They Paid Me To Read This Stuff

By Peter Carlson
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, December 20, 2005

In 2005, Popular Science magazine published a story called "How Cannibalistic Spider Sex Can Make You a Genius" and Bible Review magazine published a story called "Song of Songs: Not Just a Dirty Book," and Baby Talk magazine published a story called "Is it love . . . or gas? Decode your baby's emotions."

Yes, folks, 2005 was another wild and wacky year for American magazines. How wild and wacky was it? Well, let's check the clips:

In 2005, GQ conducted a random survey of 1,000 American men and learned this: 13 percent have paid for sex and 11 percent have prayed for sex.

Hoping to raise the intellectual level of frat boys, Esquire suggested a series of "highbrow drinking games," which included these: "Every time Charlie Rose interrupts his guest, take a shot. . . . Read The New Yorker and do a shot every time you encounter a vowel with a diaeresis (coordinate, reelection, et cetera)."

Fifth Estate, an anarchist magazine, published its 40th anniversary issue and emblazoned the cover with the magazine's slogan: "Supporting Revolution Everywhere since 1965."

Details, the glossy magazine for young metrosexual males, published the "Power 50," its annual list of "the 50 most powerful guys under 39." Coming in at No. 2 was Maddox Jolie, the 4-year-old adopted son of Angelina Jolie, and the "home wrecker" who, Details claimed, broke up the marriage of Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston: "This devil wore diapers. For wasn't it the devilishly adorable Maddox who set the fatherhood-obsessed Pitt's heart aflutter?"

Which means the editors of Details might be the only people on Earth who think a guy would chuck his wife in order to get next to . . . Angelina Jolie's son.

Taki Theodoracopulos got off a memorable screed in his column in the American Conservative. His subject was the delicious catfight at the New York Times between jailbird reporter Judith Miller and columnist Maureen Dowd:

"Whom would you favor in a mud-wrestling match to the finish, Judith Miller or Maureen Dowd?" Taki asked. "Personally, I think la Dowd might pull it off. Miller has spent too much time taking dictation from the Pentagon and the Iraqi National Congress to be in fighting shape. . . . The longer it goes on, the more Dowd is favored."

America's science magazines did not stoop to printing screeds. Instead, they raised cosmic questions. Scientific America asked: "Is the Universe Out of Tune?" And Discover asked: "Is String Theory About to Snap? Or does it explain everything about the universe?" The answer to both questions was "maybe."

Radar, a magazine that was born and died in 2003, was born and died again in 2005. But before its second death, it ran a story on Disney World that contained what might be the single best sentence of the year: "In 2004, a man playing Pluto was run over and killed by a 'princess float' in the Share a Dream Come True parade at Disney World's Magic Kingdom."

Like nearly every other American magazine, High Times, the marijuana mag, ran a story about the war in Iraq. The High Times piece was by a pseudonymous soldier who smoked hashish in Iraq and found that the war was, like, a real buzzkill. "The surroundings," he wrote, "were never very conducive to a complete enjoyment of the high."

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