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“My Unlikely Source of Refreshing Periodical Plainness: Vanity Fair.”

I never thought I’d be saying this, but Vanity Fair is my favorite American magazine. There’s such a refreshing lack of obligation to BE IMPRESSIVE about it — they just state the news as it is. There’s no peering into the future, there’s no using the term “populists,” there’s no… Malcolm Gladwell. What’s more, they’re actually not pompous — they don’t say things like “The best writing anywhere, everywhere,” and crap. I just read this thing in The New Yorker by Patti Smith about reading at the Bob Dylan laureate ceremony, and the whole thing was basically about how she fu**ed up, and couldn’t properly sing “A Hard Rain’s a-Gonna Fall.” So let’s see, her modest task was to utter in melody somebody else’s song words, words which pertain primarily to decades past such as those of the Vietnam War and 9/11, she fu**ed it up, now she blabbers in this rich people’s magazine, and it’s supposed to be so poignant and full of gravity. Well, maybe I wasn’t sophisticated enough to realize the deep meaning in the rain droplets falling on the orange shrouded canopy, or whatever the he** she was talking about… I’m concerned with actual stories of human success and synergy, like the one in Vanity Fair about Mark Wahlberg and Peter Berg doing movies together, the most recent one being Patriots Day about the Boston Marathon bombing. It’s a beautifully written little blurb, framing non-fiction as better than fiction for its ability to portray actual human stories of grit and perseverance. Berg uses words as if he still means them, and what’s more, even has a knack for the subtle and implicit, stating at one point that “we both grew determined to change the narrative.” Vague statements like this are surrounded by more concrete and explicit things, and they leave room for the reader to surmise meaning where it’s not obvious, which is actually a healthy intellectual practice. There’s a palpable sense of being inspired, within his words, as if this overwhelming electric energy is circulating out of his knuckles as he types. Vanity Fair understand that there is no shortage of news stories to relay, in America. He**, I’ve talked to people who didn’t even know that Jim Carrey’s girlfriend committed suicide in Fall of 2015. We’re talking one of the 15 most successful actors of the last 30 years here, and possibly the funniest. Also, there’s a workmanlike directness to Vanity Fair’s anti-Trump rant, the editor’s note in the Holiday issue. The words in Vanity Fair are not better than you or beneath you — they hit you, and you become one with them, at least when the mag. is at its best. There was also in this issue a story about the Kardashian hotel room break-in in Paris, and this is an interesting storyline because she’s married to a famous musician. Instead of claiming to the be the best, Vanity Fair cuts themselves down to size, resigning to stating the news in an unadorned, focused way. For this reason, although I don’t like it quite enough to subscribe, it will be the primary American page-flipper I’ll seek out in Barne’s & Noble within the near future, and I’ll leave The New Yorker to gaze at itself in the proverbial mirror, smitten.

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