The Magazine Reader

Tucked Between the Covers, 2007 Snoozes Into History

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By Peter Carlson
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Was 2007 dull?

America's magazine editors seemed to think so. They kept finding excuses to publish stories about other years. U.S. News & World Report ran a cover story on 1957. Rolling Stone published an entire issue devoted to 1967. Newsweek ran a cover story on 1968. And Spin ran a package of stories about 1977.

Why? Well, 1957 was 50 years ago. And 1967 was the year Rolling Stone was founded. And 1968 was, Newsweek declared, "the year that made us who we are." And 1977 was, Spin announced, "The Year Punk Exploded!"

And 2007 was . . . the year American magazines published cover stories about other years. It was also a year when American magazines published the bizarre, the goofy, the dubious, the ridiculous and the completely absurd. For instance:

Popular Science published a story titled "Robot Boogers: How Synthetic Snot Could Save Your Life." Details ran a piece titled "Inside the World of Fat Sex." And Men's Journal published a fashion spread showing Hollywood stuntmen wearing trendy clothes while crashing through windows and leaping through fire.

Men's Health published a story called "Men Who Cut Out Their Own Organs" and illustrated it with a photo -- let's hope it was a fake -- of a guy stabbing a stiletto into his abdomen.

In 2007, GQ published "The 50 Most Powerful People in D.C." -- a list that actually included 56 powerful people in D.C. but did not include George W. Bush, the president of the United States. Time magazine published "The Time 100," a list of "the World's Most Influential People." It included Raul Castro, Michael J. Fox and Kate Moss but it also did not include President Bush. It also didn't include Vladimir Putin, the president of Russia, whom Time later named its "Person of the Year."

Does any of that make any sense?

In 2007, People named Matt Damon "the sexiest man alive," Esquire named Charlize Theron "the sexiest woman alive" and the New Yorker published a photograph of two bonobos making love.

"The meaning of life does not belong in a magazine," film director Werner Herzog said in an interview in Esquire, and America's magazine editors responded by not publishing the meaning of life. Instead, Men's Journal named actor Russell Crowe "our favorite S.O.B." New York magazine announced that "the Yankees are the new Red Sox." And Esquire published what must be the ultimate men's mag article: "How to Open a Beer With This Magazine."

Meanwhile, GQ published some fashion advice for Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad: "Wear a tie. Look, is the Iranian parliament on permanent casual Friday? What's with the twenty-four-seven open-collar look, Mr. President? You dress like Tom Cruise in 'Rain Man.' "

This was a tough year for magazine writers assigned to interview female singers. When Jaan Uhelszki interviewed rocker Lucinda Williams for the music mag Relix, Williams suddenly got up and wandered away. When she returned, Williams apologized and offered a truly creative excuse: "I dropped some pink eye shadow on my bathroom floor before you got here, and I couldn't rest until I could get it all up."


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