It seems like eons, but it was only 10 years ago that Ms. rode into the public awareness as an insert in New York magazine. And now, the feminist journal is toting its own marsupial passenger in the innards of the September issue: Making It, a new career-info quarterly for job-hungry students and migratory upwardly-mobiles.
"It's our way of practicing the golden rule," says Ms. publisher and editor in chief Pat Carbine. In spades: Ms. has no financial interest "whatsoever" in the venture created by Karen Rubin, 30, veteran business writer and erstwhile senior editor at The Travel Agent magazine. She discerned six years ago that there was no biz-mag covering new markets and boom trends "that speaks to the person directly" with company profiles featuring concrete plans for growth, hard-dollar salary figures, analyses of the work environment and a listing of direct job contacts. The no-nonsense advice is always intriguing, often surprising: Even doggo prospects like anthropologists and landscape architects, we learn, are still in demand at the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which hires 1,000 professionals a year.
By 1981, Rubin had saved enough money to launch the project, aimed at the young professional "who is waiting to make his first or second strategic move." The first two issues failed to inflame the national psyche, and Rubin was getting desperate when through a friend she met Carbine and Gloria Steinem. They had previously nixed a piggyback debut for Billie Jean King's sports mag, but agreed to give Rubin a ride. Making It has no woman's focus, but "making information equally available to both women and men," says Carbine, "is a fundamental feminist goal." "I was worried about my demographics," says Rubin, but she now expects 50,000 circulation for the 52-page, ad-thin "charter" issue, which will ship in mid-October ($3 a year, $1.50 each). After that? Well, "there are a lot of discontented, frustrated people out there," says Rubin, "and they don't even know the names of the jobs they should be looking for." Hot Stuff
Harper's is again unfailingly engaging from cover to cover, from grim to hilarious. There's the multiple sclerosis victim who sets out on an agonizing quest for interferon treatments but is thwarted by a medical-research establishment whose caution borders on cruelty. "What you've got to understand," a doctor tells him, "is that the present generation has to be sacrificed for future ones." And James Wolcott's review of Joyce Carol Oates' new gothic is a geyser of comic vitriol. He starts by comparing the novel to The Blob ("a word-goop with a ravenous case of the eaties"), and it's all downhill from there.
Two fine book excerpts this month. In Atlantic, it's "Blue Highways," in which Sioux Indian William Least Heat Moon flees a failing marriage for a shunpike odyssey of rural America. Once past the woozy sophomoricisms ("my numbing sense that life inevitably creeps toward the absurd"), it's a masterful gumbo of picaresque vignettes. And Esquire has a long sampler from Washington Post reporter Paul Hendrickson's upcoming "Seminary, a Search," an account of his seven years in a Catholic seminary -- with its incessant bells, "a schedule so tight you could hear it ticking," and manifold shocks: "Suddenly privacy didn't seem to exist, even for bodily functions." In all, a wistful, moving account of "lives being tooled to fit a new die."
And while you're broiling your brisket at the beach this weekend, don't neglect the Sept. 6 Fortune for an industrial-strength look at the imperious, embattled De Beers diamond cartel and a profile of Sy "an educated consumer" Syms, the off-price garb czar whose mug keeps popping up on your Sony. For pix to click, see Life. The cover feature on liver transplants is a pictorial disappointment, but the photos of Dustin Hoffman's transvestism for the movie "Tootsie" have a weirdly lurid appeal. And Anne Fadiman's story of two young deaf lovers at Gallaudet College is a must, evoking the staccato poetry of sign-syntax (Now morning sunrise. I look at, thrill) and the hard-bought pride of those who use it. Sensitively conceived and splendidly written. And National Geographic weighs in with a prodigious, informative section on America's imperiled national forests. The spread suffers from an infuriating ubiquity of first-person pronouns and the massive circumspection we've come to expect from the Chase Manhattan of photo mags; but there's real power in the pictures. And don't miss the lead shot on Peter Benchley's piece on the Bahamas: half underwater, half out, it's a surreal brain-bender. Speaking of Which
Men and women have physically different brains, according to Science 82. This may come as no surprise to gents who have spent hours cooling their heels outside Elizabeth Arden. But anthropologist Melvin Konner offers a fascinating summary of research on structural differences, especially those caused by the male sex hormone. Not only does it produce violent behavior ("Among male prison inmates . . . the higher the testosterone level, the earlier the age of the first arrest"), but its presence in developing brain cells also leads to "more and faster growing neural processes." Konner concludes that "serious disarmament may ultimately necessitate an increase of women in government." Better living through chemistry! To aid in judging the purport of this article, we offer the following examples of apparent brain activity by males and females.
* Hard Time: The latest McCall's -- with the fabulous "Reader of the Year" wish-fulfillment orgy -- carries a deplorably smarmy prison interview with Jean Harris as well as a piece by the noted murderer herself. Harris, it seems, is not happy: "It's a terrible, terrible way to live." She's found that jail is rough on moms and kids ("some of the women here are virtually incapable of mothering") and too, too boring ("We prisoners should be required to pay our own way" rather than "sit for months and sometimes years, watching the 'soaps' and playing cards.") She whines at waiting for doors to be unlocked (a "waste of time . . . I must have knitted a hundred pairs of mittens"), the unplentiful chow ("by 10 o'clock you're ready to start chewing shoeleather") and -- the horror -- only one beauty-parlor appointment every 90 days! Memo to McCall's: didn't we learn anything from the Mailer/Abbott debacle? This woman slaughtered a human being; treating her like Little Orphan Annie is beneath contempt.
* Open Mouth, Insert Gucci: Geo interviews Clare Boothe Luce, now serving as special adviser to White House national security honcho William Clark. The 79-year-old former everything says we may get an "ugly surprise" when China and the Russkis form a pact "just as Hitler and Stalin," advocates a "career service in counterintelligence in the FBI," and reveals that she feels more compassion for "one of my pet birds" than for starving mothers in the Sahara. She's not too keen on "cultural pluralism" either, particularly all these pesky Mexicans and Haitians and whatnot. Wasn't America built by immigrants? "Sure," Luce says. "But the vast majority were of a fundamental culture, and they were all white. They were not brown or yellow." Anybody got a muzzle?
Also in Geo is a spectacular high-saturation color spread on women astronauts who, we learn, "pressed for such equipment changes as two-piece flight suits and skin softeners and makeup in their personal hygeine kits. They also requested that bikini underwear be added to the list of flight supplies." Says one: "When I come off the shuttle, I want to look better than I've ever looked before." You've come a long way, Captain.
* What Sort of Man Reads Esquire? The same fall fashion feature hawking $2,500 Sulka dressing gowns and $75 cotton shirts as the ideal duds for its readers also advises them to cure nail-biting by painting their fingers with iodine, avoid sweaty palms by dusting them with talcum powder (we can just see the boys slapping up a storm in the Board Room), and "The rule still holds: change your socks every day." Man At His Best? The mind boggles. As the Whirl Turns
In January, House & Garden will become a whole new "upscale" magazine on the order of Architectural Digest. To court the carriage trade, Conde Nast has purged the editorial staff, dropped the how-to stuff, upgraded the paper stock and jacked the cover price from $1.50 to $4 for a whopping 220 pages . . . The Dial has finally named a new publisher: Peter Bonnani, late of Rolling Stone . . . American Preservation, "the magazine for historic and neighborhood preservation," could not preserve itself and ceased publishing last month . . . Vox Populi: Back in February, Family Circle asked its readers -- not exactly red-eyed radicals -- how they felt about abortion. The survey results, in the current issue, show that 62 percent support a woman's right to have an abortion, 65 percent feel the government should stay out of the issue and 66 percent oppose a constitutional amendment banning abortion. One out of six respondents said they had had an abortion themselves. (Jesse Helms -- check your blood pressure.) . . . It's a hat trick for venerable tomesmith James Michener: Pieces of his new novel "Space" will appear simultaneously in the October Playboy and Ladies Home Journal, with a two-parter in People's Sept. 20 and 27 issues.
Two months after its 100th anniversary, things look grim for Grit, the cheery little tabloid weekly of "good news" from Williamsport, Pa. Long a family staple in the sod belt, Grit's circulation has plopped from 1.5 million in 1962 to 650,000 last year, when it was bought by ADVO-System Inc. Apparently it's losing its younger readers and carriers . . . Maybe it could publish in Japan, where a recent study found that youngsters have average IQ scores 11 points higher than their American counterparts, especially in "block designs, mazes, picture arrangement and object assembly." The geometry of Japanese ideograms may make the difference, but the likely culprit, according to Discover, is our slovenly "education" system . . . although they don't mention the burgeoning horde of video-game mags (Electronic Games, Videogaming Illustrated, JoyStik, the aptly titled Vidiot and many more) which at 10 to 12 quarters apiece are a surprise hit with arcadeniks. Against odds: "To be honest," Vidiot's editor told The Wall Street Journal, "I don't think people who play these games know how to read." . . . They should pick up Highwire, the new and gratifyingly literate quarterly for high-school students, written mostly by the students themselves. Cleanly designed on glossy stock, it has a wide range of features, news and humor, such as these actual exam bloopers: "Louis Pasteur discovered a cure for rabbis"; and "The government of England is a limited mockery" ($7.97 a year from 217 Jackson St., Lowell, Mass. 01852). The Natives Are Restless
Pumping Irony: Two superior articles on the Fourth Estate this month. Nicholas von Hoffman makes a caustic foray into the White House press room in The New Republic (Sept. 6) and finds it "the only day care center in America Ronald Reagan hasn't abolished." And in Washington Journalism Review, Washington Post reporter Edward Cody and Israeli journalist Pnina Ramati show how Israeli press censorship during the Lebanon war ironically served to "enhance the news value and credibility of eyewitness stories filed by correspondents in Beirut."
Ad In: Those ads you're going to be seeing in National Journal, the government-overview weekly that has built up a full head of esteem in recent years, will finance regional coverage. Publisher John Fox Sullivan believes that "in the long run, whether Reagan stays or goes, more power is going to state and local governments." And you'll need a fork-lift to hoist the new Washingtonian with its 180 pages of ads -- a record for the ever-chubbier book.
Not For Moguls Only: Upscaly Regardie's, the biz-monde bimonthly lovingly distributed (usually free) to some 15,000 Washingtonians of the six-figure persuasion, and available to proles at $18.95 per annum or $5 a pop. It's looking better than ever thanks to new art director Terry Dale. And reading well, too, thanks to the growing general-interest emphasis of editor Henry Fortunato, who's courting a wider audience. Five bucks is still an over-hefty tariff for a magazine that is to advertising what densepack is to the MX. But if you can poach the current issue off His Lordship's desk, see the stories on the McLean Gardens fiasco, reclusive noshmeister Forrest "Snickers" Mars and Rockville Mall, "The Wart on the Nose of the All-American City."
Not For Poets Entirely: DEROS and Up Against the Wall, Mother, two poetry quarterlies out of Alexandria. DEROS, "devoted to men who served in Vietnam," contains a lot of verse like this: "The ringing in my/ears is just the/echo of a scream/of someone dyin'/in the jungle far/and long ago." UATWM, "devoted to women in crisis," is equally earnest and somewhat more sophisticated. Neither poses a real threat to Wordsworth, but if you like this kind of stuff, you'll like this stuff. Mimeographed, 5 1/2x8 1/2, 44 pp.; $2.50 each, $8 a year. 6009 Edgewood Lane, Alexandria, Va. 22310.
Not For Anybody Hardly: Washington, the new "adult" magazine from Dennis Sobin, landslide winner of this month's Frank Perdue Award for Conspicuous Self-Promotion. Sobin, a D.C. mayoral candidate and sort of J.P. Morgan of the grope set (publisher of steamy little Met Forum and several other libidinal tracts, top dog of the Playground sex club), has seen fit to lead the first issue with an article puffing his candidacy. The rest is the prose equivalent of mud-wrestling. Back of the Book
Cheap Shot of the Month Award goes to Bob "Penthouse" Guccione, who took a full-page ad in The New York Times to accuse rival Playboy of being "B.O. . . . Burnt Out." Compounding the dingbat vulgarity of the pun was the parody drawing of Playboy's bunny drawn by The Gooch Himself. (Can those neck chains cut off blood to the brain?) . . . Hefner Agonistes: Back in April, the board of the Ms. Foundation for Women Inc. voted to return $11,000 in contributions to a reproductive rights project it received from the Playboy Foundation starting back in 1978. Why now? "An increasing number of feminists," says a Ms. spokesperson, "are increasingly disturbed by the way women are depicted in Playboy." . . . Money is on everybody's mind these days, after Readers Digest's Families and Dow Jones' Book Digest recently went belly up, and Hearst bought Redbook from Charter Co. for $23 million. Apropos of which, a new salary survey of 410 publishers in Folio reveals that the average for a magazine's chief editor in the high-paid Northeast is about $33,100 ($46,900 for big-ticket mags), $25,300 for managing editors and $16,100 for copy editors.
In an otherwise imbecilic screed in Harper's (arguing the abolition of airport security), we learn that the FAA recently harnessed a herd of gerbils to detect explosives. But, the agency sadly reported to Congress, the furry Sherlocks "could not meet FAA requirements with regard to sensitivity to the odors involved." (Will this vicious exploitation of our fellow mammals never cease? How'd you like to poke your snout into some stranger's Vuittons for half a head of lettuce a day?) . . . Grouch of the Month: Ezekiel Emanuel in the Sept. 13 New Republic derides the national tizzy over herpes and the slew of ensuing hype: "Can The Herpes Diet Book, The Herpes Catalogue, More Joy of Sex with Herpes, and Garfield Gets Herpes be far behind?" . . . Name Recognition: Diana "Ear" McLellan in Harper's reveals that California's Sen. S.I. Hayakawa "during his first three months in office, received letters addressed to George, Sidney and Sessui Hayakawa, Sen. I. Hiawatha, Senator Higher Power, Mr. I. Kawa and S & H Highakua. The Senate barbershop listed him as F.I. Kayawawa." . . . Sounds like he could use a Negajinx, a mystical gizmo that claims to wipe out jinxes in one day flat for $3 -- one of many such devices advertised in Fate magazine. The monthly review of paranormal phenomena from Highland Park, Ill., caters to the Bigfoot-and-UFO trade, and carries such affecting accounts as the afterlife testimonial by a woman who "talked mentally to her dead parakeet." . . . And finally, Californians planning to visit Alaska need only wait 60 million years, according to Omni, by which time Los Angeles will have sailed past San Francisco and come to rest up around Anchorage. Computer projections of present continental drift also show: Australia will have snugged up against Southeast Asia; and Africa, headed north, will have squashed the Med and banged into Europe. But the Metro system still won't have gotten to Tenley Circle.