Between the toilet and the bowl. I’m shifting in my seat just thinking about it. I’m also thinking of about a dozen crude and ugly things to say in response, but since this is the Breakfast Table and not the Bar Stool, I won’t share them.
But speaking of dicks, I’m glad you brought up Steve Brill. The saddest thing about Brill is that he’s a genuinely smart guy who has destroyed his reputation, become a joke among his peers, and wasted a ton of cash, all for the sake of … what? That silly magazine? The chance to make morally superior noises on cable once in a while? I don’t understand it.
A few years ago I went out to lunch with Brill and came away impressed. He spent the entire meal explaining why we ought to put television cameras in every courtroom in America. The O.J. spectacle was in full bloom at the time, and I remember thinking that it took pretty hefty stones to contend that anyone (apart from, say, those with a financial stake in Court TV) could benefit from a televised trial. But Brill did. Ludicrous, I said. He came back at me with such force and with what seemed like such a tight argument that by the end I was almost ready to agree that what the Supreme Court really needs is more TelePrompTers, maybe a lavaliere mike or two. That’d make the legal system more efficient and just.
I’m happy to say I recovered my senses shortly after leaving the restaurant. But my impression of Brill as a vigorous, capable guy remained. Until he put his own name in the title of his magazine, and in a thousand other ways made an ass of himself. What a waste. It still depresses me to see him on television.
Just as it depresses me to see a magazine I work for flayed in the Monday business section of the New York Times. I hope you won’t think less of me for taking a huge, cringing pass on that story. Media conglomerates and the use of actors to sell magazines are two topics that make me pretty uncomfortable (though I know so little about Hollywood that most of the time I have no idea who’s being synergized and who’s not), so yesterday’s Times piece was particularly hard for me to get through.
It did leave me wondering, and not for the first time, who these people are who buy magazines based on the celebrity cover photo. Here’s my thinking on the subject: Magazine buyers are people who’ve chosen reading over watching television or going to the mall or playing video games as a form of entertainment. This is a relatively small group of people, presumably more literate–or at least interested in becoming more literate–than the average person. Yet these are also people who will buy a magazine simply because it has a photograph Ricky Martin on the cover (though not necessarily a real story about him inside)? Can this be true? Help me here. I’m getting depressed again.