Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Clever or pretentious?

My admiration for this idea, a riff on the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue by Tyler Green of Modern Art Notes (and see the contributions of art museums to the idea here) was almost-- but not quite-- entirely undone by this: "Green confesses that he hasn't seen the Sports Illustrated version: 'The newsstand near me carries Cooks Illustrated, The Nation, Bookforum, The Chronicle of Philanthropy and The New York Review of Books. It seems not to carry Sports Illustrated.'"

You're already tweaking SI and propagating great works of art. Do you really need to further prove your high-culture bona fides with this kind of "I don't even own a television" tedium?

In addition to being absurdly and unnecessarily pretentious (look at that list! Surely you local newsagent carries something else; the only purpose of that list is culture-status grabbing), I just don't believe it. The kind of bookstore newsstands that carry The Chronicle of Philanthropy (not many!) carry pretty nearly everything. They might sell out of the swimsuit issue; they don't not carry it. And the places that can support such highbrow newsstands (big cities and some college towns) also support more than one newsstand. In that kind of place, one's eyes are eventually sullied by passing over the cover of a magazine that is less highbrow than one's own tastes. One grits one's teeth and endures; one need not fib about the experience.