Sunday, June 8, 2014

Prize Package

I see that there's a new movie out called The Fault in Our Stars, which is a play of course on the words of Cassius in Shakespeare's Julius Caesar (“The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, But in ourselves, that we are underlings”). All of which reminds me of the time four decades ago when I was awarded a prize in New York magazine's weekly competition. The contest was to substitute a rhyming word for another in a famous quotation. My submission (which I really thought wasn't as good as my losers in previous competitions—in fact, I believed wasn't really good absolutely) was: “The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, But in ourselves, that we are underthings.” My award was a year's subscription to the magazine and a book on home decor—which was about as apt as giving a hockey stick to a koala.

Over the years I have had a mostly hate/hate relationship with New York magazine (not to be confused, please, with the New Yorker). From time to time over the last half century, lured by the siren song of a year's subscription for ten dollars or so (as an inveterate bargain hunter, I probably would have even sent a sawbuck for a year of Milkmaid's Quarterly), I would stuff a ten-spot into an envelope, forgetful of the reasons why I had stopped subscribing only a few years before (here I should put forth the words of the philosopher George Santayana--“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it”):

1--The magazine seemed to be composed of pages drawn from a ream of onionskin rejects;
2--The text on those thin pages was in a typeface that I imagine could only be named Eyestrain Serif;
3—And most importantly, every issue had as its lead story, “I Can't Afford My Upper East Side Condo on My Salary of $750,000 a Year.”

I was never on the same page as the magazine and its world; it was like being in a muddle of a party where one has not been introduced to anybody.
And now that the magazine is online it's still pretty much the same. The home page is filled with references to persons I suppose are Iowa-born artisanal bagel makers transplanted to Brooklyn or emaciated hoper-models from a reality TV show called The Universe's Next Great Stick Insect Person. 
OK, I admit I'm not being entirely fair. This past week I found some real people writing for the mag and actually read two articles and am likely to quote from one of them in the near future.

But as for the celebrity culture the mag revels in, I am more interested in reading about the latest advance in milking stools.

No comments:

Post a Comment