Since he's written about virtually everything else, million-dollar author Norman Mailer has finally penned his own obituary in the September issue of Boston magazine:
"Norman Mailer passed away yesterday after celebrating his 15th divorce and 16th wedding. He was renowned in publishing circles for his blend of fictional journalism and factual fiction, termed by literary critic William Buckley Contemporaneous Ratiocinative Aesthetical Prolegomena. Buckley was consequently sued by Mailer for malicious construction of invidious acronyms. 'Norman does take himself seriously,' was Mr. Buckley's reply. 'Of course, he is the last of those who do . . . .'
"When asked on occasion why he married so often, the former Pulitzer-prize winner replied, 'To get divorced. You don't know anything about a woman until you meet her in court.'"
Newsweek, Inc., as the masthead calls it, has squared off against Time Inc. in the athletics department. Newsweek's new monthly called Inside Sports goes up against weekly Sports Illustrated this month.
Although SI has been publishing quality copy for a quarter-century, IS may well give it some stiff competition. What the new magazine loses in topicality with its long lead time, it makes up for with crackerjack writing, snappy layout and expensive perfect binding that gives it the overall feel of an old copy of Esquire edited for jocks. If SI attempts to convey the action of athletics, IS shoots for the guts of the players and fans.
The premier issue, with six regional covers but identical 134-page editorial content, ranges delightfully from jogging as a spectator sport to breezy profiles on Mike Schmidt (including a beefcake portrait by photographer Francesco Scavullo) and Sugar Ray Leonard ("I'm seeing three guys out there," he tells Dundee in the corner. "Go for the one in the middle," Dundee advises). And from observations on players traveling in airplanes by Roy Blount Jr. to "Fan's Notes" author Frederick Exley on Superbowl XIII to an incisive view of Washington and the Redskins by Sandy Grady:
"Living in Washington this autumn of 1979 is like being in the clubhouse of an Old Timers 'game. Nearly everybody talks in the past tense. Proust would have loved this town.
"Washington . . . has one of the highest per capita incomes in the U.S. It's a Chivas Regal, Volvo, Adidas kind of town without the blue collar fans that knock down turnstiles in other Eastern cities.
"But the Redskins are another story. At parties the talk is not of Ted Kennedy or Ham Jordan, nuke power or synthetic fuels -- it's 'what's the point spread?'"
It's tough with a new magazine to single out one paragraph of writing that somehow characterizes the literary dimension of the whole undertaking, but this one -- by "Fan's Notes" author Fred Exley, unleashed on Super Bowl XIII -- jumps from the page:
"A number of questions had been directed to a possible Pete Rozelle Bown XIII-related terrorist incident and the measures that were being taken to prevent such a horror, but I couldn't help thinking that if terrorism ever did reach our shores that there would be no more obvious place to strike than at this ostentatiously pompous display of power, privilege, and plenty. If terrorists were anything other than a bunch of cowardly, spaced-out crazies slaughtering the innocents -- and if nothing else they were certainly that -- if Yasir Arafat, the late Abu Hassan, and their spiritual or lunatic brothers around the world were perhaps dedicated, intelligent members of the Fourth World or the have-have-nots conveying their carnal, bloody, and awesomely terrible message to the haves, then where better to hit them in this very ballroom where we reporters were absorbing Rozelle's idiocy and turning it into more idiocy for the folks back home to help Rozelle sell "the Product" to Chryslter, Schlitz, Union Carbide, Champion Spark Plugs, IBM, McDonald's and Memorex, who were, in turn giving NBC $370,000 per commercial minute to sell their Big Macs." Bed and the Boards
Speaking of sports, macho fans take note: Many of your heroes find that sex and athletic performance do not combine well. Says Larry Kenon of the San Antonio Spurs: "It makes my legs weak."
The poll is reported in the October Forum. Some other replies: Jim Brown: "I never participated in sex the night before a game." Kareem Abdul-Jabbar of the Los Angeles Lakers: "I don't get involved with women. There's no need to tire yourself." More CIA Mistakes?
As if the federal government doesn't have enough problems, the fall issue of Foreign Policy claims that the CIA has made "staggering errors" that have "pervaded U.S. strategic behavior over the past 15 years."
In addition to easing "the Soviet Union into a relatively more assertive role on the world stage," the agency, says the article, searched desperately in its dealings with Nicaragua for a link between Cuba and the rebel forces that would undermine support for the Sandinista movement.
"Washington seems incapable of understanding the nature and implications of a popular insurrection against tyranny," Richard R. Fagen writes. "Even after Iran, whenever rebellion breaks out anywhere, Washington sees disorder, chaos and uncertainty -- opportunities for the communists. What is never perceived nor understood is the logic of the insurrection, its mass character, its essential legitimacy, its order and architecture, expressed in the willingness of tens of thousands to persevere, suffer, and die if necessary." Births
Three new ones:
Books & Arts, a bi-weekly from the Chronicle of Higher Education, with in-depth glimpses at virtually every art form, including magazines! A good-looking tabloid that's a cross between the New York Review of Books and the cultural pages of the old National Observer ( $15 annually from Box 584, Highstown, N.J. 08520).
Management, a bi-monthly for government bureaucrats, published by the U.S. Office of Personnel Management. Although the layout is a bit busy, this one is surprisingly good-looking for a government publication and includes a wryly self-deprecating essay on management by Adm. Hyman Rickover:
"I do not hold much hope for [the American public regaining their trust in federal government] before a major disaster befalls the U.S." (Send no money now to the Superintendent of Documents, Government Printing Office, Washington, D.C. 20401; you will be billed approximately $8 for a one-year subscription.)
The Picture Paper, monthly tabloid collection of photographs by known and unknown artists that approaches the surrealism of WET (the magazine of gourmet bathing). The ads are as delicious as the editorial content. ($7.50 annually from 104 West San Francisco St., Santa Fe, N.M. 87501.) Dearths
If you're getting annoyed at the newsprint that's been showing up in sections of People and Sports Illustrated, be prepared for it in the next few weeks in Time.
Stuck with a paper shortabe caused by a June and July strike at the St. Regis Paper Co. in Bucksport, Maine, Time, Inc. was forced to order stocks of "Supercalendar" paper from Europe. The newsprint will continue to appear over the next few months. Advertisers whose copy is printed on Supercalendar stock receive a 10 percent discount. Ads and Articles
The September issue of Science Digest includes a surprisingly varied range of articles, from atomic fusion to motion pictures to baseball to an analysis of crib death . . . Business Week's Sept. 3 issue marked the magazine's 50th anniversary with special reports on the Depression of 1929 and the future of American business in the next 50 years . . . Women contemplating divorce are more likely to be employed than happily married women, according to the September American Demographics. Their incomes are also about 20 percent higher than women who remain married.
People are more likely to discuss television programs and commercials than magazine articles and ads, according to a study commissioned by the Magazine Publishers Association . . . Meanwhile, magazine advertising continues to set records, up 13 percent over the first seven months of 1978. At the same time, single copy sales of magazines have dropped up to 40 percent, largely because of inflation.