Let’s do a quick GQ for this month; then next week I’ll update my life, do some thoughts I have on the current political climate, and maybe even treat you to an essay I’ve been working on called “Rock and Roll – the new voice of the Old Testament prophets”.
So for those of you who don’t know (but I’m pretty sure you all do… since I don’t think I’ve added to my 3 readers recently), GQ is my guilty pleasure at Peet’s coffee on Larchmont Blvd in LA. I try to go once or twice a week, get a coffee, sit outside and read.
Here’s the ritual. I always listen to music (right now, it’s the Foo Fighters most recent album, “Echoes Silence Patience and Grace” – “Home” is an amazing track. I highly recommend it. The whole record is fantastic). I always work in phases.
Phase 1 is eliminating the double-paged ads. I flip through the magazine tearing out every page that has ads on both sides (exceptions given to 2-3 ads I like… for example, I think Lacoste’s ad campaign shot by Phil Poynter is absolutely beautiful.
So I keep those). I always score the pages with the swiss army knife my brother gave me as a best-man gift for his wedding – this way the small amount of page left in the spine of the magazine does not incrementally increase as I tear page after page. Were I not to do this, by the time I reached the back, the magazine would be all lopsided. And who wants to read a lopsided magazine? No one.
Phase 2 is the creation of my own table of contents. I always use a blue sharpie, and I try to always make the contents on the back page. This is my list of article contents that I actually care about – it makes it easier to find info later on. And the table of contents always starts with the number of pages I tore out in ratio to the total pages in the magazine. I do this as a corrective – it helps me remember how influenced I am by commercialism. This month, Sept 2008, the magazine is 300 pages long; 150 of which were double sided ads. That DOESN’T include single page ads! So more than half of the magazine that I PAY FOR, is composed of ads (made by companies who paid to be in the magazine) that are trying to get me to pay for something they make. Pretty ridiculous.
Phase 3, I actually get to reading. Any time I find something interesting, notable, or provocative, I dog-ear the page and mark it. Then it becomes a table of contents entry. Here are my picks for this month:
(Remember! If you ever want to read one of these, I’m happy to copy/scan it for you and email it along!)
p. 223: quick article about how record companies are starting to look at selling albums on vinyl and then, if you purchase the record, allowing a free online download of all the songs on iTunes! I think this idea rocks. People aren’t buying CD’s as much because they just download them onto their computer and play them on their ipod. The advantage to records, other than the artsy-vintage feel, is the superior sound quality. Here are some bands paving the way: Vampire Weekend, Fleet Foxes, and Cold War Kids (Don’t know Fleet… but the other two are good bands).
p. 234: Short interview with Aaron Sorkin (genius writer behind Sports Night, A Few Good Men, West Wing, Studio 60). I don’t know that much about him as a person, but I found this interview very interesting. Usually, people in the biz explain why something failed, and why it wasn’t their fault. Here, he takes the blame for Studio 60 not working (when it was such a GREAT show). He talks about the general socio-political climate post-9/11 and how that has affected the kind of TV we watch and the way writers write. Here’s my favorite quote/exchange about politics and blogging:
AS: …But the anger-it was a post-9/11 anger. We were going through a time when the television networks were so sensitive toward appearing patriotic. And patriotism was just being questioned all over the place. It just seemed like the wheels had come off our national culture.
GQ: The Janet Jackson – FCC incident could easily be lumped in with that.
AS: There was hysteria everywhere. Exactly. And the Internet [doesn’t help] – It’s a bronchial infection on the First Amendment. Nothing has done more to make us dumber or meaner than the anonymity of the Internet.
p. 236: Quick review of the book Obama is reading… and I’m curious about it. I’ll just type it up for you fast: “In the late ‘90s, having concluded that you can’t truly help poor kids without addressing everything in their lives, Geoffrey Canada, created the Harlem Children’s Zone, a ninety-seven-block swath within which he has woven a safety net so tight that the kids there cannot fall through. Barack Obama has said the HCZ is “saving a generation of children in a neighborhood where they were never supposed to have a chance.” Now comes a remarkable book, Whatever It Takes: Geoffrey Canada’s Quest to Change Harlem and America, by Paul Tough, a story more gripping and inspiring than you’d imagine social policy could possibly be. – by Joel Lovell
p. 250 – Full article about Robert C. Byrd, 90 year old congressman who has been on the hill for 50 years. Wow. Interesting reading about his openness about his early racism and his work to overcome it. The article is mostly about how the democrats are ambivalent about him because he is a legend and has so much seniority, but is starting to drift because of his age.
p. 328 – Article about wine and the best vineyards in Spain.
p. 347 – Article about an accidental cop killing (by his partner) that might not have been an accident. Good story.
Alright! That’s it! Hope you’re all well.