Creative Control

Miscellaneous Mental Musings of an Emerging Artist

“I only read Playboy for the articles…”

“…and boy, does she have articles!”

That’s a dialogue exchange I came up with years and years ago and never found a place for in anything I’ve ever written. So now it ends up here.

Thus far this week, I have not received any Xerox jobs from my managing editor. When I do receive copying jobs, I do one of two things: I either come back to my desk to continue work or web-surfing, going back to the machine once the current chunk has finished; or I stay nearby and read. I’d gotten into the habit of doing the former over the past few months, but recently I’d noticed that I would, on occasion, forget about the job entirely, meaning it would take a half hour longer to get done than necessary. This is embarassing, and as such, I’ve made a point to stay by the machine more often.

Usually, in these cases, I have a book I can read–right now, that book is Dr. Hunter S. Thompson’s Fear and Loathing: On the Campaign Trail ’72–but this book, in particular, requires a lot more concentration than I can usually give it while I’m standing next to a copy machine. As such, I’ll instead read whatever magazines are nearby. Our office gets many sports publications, including The Sporting News, Sports Illustrated, and Baseball Weekly, and more than a few publishing journals, so finding reading material is not normally a problem. In fact, I’ve found that I rather enjoy SI, which is so not me in high school or even most of college [1]. Rick Reilly tends to make me laugh out loud.

This week’s dilemma is simple: SI just released their spectacular swimsuit issue. It currently sits on the magazine table underneath three other magazines with less exciting covers, and one might not know it were there, save for the sand-flecked, bronze-colored knees of a half-naked supermodel jutting out from underneath the stack. This, of course, is out of consideration for the women in this office.

If I were to get a Xerox job this week, I doubt I would have the gall and shamelessness to remove this magazine from the bottom of the stack, even if I were genuinely interested in reading one of the many sports articles that undoubtedly surround the central pictorial of Expensive Dental Floss and The Goddesses That Wear It. And let’s be honest: because I’m not dead, I certainly wouldn’t want to skip over the swimsuit section, but in this environment, I would make that concerted effort to do so.

The problem is that one of the models is on the cover. There’s no way of hiding that you’re reading the SI Swimsuit Issue. And as such, there’s no way to read it without making it seem like you’re only reading it for the partial nudity. If you flip through pages too quickly–even if you’re just looking for an article that interests you–it looks like you’re going through the swimsuit section as quickly as possible to maximize the amount of flesh you get to see. If you linger, even if you’re reading an article on male lacrosse mascots, you look like you’re outright ogling Daniela Pestova, searching for flashes of nipple [2] or otherwise.

I wonder if the swimsuit issue is filled with well-written articles, or it’s simply a dumping ground for chaff and pieces that would otherwise be dead in the water. It’s a double-edged opportunity–on the one hand, I have no doubt that the swimsuit issue is the bestselling installment of the magazine, and as such, any articles that appear get maximum exposure. On the other hand, who buys the SI swimsuit issue for the articles? And on the third hand–which I can say, because all of my arguments with myself are moderated by gods from the East Indian pantheon–what’s the point of having maximum readership when readers like me aren’t comfortable picking the magazine up in the first place? [3]

On a sidenote, I’m now accepting bets as to how long this magazine remains in the office. Last year’s issue was missing by Wednesday.

[1] On Sunday, I was randomly asked to name my three favorite magazines. I quickly named Premiere and Time, but stalled on the third. Since Salon [4] is a web-based magazine, we decided it didn’t quite count. I was forced to admit that the third one on my list was Sports Illustrated. I can barely stand Rolling Stone anymore, and something about Newsweek bugs me in a way that Time does not. Entertainment Weekly is a rag, but at least it’s better than US and People. I was really starting to like George, and I’d be more willing to pick up GQ and Vanity Fair if there were more content than ad space.

[2] And this is something I’ve always found absurd–that the nipple is the final hallmark of indecency. You can find all manner of photography in “respectable” magazines showing actresses holding their own breasts, or even coyly covering their nipples with a pair of fingers, the rest of the breast completely exposed. For that matter, you can find swimsuits and evening gowns which cover the nipple and little else. I don’t understand how this happened. What does the nipple have in the way of naughtiness that the rest of the female breast does not? If an actress showed up to the Oscars covered head to toe in wool, but with two holes that offered unfettered viewing of her nipples, she’d be called out as going too far for fashion.

[3] To be fair, I imagine that Sports Illustrated expects its readers to have more security in their own masculinity to proudly ogle swimsuit photography whenever and wherever they choose. I suppose I’m not as boorish and crass as all that, which might lead SI to wonder if I’m really a sports fan of any kind.

[4] By the by, Salon is currently in danger of going out of business. If you’ve never read one of the many fantastic articles posted by this great purveyor of independent thought–a magazine that has been unafraid to feature columns by both liberal warrior Joe Conason and angry conservative David Horowitz on the same page, and even post the arguments that both men have had with each other–then I highly suggest you go take a look. Four of the best articles I’ve ever read about Buffy The Vampire Slayer were found on Salon. Go look. Go subscribe. I think it would be a genuine tragedy to let this site go under. I have received no money to shill for Salon.

Current music: MP3 list, The Ramones, “Sheila is a Punk Rocker”

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This entry was posted on February 25, 2003 by in News of the World, Sports, Work.
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