Tuesday, February 15, 2011

The Usual Mailroom Stuff

New York can make a person provincial -- spend enough time here and you get used to things being the way they are here, and you forget that there are things like "people who don't use mass transit" or "birthers" or "Arby's." But even as a Jewish human who grew up near New York City -- admittedly in a suburb full of preppy Catholics and SUV's and generally bereft of things like ethnic food and Semites -- I am aware that there is a limit to this. I am aware that it is weird that there are places in the world in which stacks of Bar Mitzvah Magazine just kind of show up in the mailroom; I know that most of the world is not that place. I know this looks weird to most readers, but that article on "Maximizing Your Wardrobe" is pretty great. I was impressed that they got Nathan Englander to write it, and I learned a lot. I can only hope the San Fernando Valley and South Florida editions of the magazine are as good as the New York/Long Island edition.

Racial profiling is always wrong, by the way.

Also, in a not-entirely-unrelated note, I had my first piece in New York Magazine recently. It's about what New York sounds like on Twitter, and the answer -- if you can take the spoiler alert -- is "it sounds kind of like the late Big L, minus the violence and wit." The piece was a lesson in provincialism of another kind for me -- I barely knew anything about New York Magazine before the gig, and to the extent that I knew anything about it at all it was that it was about and for rich whites.

Which may or may not be true, but the issue I bought to get myself up to speed on the house style contained not one but two killer features -- one on Cathie Black, Bloomberg's new schools commissioner and probably the best active example of the fatuous elites whose continuing ascent to unearned prominence makes me so worried/pissed; the other on over-medicated veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan -- and a bunch of other good stuff besides.

And every edit I got on my piece made it better, and urged me to go in more interesting and provocative directions. It's only 450 words and the piece was about Twitter, so there's a limit to how far that was, but everyone I worked with there could fucking bring it, and the experience was bracing and awesome all the way around.

So, there are a lot of ways to be snobbish and wrong, it turns out. I guess I kind of learned that from the New York Magazine experience, but the previous sentence was really jacked wholesale from the "Ask Elliot Gould" advice column in Bar Mitzvah magazine. Dude gets to the point, and I admire that.

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