The biggest impression left by the newsstand this week is that Brand 2000 is near the height of its marketing appeal. In a couple of days, it will begin taking on the stench of decay, but right now practically everyone is selling a piece of it.
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.
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.
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.
The powers that be have come a long way from Katharine Graham, William S. Paley, and the others from David Halberstam's great book of that name. Today, according to the November Brill's Content, they have names such as Xana Antunes, Renan Almendarez Coello, and Sorious Samura.
God forbid this should sound anything like Raymond Oglethorpe, the president of America Online, who said last week that the anthrax attacks responsible for the deaths of three people have been "incredibly positive for the Internet." Clearly, Ray needs to get a new speechwriter.
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."
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.
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.
A favorite wordsmith's adage contends that precedents cannot be set, they can only be followed. In the same way, it's all but impossible to know when the good old days are, only when they were.
According to an entirely credible set of arguments in the October Esquire, these are the good old days and they're about to end. If you recall, it was in mid-October 1987 that the Dow Jones took a 500-point dive, back when 500 points was real money. And, of course, the big one came in mid-October 1929.