Archive Page 2

Aren’t We Adults Here?

Try as they might, sometimes even the coolest of magazines can’t escape awkwardness on occasion. When it happens, it’s as though the pre-pubescent kid inside rears its greasy, pimply face and secretes its childishness all over the pages. 

 

GQ’s November issue suffered from just that fate, with the suave magazine hitting gawky patches throughout. I suppose when you have white dudes writing about placing Craigslist ads to find black friends or your movie critic idolizing Angelina Jolie excessively instead of actually behaving like a critic, ineptness is to be expected.  However, you still go in hoping they avoided that groan-inducing bullet. Guess they should have dodged more to the left…

 

While none of the articles was horrible, some writers tried too hard to make their pieces Hip, Pertinent, and Sophisticated. However, many just came off as immature and irrelevant.

 

In “Million-Dollar Babe,” a piece about Jolie and her new movie “Changeling,” movie critic Tom Carson spends so much time kissing Jolie’s ass that it made me wonder if he had a permanent hard-on while writing this. To be fair, he warned this was a tribute piece, but after Carson’s droning on about how she’s the “Unstoppable Force” and absolutely “Magnetic!” onscreen, I started to despise the overrated and overexposed star. If Carson had actually critiqued her performance in “Changeling” (he is a critic, after all) rather than just saying he thinks her hotness outweighs her inability to act, maybe this would be a juicier read.

 

Another article that screamed “juvenile” was “Will You Be My Black Friend?” In this piece, author Devin Friedman searches for a new black friend to help diversify his very white life. I expected this to be sarcastic and goofy, but on some levels, it was a bit disturbing. While you can tell Friedman is truly fascinated with black culture, he comes off as stereotyping all black people because he feels having a new black friend will add flavor to his life. He’s so preoccupied with trying to make sure people don’t think he’s a racist that he actually comes off as way too obsessed with people’s skin color. Finally, though, Friedman realizes that friendship is all about two people connecting with each other and not because you think their racial background is awesome. 

 

Well no shit… 

 

Even though Friedman does grow by the end, I was hoping for a snarkier and more complex commentary on the need for diversity in our lives. All Friedman does is spoon-feed us the obvious. 

 

While these two pieces were a bit of a bust, other articles were strong – Michael Hastings’ piece about giving up his life as a presidential campaign reporter was particularly vivid and introspective. So I suppose articles like that gives GQ some leeway to have a dud or two in the mix. But when you stop to think about it, the magazine’s been around since 1931 – a long time to still be in your awkward phase. So I have to ask GQ – is adolescence almost over?

 

 – Jennifer Brown

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Jann says he wants an evolution

Young Me says:

 

Rolling Stone is pop.  It is glossy, clean, perfect, and so not rock ‘n’ roll.

 

The October 30 issue with Barack Obama on the cover starts a new era for the magazine.  It is now standard-sized.  But it is better to say, it’s just standard.

 

In the Editor’s Notes, Jann S. Wenner writes, “Not change for the sake of change, but change as evolution and growth and renewal….”

 

Change as evolution is appropriate.  Rolling Stone evolved into every other magazine on the rack.  To fix its flaws it converted to the common model of Blender, Spin, Maxim, Esquire, GQ, Cosmo, and hundreds of other magazines.  It is a reversion to the typical.

 

Wenner mentions the only reason not to change was nostalgia.  I disagree.  Looking and feeling different from other magazines has value.  Before, it was its own unique entity.  Now, it is normalized. 

 

When paging through the newly formatted magazine, I thought of Roger Waters:  All in all, it’s just another brick in the wall.

 

The magazine is following the path of rock ‘n’ roll. 

It is not about rebellion anymore.  It is about conforming to appeal, and appealing to sell to the largest audience possible.

 

Old Me says:

 

The change is warranted.

 

The magazine had been in a large format for my entire life, so I am familiar with some of the problems that accompanied the old magazine. 

 

It didn’t travel well because of its size.  It was easy to tear because of the thin pages.  After a week, the cover would fall off.  It was not compatible with gym ellipticals because the pages were too big and floppy. 

 

And changing the dimensions will not mess with the mystique of the cover.  The photographic style of rocker portraits and singer-songwriter close-ups is too unique and the reputation of the magazine is too massive.  The Barack Obama cover continues the established look that the magazine has crafted over its lifespan. 

 

The paper quality is better and there are more pages for articles.  Rolling Stone will still set the music magazine standard with its in-depth features like “The Lost Years & Last Days of David Foster Wallace,” and its obscure rock reporting, like what is in Ryan Adams’ music collection.  It has the same soul and the same purpose of exposing and promoting rock ‘n’ roll to a mass audience.  It is just packaged in a different, standardized way now.

 

David Bowie warns:

 

Ch-ch-ch-changes

Turn and face the strange changes

Ch-ch-changes

Oh, look out you rock ‘n’ rollers

Ch-ch-ch-changes

Turn and face the strange changes

Ch-ch-ch-changes

Pretty soon now you’re gonna get older

 

He was right.  Change happens, maturing is inevitable.

 

Roll with it. 

 

–Justin Cox

 

Hipster Paradise

293i-D Magazine is an anomaly.

And apart from that it’s completely worth the 11 dollars I paid for it at a New York City newsstand on the side of the street. Unlike the other magazines offering the usual jumble of coverlines that are meant to entice readers, i-D stood out with a simple cover that had about three lines of text. If you are wondering why model Lara Stone is squinting on the cover—it’s not some mistake—it’s done on purpose to emulate the logo. Anyone who has the privilege of being on the cover must squint because it’s i-D, because it’s kind of like an insider’s club for New York City’s hipster subculture. 

Behind the cover there are pages of artistically inspired photographs of beautiful people wearing fashionable clothes. There are profiles of designers and models, there are men wearing skirts, there is lots of white space, there are references to Brigitte Bardot, Andy Warhol, and the Smiths. The table of contents has almost no design with big black text against a photograph of some residential neighborhood. There are ads for Gucci and Cavalli but also for Converse and Dr. Martens shoes.

Even though i-D is printed in England, it’s definitely intended for a New York City audience. The magazine has music, art, film and print reviews for London as well as New York—New York’s hottest indie rockers, fashion royalty, and guys who state their occupation as “cool ass motherfucker,” pervade the pages. The magazine is successful because it’s a luxury, it’s a piece of art, it’s cool, and—like any self-respecting hipster—it makes you want to be seen with it.

Or maybe it’s because i-D is printed in England. Perhaps the success of its simplicity is not because it’s an anomaly but because it’s for an audience that is not enticed by excessive design and promises and advice with exclamation points on the cover. i-D is for the sophisticated European, or in this case, the sophisticated Greenwich Village resident, the NYU intellectual. Whatever it is, the magazine definitely has enough money to produce eight feature stories along with eight separate fashion spreads. Awesome.

-Feride Yalav

Are You a Bastard?

Neal Boulton, former Men’s Fitness editor, believes that we are all bastards. His new online magazine/blog , BastardLife.com, is for the pansexual man who needs help with “the vice of manhood.” What the hell does that even mean?

Launched Oct. 18, BastardLife claims to be a guide for men navigating a brave, new world of sex.  Boulton sees his “bastard” inhabitants as a very kinky man who doesn’t care whom he has sex with, be it men, women, transvestites, transsexuals, or transgender. When the site launched, it featured full pieces such as how to tell if your girl is actually a guy, advice on helping women achieve orgasm from a lesbian, and the lowdown on what erections really are.

Only a few weeks in, however, BastardLife seems to be running out of material. Boulton updates the new men’s magazine daily; almost everything is posted under his user name.  Most of the pieces are also written by Boulton despite a masthead that makes it seem that there are more contributors to this magazine. When an editor does jump in and contribute to the magazine, the pieces are usually short and dull.  You’ll get mostly narratives or first hand accounts of sexual experiences or of just being a bastard.  Like reminiscing with an old friend about how before you were married to your wife you cruised for older men. They usually read like a diary entry or a letter to Playboy.  Sometimes you’ll get a couple of interview pieces and Boulton always throws in a tip or two at the end.

The site seems more concerned with showcasing naughty photos. You might see something like a half naked woman leaning on a copy machine sniffing men’s underwear.  Sexy?  The site has a section called “Women We Love/Men We Love” that offers a photo of both sexes in provocative poses and then some witless caption.  One shows Victoria Beckham writhing on a car hood in front of her husband David; the caption reads, “… who feels Victoria Beckham is still a bit hot?”  Um, no one? Next question.

And let’s call it what it is: a glorified blog. You can search through the headlines or tags but there is no way to navigate the site unless you scroll back through the pages.  The content is labeled under feature sections that repeat throughout the blog, but there is no method to the madness on this site.  Feel free to write an email to Boulton or any of his other editors.  The masthead/contact list might be the only thing you can actually navigate through.

BastardLife thinks it’s helping men live the bastard lifestyle.  I suspect that real pansexual men will come to a different conclusion – namely, thanks for nothing.

– Cindia Gonzalez

Changing, but Still Rolling

Rolling Stone magazine continues to wear its politics on its sleeve… and on its covers.

 In the line of the magazine’s tradition of covers of Democratic presidential candidates (ranging from George McGovern, Rolling Stone Magazine Vol. 110, June 8, 1972, to John Kerry Rolling Stone Magazine Vol. 961, November 11, 2004), the lastest issue of Rolling Stones (October 30, 2008) features Barack Obama on its cover for the third time in seven months (“a record equaled only by John Lennon,” says Jann Wenner, the magazine’s founder, publisher, and editor).  

But more than anything, by endorsing Obama, the publication endorsed the idea of change.

In fact, with this issue, Rolling Stone changed to a new format, reducing its trademark large size to the dimensions of the standard magazine.

The move, Wenner hints in the Editor’s Notes, was necessary: while the large format of the magazine has stood out on magazine racks for more than three decades now, its single-copy sales have fallen from 189,000 in 1999, to 132,000 last year.

The expectation here is that the new rack-friendly format will help raise newsstand sales.

Vanity Fair, for example has a standard magazine format and a lower overall circulation than Rolling Stone, but boasts nearly three times the single-copy sales.

RS also improved its paper quality, substituting pulp paper for glossy.

There is much to be gained from the changes in terms of advertising, sales, and aesthetics.

But before even opening the magazine I couldn’t help feeling a bit nostalgic and apprehensive. By abandoning its significantly taller and larger format (10 by 11 3/4 inches), Rolling Stone had certainly lost something, something that made it recognizable and distinctive.

Will it still read the same? Will it still feel the same?

A symbolic baby boomer and the only person inducted in both the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the American Society of Magazine Editors’ Hall of Fame, Wenner explains that the DNA remains intact.

As the media and cultural landscape is enduring seismic shifts, the nation’s biggest music magazine seems to have evolved and transitioned along, and it remains both a reflection and an interpreter of its time.

Also, the move from saddle stitched to perfect binding adds a more grown-up look to a publication that went from celebrity and pop culture reporting in the 1990s to winning awards for articles on topics from Iraq to presidential politics (“Man Who Sold The War,” by James Bamford in 2006, and “The Killer Elite,” by Evan Wright in 2004, both National Magazine Awards, the Oscars of the magazine business).

In this issue, “The Schooling of Nick Jonas,” by Jenny Eliscu, p. 82, adheres to the magazine’s longstanding reputation as a bastion of serious musical criticism; “Can the Republicans Steal the Election?” by Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and Greg Palast, p. 65, is emblematic of RS’ seminal voice of angst and iconoclasm and investigative and political coverage; “The Last Days of David Wallace,” by David Lipsky, p.100, is one of the longest and most moving piece RS has published this year, and a reminder that the publication is a haven for long-form, exploratory journalism.

Overall bouncy, verbose, and hard-hitting the new format, like the man it features on its cover, will appeal to a vast demographic, while preserving the core elements of the magazine.

Adeniyi Amadou

Dude, where’s my cover story?

gqindia4601

 

         Welcome to the world of man-gazines. A realm of testosterone-fueled words and images, designed to cater to every fancy of the straight guy. So you have trashy women, alcohol, men’s fashion, trashy women, sex, lifestyle, gadgets and trashy women, all under one roof. (Did I mention the trashy women?)

         There is no real difference between the international editions of GQ and GQ India – the Indian edit team has done a good job of adapting essential GQ values and style to the Indian demographic. Thus, GQ India delivers all that is expected and true to its name, does it like a gentleman. Which, literally translated, means that the women aren’t as trashy, and the only people who can afford the featured clothes and accessories are Middle Eastern oil barons and Bill Gates. For Indian Joe, the office clerk, GQ represents only aspirations.

         So there is MTV India’s newest hottie, VJ Mia, draped in a bed sheet dispensing sex advice, and there’s Charlize Theron, um, draped in a bed sheet, dispensing sex appeal. Then there is the titillating Chastity Fernandes, (a fictitious tease created to dole out sex advice from the perspective of an Indian female) draped in a sari, advocating sex in the same. There is a lot of general draping of females in gauzy material and surprise, surprise, lots of sex.

         Watches, designer underwear, rock music, and alcohol fill in the gaps, as men are taught both how to wear a suit and how not to get champagne on it. (Politics is conspicuous by its absence.) The magazine is basically a circle jerk of elitist Indian metrosexuals affirming their masculinity and fabulousness through guy talk, who’ve got together to announce their greatness to the world. In short, it’s a man magazine. And not half bad at that.

          Now, the cover has three men most Indian men want to be and three women most Indian men want to bed – a perfect setting for some stimulating conversation. Which is why you are sorely disappointed when you turn the pages excitedly to read the cover story, and all you find is five sentences wrapped around an elaborate photo shoot. Sure, there are models prancing around in the pool of a five star hotel, and men in white flashing their nipples (which can’t be too appropriate for a straight guy magazine, come to think of it.) But three quotes from three celebs maketh a cover story not. Where is the meat in the cover story, I ask the makers of GQ India. Where is the one-upmanship and light-hearted banter expected from three of the most desirable and influential Indian men? I expected more, and I feel let down. Bad man-gazine! Very bad!

          All I ask for is a better cover story the next time round (and $10,000 in cash, but that’s irrelevant here.) Also some politics, serious issues and a little depth, because even though men are many things, there is no need to portray them solely as sex-crazed, materialistic maniacs.

 —  Anuya Jakatdar 

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