Bill Regardie--the wild-and-crazy Washington publisher who used to put out a self-consciously outrageous business magazine called Regardies--has come out with a new magazine. It's called "Regardie's Power," and it's best described as, well, Regardie-esque. What other word can sum up a business magazine whose first cover shows not one, but two babes clad in zebra-skin bikinis?
But before I can discuss this amazing cover story, I have to make one of those journalistic full-disclosure statements: Last spring, in what must have been a moment of desperation, Regardie offered me the job of editor of this as-yet-unborn magazine.
Normally this would disqualify me from reviewing the magazine. But Regardie offered the editorship to just about everybody in Washington who could type. I think I was approximately choice No. 47. And somebody's got to write this column.
So, back to that cover story. It's about Roy Jerasi, a Louisiana entrepreneur who puts on shows in which drunk guys pay to swab bikini-clad women with baby oil and then watch them wrestle. Writer Eric Felten--who accepted Regardie's offer to be the editor of this magazine--goes on for a couple dozen paragraphs describing how a guy named Bubba buys the rights to grease up a woman named Joni for $40 and then Joni starts wrestling another greased-up blonde and then . . .
It's all quite fascinating, but you begin to wonder: What does this have to do with the ostensible topic of the magazine, which is the high-tech business in Washington?
Well, it turns out that Jerasi owns the Internet Web site www.AmericaOnline.com, and he's trying to sell it to the folks who own America Online, which is based in Northern Virginia and which thus far has refused to buy Jerasi's site.
Sure, a cynic might say that's a pretty lame news peg. But this piece does fit my description of a good business story, which is "any business story that can be illustrated with six photos of women wearing only bikinis and baby oil."
There are other stories, too--one on a hotshot local FBI agent, another on local celebrities recalling their first cars. There's also a column by Regardie, and it's a classic of the Regardie oeuvre. It begins "Dan Snyder is my hero" and continues in that vein, with Regardie babbling on and on about the gutsiness of the new Redskins owner. Then he mentions his friendship with the late Jack Kent Cooke, the old Redskins owner, who used to invite Regardie to watch games from the owner's box. Then he starts praising Snyder some more: "He's King of Chutzpah, who has soared higher than anyone else in this darn town."
Wrong! Snyder's not the King of Chutzpah. Regardie is. Who else would publish such a shameless public plea for an invitation to the owner's box?
Snapshots of the Century
It seems as though half the magazines in America have published special end-of-the-century issues and the other half have published special end-of-the-millennium issues. Most of them have been eminently forgettable, but Life's "Great Pictures of the Century" issue is fabulous.
Life magazine knows pictures, and its editors have chosen dozens of great ones. You've seen most of them before, but that doesn't diminish their power. There's Lewis Hine's heartbreaking photo of a turn-of-the-century child laborer. And Dorothea Lange's famous shot of a migrant worker and her kids. And the great W. Eugene Smith's shot of a Japanese mother bathing her pollution-deformed child, which has become a kind of modern "Pieta." And that famous pinup of Rita Hayworth.
Some of these pictures are accompanied by new shots showing what has happened to the people in the famous photos. For instance, the handsome teenager in Bruce Davidson's celebrated 1959 shot of Brooklyn gang members is now a retired detective. And the baby in Walker Evans's famous shot of a poor Alabama sharecropping family has survived hard times, a car accident and a stroke.
In a section titled "Moving Pictures," celebrities pick the photos they "just can't forget." Elizabeth Taylor, Yoko Ono and John Kenneth Galbraith chose pictures of themselves, which is somehow not surprising. Tony Bennett picked a photo of Picasso drawing a bull in thin air with a special illuminated pen. And Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf chose a horrifying photograph of a Japanese soldier in the act of beheading a blindfolded Australian prisoner during World War II. "This is not my favorite picture," he says, "but it's a picture that made a deep impression."
Finally, there's a selection of Life's best photo essays--including Smith's classic "Country Doctor" and those amazing color photos of embryos--all of them reprinted in their original layout.
This issue is a keeper. It deserves to be saved into the next millennium.
Cover Line of the Month
Cosmopolitan: "The Bedroom Trick That Will Blow Him Away (all you need is a hair scrunchie)"