March 17, 2010

A magazine is an experience that you have as a whole

Esquire, March 2010
The Magazine Is The Message, David Granger
(Editor's letter)

"For the last fifteen years, all the hype has been about laying new pipe to facilitate the dissemination of idea. We've watched, awestruck and credulous, as AOL, and then Google, and then YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter have given us new ways to move information from one place to another on all sorts of new machines. These are the technicians of the new media world. These are the pressmen. It's the equivalent of Gutenberg's press that's had us mesmerized, rather than the words and ideas that were suddenly given life because of it."

"The weird power of magazines derives from the unique collision of words and images and design - and it comes from the fact that a magazine is an experience that you have as a whole, that you spend time with, not glancingly as on the Web or in intervals as on mobile devices. None of this is to say we won't continue to experiment to find ways to enhance the magazine or to try to master the new forms. We're enthusiasts, and this is the most exciting time to be in creative media. As technology changes, we intend to harness that change to augment and expand this paper-and-ink creation. But what you are holding in your hand is not incidental to the Esquire experience; it is essential."

I was never too worried about magazines "dying," maybe because as much as I love the Internet, I've always preferred holding a book, holding a magazine, feeling the pages. It could've been denial. But now I think we (as in, the journalism industry), are starting to realize that new media will not replace publications, but give us the opportunity to enhance them

And he loved this parakeet dearly

Esquire, March 2010
Hood, Brian Mockenhaupt

Most of the time, the war doesn't exist to me. That's a terrible thing to say but true of everyone I know. It's not even on the news anymore. No one knows what's really going on and it seems that the most vocal are now tired of asking. It's far away. Reading an article like this brings it a little closer.

"Hood has been the lifeblood of the surrounding communities for nearly seventy years. With so many steady paychecks, the town has been insulated from the economic pain that has debilitated so many other places. Soldiers keep the restaurants full and the car dealers busy, and 70 percent of Killeen workers are employed by Fort Hood. The area had withered during the first Gulf war, when many wives and their children returned to hometowns, so Killeen built parks, improved the schools and public safety, helped build houses soldiers could afford, and lured popular restaurant chains so that when the next war came, families would stay. And when the war came, they stayed."

"It seems plain that Hasan had become radicalized and that the prospect of fighting a war against Muslims had contributed to the derangement. But Hasan also had a pet parakeet, and he loved this parakeet dearly, so much so that he would even let the bird eat from his mouth. And when he rolled over in bed one day as he took a nap and crushed the parakeet, Hasan would never get over it. And so to the guys at Ernie's Sports Bar, Hasan was a fanatic, yes, but moreover, a loser. And ultimately, the loser theory of Hasan's crimes may be more troubling than the terrorist theory. For in all the wide world, and at Fort Hood, too, there are a lot more losers than terrorists."

"Now it's obvious to everyone that Hasan should have been discharged from the Army. He received terrible performance reviews, colleagues complained about his extreme statements, and he made it known that his loyalties weren't with the Army. But it's also obvious why he wasn't kicked out. A decade ago, fewer than 80 percent of captains were promoted to major. Today, because so many officers leave the military, often burned out by repeated deployments, promotions have jumped to about 95 percent. And because Hasan served in mental health, one of the Army's most critical but most short-staffed fields, there was even less incentive to get rid of him. Between basic training, medical school, and a psychiatry residency, the Army had already invested twelve years and several hundred thousand dollars in Hasan."

I became overly strategic about my pants selection

I collect magazines. I'm addicted to them which sucks for my wallet because they're expensive if you don't have a subscription. I go through phases ... except I don't really want to call it a phase because phase indicates temporary and I never plan to move on. So we'll just say, that right now I'm reading Esquire and I love it. A year's (or two, or three ...) worth of issues will soon join Teen People, Teen Vogue, NYLON, Paper, Vanity Fair, GQ, Adoptive Families, ADDitude's (proud former intern!), Rolling Stone, TIME and many others on my shelves. I've never really read an issue of Esquire in its entirety until the March 2010 issue (hopefully this doesn't work against me considering I recently applied for its summer editorial internship ... think they'll find this? Eek). It is brilliant.

This post's excerpts will come from "Doing Without," which I almost don't want to link to because the Web site doesn't do the editorial spread's minimal, but fitting, design justice. It intelligently complements the point David Granger makes in his editor's letter (which I'll get to later). It's a better experience if you can read this one in your hands (not with the iPad) than from the screen and if you're lucky you can still get your hands on one (the April 2010 issue was released today).

So, seven Esquire writers were each given one (pretty essential) thing to go a month without.

Drinking, David Granger
"You've grown used to relishing the anticipation of the first one. The first drink is the one you've been waiting for, and it's just plain weird the first few times you deny it to yourself. In fact, the most difficult thing is not not drinking; it's saying to the bartender, "Club soda on ice, with a piece of lime." It's a little embarrassing."

E-mail, Peter Martin
"Then there were the inconveniences. Having to call our office assistant just to tell her that we were out of dish soap felt silly - and kind of dickish. I learned that Web links were never meant to be read over the phone. And one thing I didn't realize until I showed up at an office three hours early for a meeting: E-mails are really important as a means of confirmation. I felt handicapped. Pitied. And judging from most people's reactions to my asking them to call, fax, or write me a memo, annoying. I also felt out of the loop. E-mail has become so standard, so expected, it was easy for people to forget I wasn't using it. And so it was easy for me to be left out of things. Small things, like when my boss's mom sent holiday peanut brittle, but also big things, like the time I found out about an important meeting just three hours before it happened."

The News, Richard Dorment
"It did, eventually, and thirty-one mornings after I'd stopped paying attention, I checked out a news site and saw that, weeks after I'd heard the brief mention of Tiger Woods's car accident, it was still in the news. Weird. So I started to read about it, and, with all due respect to the Woods family, I was like a pig in shit. I moved on to the rest of the stuff I'd missed that month. The president's decision about Afghanistan, the one that seemed so imminent the day before I started my fast, still hadn't come to pass. Health care reform remained a holy mess. With the notable exception of Tiger, nothing had really happened, and all that stress about what I thought I'd been missing went up like smoke. I saw that most of what passes for news today isn't really news at all - it's just variations on the same stories, recycled over and over again, filling the void until something, anything, actually happens."

Underwear, Chris Jones (yeah, same guy as below. Hopefully this wasn't when he spent time with Roger Ebert?)
"When this ridiculous excuse for a magazine told me to go a month without underwear - OSHA's getting a letter, by the way - I was worried principally about chafe. I was blinded by my fear of it, in fact, made ignorant of more terrible possibilities. I became overly strategic about my pants selection."

Driving, Tom Chiarella
"I began to see routine chores as odd little challenges. I walked to the grocery store and schlepped home with a backpack full of potatoes. I walked to a distant pharmacy in a driving rain, walked to my son's first home swim meet on the night of the first real frost. The reward was ample enough: I always left on time, was never late, and my pants started to fit more loosely. I even fancied that I could forget my obsession with driving, forget my old ways, anyhow, and become a more careful, prudent driver by watching traffic as a pedestrian. It was all about choices, I told the empty space on the sidewalk next to me."

Google, A.J. Jacobs
"Usually, there are ways around Google - it just takes some Internet gymnastics. told me the meaning of wassail (to toast with a drink). For restaurant addresses? On the third day, I did something shocking: I called 411 - it still exists! - and got the address of the Apple store. Also, I occasionally cheated. I sent e-mails to my wife such as "Esquire is making me go without Google. Could you please Google 'ugli fruit' for me?" She did, not happily."

Sex, Mary-Louise Parker (yeah, how convenient, make the woman go without it, lol)
"I could write about giving up something else, like bondage, or Ebonics. Esquire said come on, how about two weeks. Two days, I said. Today and tomorrow. They said today is partly over, and how many times can you have sex in two days? I said you really want to know? and Esquire said kinda. I said I probably shouldn't share and Esquire said come on and I said what I thought was achievable and Esquire said whoa. The magazine agreed to two days."

March 05, 2010

As it ravished me, I longed for a freeze-frame

Esquire, March 2010
The Essential Man by Chris Jones

For this, I'm going to leave Roger Ebert's words and not Chris Jones'. It shows that despite everything that's happened to him, his essence is still there. And he can still write. I was never too familiar with Ebert - though looking at previous photos I do remember seeing him occasionally on TV - but this article got a lot of buzz so I read it and it moved me.

"Pedro Almodovar loves the movies with lust and abandon and the skill of an experienced lover. "Broken Embraces" is a voluptuary of a film, drunk on primary colors, caressing Penelope Cruz, using the devices of a Hitchcock to distract us with surfaces while the sinister uncoils beneath. As it ravished me, I longed for a freeze-frame to allow me to savor a shot."

Sometimes you've got to go to the wrong place just to show that you're not afraid to go there.

Esquire, March 2010
Leonardo DiCaprio's Essentials

"My audition was supposed to go on, but they just stopped it. Even though De Niro said he liked it, I left the room thinking, Oh, shit, I'm a laughingstock. I'm buried. I'm done. Getting that part felt like winning the lottery. Sometimes you've got to go to the wrong place just to show that you're not afraid to go there."

"When I was eighteen, River Phoenix was far and away my hero. Think of all those early great performances - My Own Private Idaho. Stand by Me. I always wanted to meet him. One night, I was at this Halloween party, and he passed me. He was beyond pale - he looked white. Before I got a chance to say hello, he was gone, driving off to the Viper Room, where he fell over and died. That's a lesson."

"At the hotel, I get a three-page letter from Bernard Picasso. It says, "Speaking with such clarity was the true spirit of what my grandfather embodied. Your grandmother has worked too hard her entire life to make friends for the sake of who they are. That's what I love about her. Please bring her back." I don't think I'm capable of honesty to the extent of my grandmother. But people tell me I have that quality."

This interview made me feel all warm and fuzzy inside. Leonardo DiCaprio is a great man.