It's January, and everybody has lists. The Magazine Column, too.
From Business Week, here are the top five brands of cigarettes in 1980, the best year for the butt business in the last half decade: Marlboro (with 17.8 percent of the market, up in sales 4.3 percent over 1979), Winston (down 1.3 percent in sales), Kool, Salem, Pall Mall. Virginia Slims was the year's hottest brand, blazing up to the No. 12 position with a smokin' 28.3 increase over its 1979 sales; Golden Lights barely smoldered, with sales down 14 percent over the previous 12 months.
Collectibles in 1980 from the January Life:
The July 17 Chicago Sun-Times, with an "It's Reagan and Ford" headline. About 146,000 copies were printed, and already they're selling for up to $500;
There were $45 million in Kenny Rogers records sold, including 2.5 million copies of the LP "Gideon";
$500 million in cowboy hats were purchased, up 30 percent over 1979;
Vendors packaged and sold 30 tons of Mount St. Helens ash; 130 million tons erupted.
According to the January issue of Panorama, "The Blues Brothers" has become the nation's hottest videocassette, knocking "Alien" down to the No. 2 position after four not-so-lonely months at the top. "Star Trek -- The Motion Picture" is third, followed by "Close Encounters of the Third Kind" and "All That Jazz."
What axioms do lawyers use to pick jurors? The list from the January Discover:
Jews and Italians are warm-hearted, while Irishmen and some Scandinavians are thought to be colder;
Women jurors resent attractive women plaintiffs or defendants;
Former accident victims rarely award another victim more than they themselves received;
People in the arts are more tolerant than traditionally conservative types such as bankers or farmers.
And finally, Richard Nixon's list of recommended books, from the December American Spectator: Paul Johnson's "The Offshore Islanders": Hugh Thomas' "A History of the World"; Robert Nisbet's "History of the Idea of Progress"; "The Spike" by Arnaud de Borchgrave and Robert Moss; and Raymond Aron's "In Defense of Decadent Europe." Chilling Fact
Sure it's cold.
And the reason may be right on page 1,243 of the Dec. 12 issue of Science.
Are you sitting down?
The sun is shrinking.
To be precise, "the solar radius has contracted by 0.34 plus or minus 0.2 arc seconds in 264 years." Your Attention, Please
All right, so it gets so cold that we all die.Or most of us die. Here, from the January/February Next is "the last word on epitaphs. Two California inventors have developed a tape-recorded epitaph for use at grave sites. A solar-powered tape-recorder, installed in the gravestone, plays up to two hours of the departed's recorded speech." Beasts of Burden
With the carpenters nailing the last few 2-by-4s into the inaugural reviewing stand on Pennsylvania Avenue, we'd be remiss to have no political item here. Hence this letter, from a Mr. Marc Stanley of Austin, Tex., in the Dec. 1 issue of Time:
"Someone ought to inform the Rev. Jerry Falwell that if Jesus had wanted his followers to support Republicans, he would have ridden into Jerusalem on an elephant." Splitting Headache
Speaking of Republicans, this from the Dec. 8 Newsweek item on Fawn Brodie's research:
When Richard Nixon was 7, "he acquired a friend's jar of polliwogs by hitting the boy on the head with a hatchet. (The grown man still bears the scar)." Good Reads
Janet Malcolm's extraordinary two-part profile of a psychoanalyst in the Nov. 24 and Dec. 1 issues of The New Yorker provided not only an in-depth look at a figure normally shrouded in mystery, but also an awesomely well-condensed exposition of Freud's theories. We phoned Miss Malcolm at The New Yorker, where she has worked for the past 15 years writing profiles and photography criticism (much of it collected in her book "Diana and Nixon") and she told us:
"One might think it would be hard to find an analyst willing to talk in depth to a reporter. One analyst did tell me that he thought such an article would be bad for analysis in general. I had a list of analysts to talk with, and many talked with me. In fact, I had very few rejections. For people who rarely talk in their work, they're very verbal when there's an opportunity to talk about their work. Specifically, I met with him [Aaron Green, as he is called in the pieces] once a week from the winter of 1978 to the summer of 1979. I did not pay for the meetings, although that is a very interesting thought. I myself have been in analysis. The pieces are a bit ambiguous, because I wanted to disguise him from his patients, which was easy, because his patients don't know him anyway. But I did show the pieces to him before they were published so he'd know what might lead to his being recognized. [pause.] I guess I'm not really telling you directly that it's a him."
John Weisman's not-so-complimentary, well-documented and exhaustive profile of Geraldo Rivera in the Dec. 6 TV Guide is much longer and much harder-hitting than most of the puff pieces that usually clutter the nation's best-selling magazine (almost 20 million copies bought weekly):
"When Rivera interviewed Joseph Ross of the National Electrical Code, he asked, according to the transcript of the full interview obtained by TV Guide, 'Did you make a mistake in the critical period. . .?' But on video tape, the question, with Rivera on camera, is phrased, 'Do you admit that a mistake was made. . .?'"
"It is a small change, but with it Rivera is transmogrified from questioner to interrogator. The 'pumping up' -- or fortifying -- of questions after they have been asked is called 'doctoring the news.'"
Jay Cocks' lyrical, straight-from-the-heart Time cover on John Lennon:
"For all the official records, the death would be called murder. For everyone who cherished the sustaining myth of The Beatles -- which is to say, for much of an entire generation that is passing, as Lennon was, at age 40, into middle age, and coming suddenly up against its own mortality -- the murder was something else. It was an assassination, a ritual slaying of something that could hardly be named. Hope, perhaps; or idealism. Or time. Not only lost, but suddenly dislocated, fractured."
Incidentally, magazine mavens will want to note that the Lennon slaying marked only the third occasion in Time's history when dead nonpoliticians have appeared on its cover: the first instance came with the passing of Time founder Henry Luce, that crusty nonpolitician; the second with the launch-pad immolation of astronauts Grissom, Chaffee and White. But the ever-meticulous Time research department was quick to add these qualifiers about non-breaking news stories: Howard Hughes was a Time cover one year after his death, for a story about his controversial medical care; Mother Seton appeared on the cover 100 or so years after her death, when she became a saint; and the empty papal slippers of Pope John Paul I appeared the week following his death.
Mark Singer's delightful profile of a Brooklyn court buff, Benjamin Shine, in the Dec. 15 New Yorker, gets off to a good start: "In all sorts of circumstances, certain people in Brooklyn will commit murder." And Shine, a 73-year-old retired tie salesman, has taken to following the trials of such types. "Where there's murder," he often says, quite accurately, "you know something's doing." Or, "I'd pay a dollar to see a good trial, I really would," Shine has said -- grateful, just the same, that he doesn't have to. "Some of these buffs, though, I think if you charged only fifty cents you'd lose quite a few."
Our favorite tale in the Shine saga:
"In certain circumstances, Shine will step forward to offer a lawyer an unsolicited opinion. A lawyer named John C. Corbett has been approached quite a few times with what Shine considers a sound bit of strategic advice. . .
"It seems that one morning several years ago, Corbett and his pet dogs, dachshunds named Siegfried and Brunnhilde, were enjoying a walk along Avenue U, in Gravesend, when a city bus pulled over. The driver who had once sat on a Corbett jury, emerged and began to tell the lawyer how skillfully he had defended the client. Recalling the case, Corbett pointed out that he must not have been skillful enough, because the accused man was sent away for twenty years. The bus driver was reassuring. 'Oh him ,' he said. 'No, I just didn't like the looks of that guy. The minute I laid eyes on him, I told myself he was guilty.' The episode impressed Corbett so deeply that he decided to make it the centerpiece of his closing arguments in the future. Nowadays, he ritually recites the parable of the misguided bus driver and implores jurors to judge his clients strictly on the evidence that has been presented during the trial. He includes graphic details of his stroll with Siegfried and Brunnhilde. After twelve years in the courthouse, Shine has heard this annecdote more times than he cares to, and he now makes it a habit, whenever he sees Corbett, to say, 'The Humane Society wants to know when you're going to stop abusing those dogs.' Or, 'Hey, Mr. Corbett, isn't it about time those dachshunds were put to sleep?' Corbett, of course, pays no heed. Shine, however, regards such helpful admonitions as being part of a serious buff's unwritten contract." Movie Mag
In Cinema, a Playbill-sized monthly distributed free at New York movie theaters, is just five issues old and already guaranteeing a circulation of 600,000. What's even more amazing is that is looks good and reads well: nice little short items, an interview with cinematographer Vilmos Zsigmond, articles on soundtracks and the merchandising of Hollywood and the film school backgrounds of famous directors, and even a page -- appropriately titled "Final Cut" -- for movie types, like Jean-Luc Godard, to sound off. Out-of-towners can subscribe for $10 annually from 919 Third Ave., New York, N.Y. 10022. From the File
Let's see: here we have the Dec. 29 issue of Fortune, with a cover story on making U.S. products better. Moving right along to page 16, we notice that pages 17 through 24 are in reverse order and upside-down. Hmmmmm. Is this what they call method publishing? Maybe no worse than the 8-page color spread in the December Life on the film "Heaven's Gate," which made it through one week of screenings and then closed . . . Inside Sports, with an extraordinarily strong January Superbowl issue now on the stands, will increase its rate base by 10 percent -- from 500,000 to 550,000 -- effective with the April issue . . . Bill Broyles, former editor of Texas Monthly, has become editor-in-chief of New West, which was brought by Texas Monthly a few months back. Jon Carroll, who was formerly editor of New West, will become an editor at New West. And Nick Lemann, a quiet type whose wonderfully descriptive, literary prose has been gracing the pages of this newspaper for the past year or so, is trading in his brown Weejuns (not his fault; he went to Harvard) for some serious ostrich-skin Lucchese cowboy boots and heading for Austin to become executive editor of Texas Monthly.