, and black and white photographs that tell as much of a story as the written word.

Like other Vanity Fair fans, I too, rave about the Annie Leibowitz photos, and lush long-form feature layouts. However, I find beauty in the simplicity, clarity and breeziness of Fanfair. The use of color, art and blurby design is storytelling the way I like it and a nice change of pace. Take this page in the October issue of Fanfair, which features a spotlight of two radically different designers at their best. Stacey Bendet Eisner, a young successful designer and Edith Head a fashion legend.

Head remains the only woman to win eight Academy Awards. The layout is sophisticated, stylish and smart. It includes five word bubbles giving her advice. Her quotes give readers, a glimpse into her personality, and the translation into her designs. One or two word bubbles correspond to each illustration conveying points. “Life is competitive: clothes gird us from the competition” is connected to the illustration of Head riding a horse in a pink gown. “Fashion is like a language. Some know it, some learn it, some never will” is connected to Head, putting final touches, on a black evening gown on a model. Head is not shown in her spotlight; instead the art design depicts three illustrations including her standing with a tape measure.

Stacey Bendet Eisner has her own label, Alice & Olivia, which grossed $50 million dollars. You get a glimpse into her world and her eclectic tastes through the art layout which is understated and smart. She is featured in a portrait shot that illustrates her funky style; hot pink tights, and a bright purple dress. The desk in which she poses is covered in written graffiti adding to her unique style. The design layout is a pieced together collage with pale blue and white colors. The design is fairly simple but done in a fun and refreshing way to attract your attention. Eisner lists her inspirations: necessary extravagance (three hundred pairs of pants), favorite place in the world, (Paris in the springtime and Aspen in the summer), and favorite designer, (YSL and Marni for accessories).

I enjoy the creativity and simplicity in these spotlights. Although Vanity Fair is well known for its photography and reporting, I think the simplicity of the Fanfair section is over looked. It’s fun, creative, interesting and covers a lot of material. It’s a refreshing change. I believe that design and art lovers can find happiness in small things, not just big flashy things.

-Terri Rafferty

‘What’s so funny?’ about Rolling Stone

It’s the “new golden age of comedy” and Rolling Stone wants everyone to know about it.  Its September 18 issue features several spreads of comedians, funny one-liners, and a profile of David Letterman.  Rolling Stone should stick to what they know and what has them a great publication in the past, long-form narratives.

The September 18 issue featured two great long-from narratives.  One was about Chucky Taylor, the first U.S. citizen to be formally charged with committing torture abroad, and the other, the obituary of Jerry Wexler.  They are both great pieces that keep you captivated.  The pieces on “the new golden age of comedy” are just fluff.  Eleven pages were dedicated to short quotes from different comedians that I guess were supposed to be hilarious.  Now readers of Rolling Stone can read a quote from Don Rickles about how he and his wife don’t understand the Internet.

Jann Wenner and music critic Ralph J. Gleason founded Rolling Stone in 1967 to more than just a publication of lame one-liners.  Jann Wenner is still the editor and publisher of the publication.  The magazine knew a golden era in the ‘70s thanks to its political coverage and in-depth journalism.  In the ‘90s, to compete with younger male magazines, Rolling Stone changed its mix of content to focus more on sex, television, movies, and pop music.  Gradually Rolling Stone has gone back to the content that made it famous, including more coverage of politics. 

Rolling Stone has been criticized for selling out because of their change in content in the 90’s.  They lost some of their longtime readers and their magazine circulation dropped.  Since they’ve changed back to their traditional format circulation has increased to about 1.4 million.

When you look at the issue you can’t help but feel that maybe all of this focus on comedy is just an advertising ploy.  NBC has taken out huge advertising space in the issue; such as the gatefold in the center dedicated to their action show “Heroes.”  The front and back cover are also gatefolds that feature replicas of old concert posters hawking NBC programming like “The Office,” “30 Rock,” and their new show “Kath and Kim.”  The fronts of these covers are graced with NBC stars such as Tina Fey, David Letterman, Tracy Morgan, and Amy Poehler. 

Although Rolling Stone claims to be a magazine with a readership of young adults, they statistically fall into an older age range; 63% of their readers are between 25 and 54.  Perhaps Wenner and the other editors thought that inserting young comedians here and there like Dane Cook and Russell Brand, the Britney Spears-obsessed host of the 2008 MTV Music Awards, was going to make younger readers take notice.  Perhaps Rolling Stone should just stick to what they know best. 

– Cindia Gonzalez

SI Oncampus – An empty keg of content

Remember being a college undergrad? That carefree time of exploration, improper use of funnels, fake IDs, jungle juice, and Saturday afternoon football games? Great times, huh? Well I wouldn’t know. Unfortunately, I was one of the “studious” ones. Luckily, however, I can now relive the college life I missed out on, vicariously of course.
Sports Illustrated On Campus, the web version of the late print magazine of the same name, highlights the athletic and “outside of the classroom” activities of college students across the country. From grilling bratwursts and drinking lagers with Wisconsin alums before a football game to touring the house of the bleach blond California women’s field hockey team, SI On Campus touches on just about everything testosterone-driven college men could ever need – Including weekly profiles and pictorials of college cheerleaders. If the editors at Maxim took over SI for the day, the end product would surely look and sound something like this – testosterone fueled sports paired up with scantily clad cheerleaders.
SI On Campus encompasses the festive, and sometimes chaotic, atmosphere of college campuses around game time. While the site does produce some of its own content, like the cheerleader Q&A’s, The Dean’s List column, Tour Guide Road Notes, and College Cribs, the majority of the Web site’s content is borrowed from other blogs and news sites, a fact I find rather disappointing.
On the Web site, just about everything is linked to another non-SI page. What at first seemed like an online magazine meant to fulfill my college social life disappointments (I never did ask out that girl in my literary criticism class), turns out to be little more than an extra page where SI can unload all its cheerleading, tailgating, frat hazing and funneling pictures onto the web, and simply add colorful captions that any high school jock could think up. Don’t get me wrong, the alpha male side of me loves the pictures, and what’s left of my inner child laughs at the dirty jokes. The journalist I am trying to become, however, is looking for something with a little bit more substance.
Take for example one of the site’s main attractions, a weekly column called The College Football Tour Guide. In this section, a blogger named Dan travels each weekend to a different college campus to party it up with the co-eds tailgating for the day’s big game, after which he blogs about his experience and posts pictures of himself with some of the more interesting characters he met that day. Not to mention a few shots of himself with some lovely ladies, and I can’t blame him for that. However, I can blame SI for a quality content cop out.
I see little point to this online persona of SI. It seems as though it is trying too hard to be something it is not. Perhaps it is the fact that ESPN the magazine is slowly gain more ground (and writers – i.e. Rick Reilly) by appealing to a younger audience while SI is stuck in its old ways, struggling to keep up in its walker. Despite the fact that this online aspect is funny and the pictures are great, the site still comes off empty and even boring. Sports are what SI is all about. It should stick to that, and leave the partying to its readers.
Note: If that Dan guy ever quits, I am more than willing to take over his position. It would be a tough job, but I feel I’m the man to do it. To contact me

– Brian Wright