Are we feeling sad these days? I know I am. Not stick-my-head-in-the-oven sad, but more like gray-bowl-of-Michigan-winter sad, mixed with I-need-to-read-more-novels-and-less-Twitter sad and orange-elephant-in-the-room sad. If I were wealthier, I’d book a flight to Havana and do the major change of scenery thing. Can’t do that either? Then maybe this will help, a two-parter from New York magazine on the jokes that shaped modern comedy.
It’s not actually a two-parter, just a piece that was published last year, and the new one, dropped in the last couple of days. I like both, because you can really get lost in them, and then you find yourself laughing, and soon it’s as though you aren’t living in the first months of 2017, but in some bubbly comedy land.
Until you hit 1988:
The most influential magazine of its era left a mark on every other: complicated tiny typography, kitschy clip art, little floating heads as illustrations, charts and graphs analyzing everything it covered, and big memorable stories told with an ironic sensibility and unironic rigor. But clearly its single device with the longest legs was the compound hyphenated pejorative epithet, an update of the old Time house style. “Churlish dwarf billionaire Laurence Tisch,” “sex-kittenish Vanity Fair model Diane Sawyer,” “musky, supersuave love man Billy Dee Williams”: Spy’s editors had a knack for summing up an entire person in three or four words. Including one “short-fingered vulgarian Donald Trump,” whose rage at this characterization continues to this day, and who now has his tiny, tiny finger on the button. (Sad!) Their glib irreverence would continue well beyond the magazine’s final issue in 1998; it’s almost impossible to find a funny blog that doesn’t at least somewhat depend on Spy’s voice and tone.
Oh, well. Nothing lasts forever. It’s still funny.
I remember that era at Spy. Tisch had his lawyer send a letter that explained Tisch was not “medically, technically a dwarf,” and cease calling him one. So they started ID’ing him as “Churlish billionaire Laurence Tisch, who is not medically, technically a dwarf.” Good times.
We need more use of the word “churl” and all of its variations.
So, what else happened today? The president got into a pissing match with a department store, that’s what. Something I didn’t know:
Last week, T.J. Maxx and Marshalls stores sent a note to employees — a copy of which was obtained by The New York Times — telling them to throw away signs for Ivanka Trump products.
“Effective immediately, please remove all Ivanka Trump merchandise from features and mix into” the racks where most products hang, the note read. “All Ivanka Trump signs should be discarded.”
The instruction was to eliminate special displays for the merchandise, “not to remove it from the sales floor,” said Doreen Thompson, a spokeswoman for the TJX Companies, the retailers’ parent corporation.
And no one even called the first daughter an escort to wreck her brand. Maybe something else is at work here. Hmm, what could it be?
Finally, no less a writer than Hank Stuever decreed this story the best feature story about life in 2017, an account of Milo Yiannopoulos’ visit to the University of Washington, and the events that flowed from it. I’d say it’s right up there, and totally worth your time, Sherri and others.
Who’s ready for a measles outbreak? Because it’s coming.