You'd better sit down. This is going to be something of a shock. For the first time in its 33-year history, a BOY is being featured on the cover of Seventeen. Is absolutely nothing sacred?
It all started says executive editor Midge Richardson, when the magazine commissioned a survey, complete with some very nifty graphics, on what boys really look for in girls, anyway. "Somebody said, "Wouldn't it be fun to have a boy on the cover.'" and befort you could say gee whiz a contest was organized asking eventeen's readers to nominate a stalwart lad between 16 and 19 who has "a touch of everything going for him."
The response was extraordinary, running into the thousands of letters. "His face," reads one, "combines the look of European diligence with Pacific Island casualness." Most of the entries were sent in by sisters, followed in order by girl friend, mothers and even dads. A few boys (what cheek) even entered themselves.
The winner, 18-year-old Donald Andrew McLean Jr., of West Long Branch, N.J., was entered by his sister. "I just feel like a normal teenager," he says modestly, but editor Richardson is more effusive: "he looks so honest, with a very fresh-looking face, shy, almost untouched in a way, but not reticent. I really feel he looks like the kind of young man every mother wishes her daughter would go out with." Big Bang
First the good news, such as it is, from "The Subterranean World of the Bomb," Ron Rosenbaum's chilling but fascinating story in the March Harper's. There is no one nuclear button that someone could lean on accidentially and cause a heck of a lot of trouble.
Instead there are four keys that must be operated by four people simultaneously. The bad news is that those canny folk who sit underground have figured out a "spoon and a string" method so that only two men could do the job in case, as one of them said, someone "suddenly turns peacenik at the last minute." God bless American ingenuity.
What does it feel like to turn one of those keys, Rosenbaum gives us the scoop: "It took some healthy, thumb pressure to make the twist, and some forearm muscular tension to hold it in LAUNCH. Not a teeth-clenching muscular contraction - the closest thing I can compare it to is the feeling you get from twisting a key in one of the 25-cent lockers at Grand Central Station. Nothing special, but the spring-lock resistance to the launch twist is enough to require a sustained effort of will from the person doing the twisting. For two seconds that person and at least three other people must consciously believe they are doing the right thing killing that many millions of people. Two seconds is perhaps time for reflection, even doubt."
And despite their spoon-and-string shenanigans, Rosenbaum felt the missile crewmen were just the kind of guys you'd want in charge of launcing our nuclear arsenal. "They put in a lot of idle hours down in the capsule studying for accounting and law degrees, disrupt their professional prospects when they got out." No Fun
What American story is more enduring or more endearing if you get right down to it, than the one about how unemployed enginner Charles B. Darrow, saddened by the Great Depression and thinking always of the good old days in Atlantic City, sat down at his trusty kitchen table and invented the game of Monopoly? The Landlord's Game, thought up around the turn of the century of one Lizzie J. Maggie as a way to popularize the quirky theories of single-taxer Henry George. This bedrock orignial was "changed and adapted and misremembered by people who had greatly varying views on American capitalism - socialists, for instance, and eastern fraternity boys, and Quackers, and even Depresion dreamers not so different from Charles Darrow," who, incidentally, according to the man who taught him the game, "asked a lot of what I thought were pretty dumb questions."
All this information comes courtesy of Ralph Anspach, a professor of economics at San Franscisco State, who dug it all while trying to keep his own game. Anti-Monopoly, from being forced off of the market. Unfortunately, a federal district court-ruling last April allowed Parker Brothers to plow forty-thousand Anti-Monopoly games into a landfill near Mankato, Minn.
The truth does not always set you free. Porn Again
WE DON'T NEED A COVER GIRL TO SEE THIS MAGAZINE is what it says right on the cover of the March Hustler, where in fact there is no photograph at all, only a powerful lot of words saying that intrepid publisher Larry Flynt is going to give a million dollars to his readers largely because he couldn't get anyone in the nasty old government to take the money.
Inside, Larry tells us that fierce production deadlines mean that the new born-again Hustler won't be taking final shape just quite yet. He does provide an advance peek, however, saying, "We will try to do what God would approve of in our stories and pictures. You will still see a tremendous amount of explicit sex in Hustler; no more explicit than what can be found in the Bible. And we will be sure to provide these references in our stories and pictorial features."
Maybe Billy Graham would like a gift subscription. Man-Sized
All those years Clay Felker was running New York magazine, running New West magazine, running the Village Voice, something did not seem quite right. "We began to feel very restricted," he says. "We couldn't figure out a way to expand to a national magazine. We wanted to do what anybody wants to do, we wanted to deal with the great American market. You can't have maximum impact just dealing with one city, you can't expand editorial interests or profits."
Suddenly there came what Felker calls "that hostile takeover": Rupert Murdoch bought his publications out from munder him. "Our lives were shattered," he says. "I still don't read the magazines. it's too painful."
But like Gary Cooper, coincidentially on the cover of the March 1 premiere issue of his new magazine, Clay Felker came back. He is now editor and president of Esquire Fortnightly, a publication he helped edit from 1957 to 1962. "It had lost its way," he says of more recent incarnations, "but it had never become cheap."
Now that he has a national mag at last, Felker knows just what to do with it. "Each magazine has to be something or it's nothing ," he says, unassailably. "General interest magazines don't kork in an era of TV: they can't compete? Esquire's focus. he says, will be men. Why a magazine for men? "Because there isn't one," says his propectus, "and the American man needs one now more than ever before."
You betcha. Surveys Are Fun - Part 1
Professional Pilot, the magazine of (you peeked!) professional pilots, asked said professionals to write in and speak their piece about the big commercial airlines they are sometimes forced to fly when the company Lear is in the shop. Fifty-two pilots responded, and here is what they said:
"Delta was the hands-down favorite, and American and Continental roughly tied for second. The largest negative response was drawn Eastern and Southern Interestingly, in some cases an airfline drew both extravagant praise and bitter criticism from different respondents. United in particular seems to have as many supporters as detractors." Candid Camera
High Times magazine, which in all seriousness claims to have "elevated dope photography to the level of a new art form," has inaugurated a Dope Photography Sweepstakes which it hopes "someday may render nude centerfolds obsolete."
Readers are invited to send in photographs in 15 categories, everything from best Sinsemilla to Best Hash Oil, and compete for prizes including a two-week Caribbean cruise and deluxe cocaine-testing kits. "If you expect to win," the magazine cautions, "it would certainly be helpful to send us your name and address. If you're really paranoid, you may remain anonymous and claim your prize upon publication of the winning photographs by sending the negative."
Oh yes. The small print says "Important: This contest is not intended to encourage the sale, possession or use of illegal substance. It is entirely dedicated to the art of photographic journalism." Surveys Are Fun - Part II
Not to be outdone by the likes of Professional Pilot, the august Winter 1978 Wilson Quarterly took its own survey, albeit on a much more serious-minded level. Several dozen professors of American literature were asked to name the 10 "most important" novels (in order of preference) published in the U.S. since World War II. The envelope, please:
1. Invisible Man," Ralph Ellison
2. "Lolita," Vladimir Nabokov
3. "Gravity's Rainbow," Thomas Pynchon
5. "The Catcher in the Rye," J.D. Salinger
6. "Herzog," Saul Bellow
7. "All the King's Men," Robert Penn Warren
8."The Naked and the Dead," Norman Mailer$9. "An American Dream," Norman Mailer
10. "The Adventures of Augie March," Saul Bellow
The Quarterly notes sadly that only one of the top 20 finishers - the spicy "Portnoy's Complaint," which tied for 12 - ever led any annual best seller list, while in the old days, authors like Charles Dickens had as many as seven U.S. best sellers. Figure that one out.