Magazines

PAIR OF PARAGONS; DUBIOUS AWARDS; Y2K

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Even if they've never been seen in the same room together, it's a safe bet that British entrepreneur deluxe Richard Branson and Arizona senator John McCain are separate people.

But if separate profiles in separate magazines on the newsstand now have it right, they're the same kind of admirable fellow most people would be proud to follow.

Branson, most recently visible for his flight halfway around the world in a balloon, comes to us via the low-profile quarterly Strategy & Business. McCain, who's contemplating a run for the presidency, is a subject of the January George.


THE REAL STORY BEHIND FAKE FLAVORS

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In the 1989 movie "Say Anything," pure-hearted teenager Lloyd Dobler doesn't know what he wants to do with his life, but he knows he doesn't "want to sell anything bought or processed, or buy anything sold or processed, or process anything sold, bought, or processed."

It was a manifesto then, and it is only more so today, bolstered by Eric Schlosser's fascinating article on the $1.4 billion US flavor business in the January Atlantic Monthly, which shucks away any remaining shred of illusion that the foods we eat are anything other than industrial products.


JANE IS DIRECT; A RUDE LOOK AT BOSTON

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I've never met Jane Pratt, but I have an idea of what she's like: direct, unabashed, and aggressive, with plenty of mojo.

I think this because that's how her magazine, not-at-all-modestly named Jane, presents itself, and part of its attraction is a refreshing honesty.

Take it's December fashion story, headlined, "Where you think you're going in that?" An auditor, a waitress, and an office administrator are given a nearly backless Comme des Garcons suit, green with outrigger frills, to wear for a day, to see how it will play in the Peoria parts of Manhattan.


A CONTROVERSIAL CONFESSION IN FAST COMPANY

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It starts off sounding pretty juicy: Tom Peters, coauthor of the influential '80s management manual "In Search of Excellence," writes in the December Fast Company that "we faked the data" used for selecting the 43 "excellent" companies cited in the book.

Juicy enough that on the same day Fast Company arrived in the mail this week, so did the Dec. 3 Business Week with single-page coverage of the Fast Company article, which makes Business Week a fast company indeed.


HERSH REALITIES; CURIOUS GEORGE, LIGHT ON LUKAS

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It is grand to have illusions, until you find out they're illusions. It's even worse when one illusion sets out to destroy another.

That disheartening lesson comes in the November Vanity Fair, in Robert Sam Anson's breezy report on Seymour Hersh's forthcoming book on the Kennedys, which, he gleefully says, "will cause trouble."


OUTSIDE EXPLORES THE INTERNAL LANDSCAPE

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Readers turn to Outside magazine for chronicles of adventurers who traipse the physical world in pursuit of the limits of human ability and strength. But the evidence in two engrossing stories in the November issue suggests that perhaps the magazine would be better called Inside, since the most profound limits reside within each of us.


SEPT. 11 STARTS SHOWING UP IN THE MONTHLIES

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I'm tiring of the truism that since Sept. 11, everything has changed, mostly because not everything has. Big things changed, but not everything did. You can see that on newsstands, as you can in a hundred mundane places.

Some magazines had no choice but to alter their coverage, while others went rapidly to resuming-normal-life-so-terrorism-won't-win mode. There are even a handful that started publishing in the aftermath, writing of nothing else but adding little of value.


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