Dear Page Six Magazine,
So I think I hinted at this last week, but I've pretty much reversed my position on your magazine. It's become my favorite thing to "read" on Sundays, from Lydia Hearst's awfulsome column to "Block Watch" to the fashion spread you did this week on how to dress appropriately for the neighborhood you are gentrifying: (leggings, ankle boots and flannels in Bushwick; high-waisted stone washed jeans in the lower-Lower East; why is this true?). Your piece on Luciano Pavarotti's second wife Nicoletta was totes Heather Mills part deux, and as we've already discussed your profile of Angie Harmon was like cyanide to our haterade! But don't let me get too excited; I'm pretty sure that everything else that comes out on Sunday seems a little stale all of a sudden. After the jump, a roundup of the competition — from PARADE to the Times Magazine — and a few lessons I think you could still stand to learn.
'Parade' is always fun mainly for its reader-generated content, which is to say, the awesome questions posed to Walter Scott's "Personality Parade" and Marilyn Vos Savant's "Ask Marilyn." (Examples: "Dear PARADE, I've been a fan of ER's Mekhi Phifer for over a decade — ever since his breakout role in Spike Lee's Clockers. Is he married?" Dear Stephanie H. of Milwaukee: If you've been such a devoted fan for so long, why had you never Googled this information before? Do they not have Google in Milwaukee? Because if you had maybe Googled this information, say, seven years into your fandom, you might have found out before his relationship status became "engaged." Or "Dear PARADE, As I was studying one evening, I began to wonder how they get the graphite into a pencil." Dear Jennifer R. of Minneapolis, might we suggest Ritalin for that problem? Dear PARADE, John Travolta has spoken out about global warming. How does he reconcile that with the fact that he owns and flies two jets? Dear Michelle Levick of Ventnor N.J., the fact that you know that John Travolta not only owns and flies two jets but has also "spoken out" on global warming leads me to believe you might have also happened upon the fact that John Travolta also believes that an evil god named Xenu once ruled over a Galactic Confederacy that he decided to nuke 75 million years ago, and the radioactive spiritual residue is why they need Scientology to make them "clear." So like, "reconciling"... are you still following? B+
What you can learn from them: Um, obviously that you need a column like "Walter Scott's 'Personality Parade'", only written by someone unafraid to sling actual dirt...like say, someone at Page Six?
New York Times
The "Sunday Styles" section runs some story about a popular teacher at Horace Mann, oh who cares, Bob Morris's last column exhorts regular people to start sending proper thank-you notes so as to take the practice back from the social climbers who have co-opted the practice for their own sick and vulgar self-interest, and a piece purporting to be a "trend" piece on a drinking club called the "Secret Science Club" that meets unsecretly in a Brooklyn bar to do high-school level science projects. "Academia and academic pursuits have never been so aspirational," says a marketer predictably. Anyway, fun! But worthless without pics of some kids splattering their deep-Vs with the yellow fat of dissected frog...Or hmmm, maybe not...
Then the Magazine expounds for approximately 90,000 words on the "Sleep-Industrial Complex." Like your page 32 story "Sleepless in the City," we learn that Americans are obsessed with insomnia and spend $4.5 billion a year on sleep aids. But whereas the "angle" of your story is best described in the words of Laura Baran — "I felt like I was on coke" — the New York Times Magazine goes deep, back to the whole concept of the 8-hour sleep and how it really explains America. After all, people didn't always get eight uninterrupted hours...some tribes in some tribal nation like to sleep in shifts with all their limbs intertwined and that works for them... and studies in the fifties showed that people slept no better on a mattress than a carpeted piece of plywood...but see, in America we like to sleep better because we think it makes us work better. How American of us! So anyway, where did that whole eight-hour sleep idea first come from? And if it's such a creation of the sleep-industrial complex, could they maybe re-program Ambien so that you only needed, say, five and a half hours of sleep to use it? And is there anything really wrong with drinking yourself to sleep? These questions are not really answered. C+
What you can learn from them: Um, Bob Morris is out of a job maybe? So you can get rid of Lydia Hearst.
Wall Street Journal
The weekend "Pursuits" section tries to answer that age-old question, "How can yoga really be exercise?" Because your heart rate only reaches about half the level it would if you were walking, in other words "as much as you'd expend scratching yourself." A review of Steve Martin's new memoir says his real estate agent dad was such an asshole he actually wrote a negative review of his son's inaugural SNL appearance for a Realtor newsletter. A succinct review of Tom Brokaw's new book on the sixties, which is called something that is not "The Worst Generation." A piece on how all the big retail chains are going to be trying to get you to mindlessly purchase "accessories" to go with your holiday gifts, like skins for Guitar Hero guitars and something called bra jewelry." Obligatory holiday recipes. B
What you can learn from them: The stories in "Pursuits" seem more concise and information-packed than Times stories. They ask questions that seem obvious that aren't, without acting like they were so brilliant to think of that obvious-seeming-but-not-really obvious question. But it's not exactly the sort of section that makes you want to do like you would the moist turkey carcass they fetishistically describe in the lead Thanksgiving leftovers story and dive the fuck in.
In the Style section, Robin Givhan reflects on the unlikely death of Donda West, noting that black people account for a mere 6% of cosmetic surgeries performed every year in the country and that, as celebrity moms go, Donda was not exactly Dina Lohan. "Her death makes one marvel at the way in which popular culture pushes, pushes people toward an ideal. And then tut-tuts when they take the bait." Anthony Bourdain credits the Chinese with every "food worth eating" and Gene Simmons talks about how women don't understand superheroes. The magazine's popular "Date Lab" blind-date column features a really cringe-inducing back-and-forth between a mechanic and a Senate staffer who have wildly different notions of how the night went. (Him: "That kiss was the highlight of the evening!" Her: "It wasn't something I wanted to do.") B+
What you can learn from them: The Post is really forthright and in touch with its readers, which is how they get people like the "Date Lab" pairs once a week to be so painfully honest, I guess. Or maybe she was just like, "you know, I probably won't see that mechanic guy ever again, soooo."