Looking back now, the 2008 Decline of The New York Times Magazine started with this cover story, back on April 27:
Now, the reason this story is odd is NOT that it's about the discovery of some bizarro Suburbagay enclave. THAT story would have been totally amazing. It's odd because it's a big shrugger of a tale. "Young gay men are getting hitched!" And . . . so? It was a buncha anecdotes about young gays getting hitched. No learned sociologists or marriagticians citing stats or anything like that. Nope: just a lotta gays saying: "So: We got married! It was neat."
Was this trying to curry favor with the young gays? With gays in general? With the backyard BBQ lobby? What about the lesbian ladies? What's this all aboot, as they ask up north!
Then came the (hideous!) May 11 cover:
This article's unpublished subtitle is: "Unassailable and Terrifying Medical Observations by Bored Suburban Soccer Moms and Michael Sokolove." Basically, this whiny screed warned an unsuspecting America that its precious girls shouldn't be allowed to play the very sports so many women have fought to get recognized and organized because . . . the girls . . . might get . . . hurt. And DEAR JEEBUS we need to protect our precious Ashleighs and Madisons from the big scary world so many women had to battle and skirmish and endure and finesse their way into being a barely equal part of. (I'm ending on a preposition, but fuck it.) Won't someone think of the poor, privileged white people!??!?!? (*This is a new Times meme). More horrifying: the article is but a foul excerpt from an entire tome of fear and idiocy entitled Warrior Girls: Protecting Our Daughters Against the Injury Epidemic in Women’s Sports. To which I am sure as shit not linking.
Yet the people of Real America did not let me down: A lot of actual women spoke up and wrote that (I'm paraphrasing here) they kinda liked playing sports, and understood about injuries, and it would be great if they could be minimized, and thank you very much but go fuck yourself.
So! Perhaps this backlash would alert the Times magazine pashas that the magazine was wobbling toward punchline status! Perhaps this would make them take note and steer away from the Approaching Iceberg of Smug, Cold, Hull-Breaching Disaster!
They had to suspend online comments on this gem early because of the wicked smackdowns that America's Top Commenters dropped on Ms. Emily Gould (pictured), who revealed through her massive overshares why people don't like her so much. (Nice work, America!) Herewith, the letters they eventually published, which will summarize the article's gist better than I can. (Sample words/phrases from letter writers: smugness, painful karmic retribution, small-minded blog culture, acute self-involvement, self-absorption, immature and childish gossiping and self-reporting, egomaniacs publishing their banal maundering, navel-gazing young adulthood, thoughtless gossip.)
Fun side note: The author was shocked by the above cover photo, for which she seems to have been awake, and for which she was aware she was posing!
Then came the June 8 issue . . .
. . . and it was pretty good! Everything seemed like it was getting back to normal (by NYT mag standards).
And then I read the "Lives" back page essay by Gabe Hudson. It's called Urban Seoul. It's set in Korea. GET IT?!?!??!! Groan.
Mr. Hudson starts out by informing us that:
Last year I left Princeton for a professorship in Seoul, even though I don’t speak Korean and most Koreans don’t really speak English, except my students, who speak as many as four languages and who bow to me when they walk by on campus.Oh, the wacky misunderstandings this must create!
This object of Korean embowment teaches "creative writing at Yonsei University’s Underwood International College in Seoul," according to the blurb at the bottom. And from his writing, it becomes clear rather quickly that when he says he "left Princeton," he may have just been referring to the quaint New Jersey town. Cause this cracker can't write.
Here are three examples of the author's bon mots:
Step on the street and be prepared to get mowed down by a sea of men in pinstripe suits and women dressed to the nines. To survive on the street, you have to master something I call the Seoul ballet.I won't even go into how he blathers on about his hot mini-skirted Korean girlfriend, who is quite possibly as fictional as the author's undefined job at Princeton. Because there's a bit about how (probably not-real) drunk Korean men come up and talk shit to this imaginary girlfriend about dating a (real) talentless American wienerpants, and how he is so restrained and evolved that he doesn't step to on these imaginary oafs. So you should bow to Gabe "Flying Chopsticks" Hudson! Or hit on his imaginary hottie Korean girlfriend, because apparently he's a big pussy about shit like that.
The food came, and our chopsticks began to fly with joy.
Our chopsticks will be flying.
"Lives" is generally top-notch. Never really even below a B-, in my opinion. But this one was an F. The barrel is that empty? Come on, people.
Anyway, this week's cover was about a small, critically-acclaimed show on somewhat basic cabler AMC (really?).
Nothing too hideous here, at first . . . but this piece did elicit a leaked e-mail exchange about a mildly important factual error that shockingly reveals some Times writers are not so strong with the Internet skillz or the concept of not being omniscient. Note that the Wikipedia entry on AMC is wrong too. That doesn't erase history, BTW.
So . . . what new horror awaits loyal The New York Times Magazine readers this Sunday? Update coming Wednesday.
*All images are totally owned as hell by the NYT.