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A weekly look at the magazines laying around Beachwood HQ.

Island Hell
"Settled in 1790 by mutineers from the storied H.M.S. Bounty, Pitcairn Island is one of the British Empire's most isolated remnants, a mystical hunk of rock that was largely ignored until 1996," Vanity Fair reports (not available online). "Then Pitcairn's secret was exposed: Generations of rape and child molestation as a way into life."

Warning: this story may make you sick.

"It just seemed to be the normal way of life back on Pitcairn," one accuser testified.

Indeed. The transmission of culture - be it abuse, torture, slavery, or corruption rationalized by those who benefit most - is society's most powerful force. Often for evil.

The Golden Suicides
Also in Vanity Fair: "When Theresa Duncan, 40, took her own life on July 10, followed a week later by her boyfriend, Jeremy Blake, 35, their friends were stunned and the press was fascinated: what had destroyed this glamorous couple, stars of New York's multi-media art world, still madly in love after 12 years?

"Nancy Jo Sales reveals the cloud of fear - involving the rock star Beck, Scientology, and 9/11 conspiracy theories - that enveloped a dazzling dream."

Lesson: Even beautiful and talented people have deep problems. Sometimes more so.


Of course, the common denominator in these stories is almost always alcoholism and/or drug addiction, even if reporters insert this fact ever-so-casually into their reports in order to maintain the entertaining elements of mystery and intrigue to better exploit other people's tragedies for commerce.

Huckabee Heaven
Mike Huckabee got a lot of attention for asking in a New York Times Magazine cover story: "Don't Mormons believe that Jesus and the devil are brothers?"

It may have been dirty politics by the former minister aimed at Mitt Romney, but let me ask you something: Why is that any less believable than Jesus being God's "son"? In fact, what if Jesus was Satan? You know, he'd come as a man of peace? And if Satan was once an angel of God, why is it so implausible that he was a son of God as well? And is that really any less believable than the Virgin Mary showing up on a freeway underpass in the form of grease stains and weathering?

No religion has a monopoly on rational thought. I don't find the absolute nuttiness of Mormonism any more incredible than the absolute nuttiness of Catholicism, Judaism, Islam, and the rest. They are all cults; some of them have just gained acceptance via longevity.

Huckabee Finn
"In spite of this surge in popularity, Huckabee has almost no money or organization. He has no national finance chairman, no speechwriters and a policy staff of three. His 'national field director' is his 25-year-old daughter, Sarah. Huckabee does have a pollster, Dick Dresner, but so far there hasn't been enough cash to take any polls."

In other words, just the kind of campaign Barack Obama pretends to run: a true grass-roots effort that eschews - even if by necessity - the big money, special interest politics that, again, Obama pretends to be running against.

Ditto for Ron Paul, who is actually raising more money - via the Internet - than Huckabee.

If you want to represent a new kind of politics, you have to run a new kind of campaign. Otherwise you're only revealing the exact compromises and hypocrisies by which you will govern.

And in the case of Obama, it fits exactly the pattern of his entire, if brief, political career.

Tom Sawyer
"That's a groundbreaking group," Huckabee says of Grand Funk Railroad. "The bass player, Mel Schacher, is very underrated."

Only a true music fan would say something like that.

Experience Counts
The Times asked Huckabee what cabinet position he would be suited for if not elected president. "Secretary of health and human services would be one," he said. "Secretary of transportation, or the interior."

Now, ask yourself the same question of the other candidates. What, for example, would Obama be suited for? Patronage director?

On the other hand, you could see John Edwards as labor secretary or heading up an administration's povery efforts and you could certainly see Hillary Clinton as secretary of just about anything, including defense.

Just sayin'.

Trib Hop
I was very prepared to absolutely hate the Chicago Tribune Magazine's cover story this week, especially after reading the cover line: "Kevin Coval, a hip-hop poet from, yes, the North Shore, needs to have a few words with you."

Because white suburban kids aren't much interested in hip-hop!

And when the story's author, Rick Kogan, says in the issue's editor's note that "I'm not sure [Coval] could do what he does in any other major city," I just have to wince.

Yes, the opportunities for a hip-hop poet are so much more expansive here than in, say, New York or Los Angeles!

But I have to admit that I found the story more than mildly interesting and it was acceptably executed considering the venue in which it appears.


Memo to Wilco: Coval turned down $20,000 to be in an ad for Bass Ale because "I felt that if I did the commercial, it would be a betrayal of the community of artists and of young people."

A) Sounds like Bass Ale really low-balled him
B) Nonetheless, twenty grand is half the dude's annual income

Hail Kevin Coval.


Also, rare props to the Trib mag for a great cover image (I'm not sure if it's online; the Trib's online presentation of this story is a mess). But young folk ain't gonna see it, so it's not going to entice them to start reading the paper if that's what you have in mind.

Kid Coval
"People may think they are hearing a youth culture out there, but what they are hearing and seeing are the results of decisions made by older white males who dictate what we see and hear and consume."

Not only that, but when media managers say they want "attitude," what they really want is the appearance of attitude. Real attitude is not acceptable in corporate media environments.

Besides, the key isn't attitude, it's authenticity. And not fake authenticity.

Ironically, I thought journalism was inherently based on being authentic.


Posted on December 20, 2007

MUSIC - What FBG Duck's Mother Says.
TV - The Comedic LA Dodgers.
POLITICS - Wilmette Man Translated Nazis To Death. Heed His Lessons.
SPORTS - Tweeting Foles.

BOOKS - The Endurance Of The Rubik's Cube.

PEOPLE PLACES & THINGS - Charles E. Cheese Boo-tacular.

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