The Magazine Business, From the Coolest Place to the Coldest One 加速凋零中的雜誌產業
I miss magazines. It's a strange ache, because they are still sort of with us: staring out from the racks at supermarket checkout lines; fanned wanly around the table in hotel lobbies; showing up in your mailbox long after the subscription was canceled, like an ex who refuses to accept the breakup.
But they're also disappearing. This accelerating erosion has not been big news during a time of pandemic, war and actual erosion, and yet the absence of magazines authoritatively documenting such events, or distracting from them, as they used to do with measured regularity, is keenly felt.
Time marches on, or limps, but Life is gone. There's no more Money. The print editions of their former sister publications Entertainment Weekly and InStyle, which once frothed with profit, stopped publishing in February. It's been au revoir to Saveur and Marie Claire; shrouds for Playboy, Paper and O. (As I type this, people are tweeting about The Believer being bought by a sex-toy site.)
Two recent books — "Dilettante," by Dana Brown, a longtime editor at Vanity Fair, and a new biography of Anna Wintour, by Amy Odell, formerly of cosmopolitan.com — are graveyards of dead or zombie titles that were once glowing hives of human whim.
"There were so many magazines in 1994," Brown writes. "So many new magazines, and so many great magazines. All the young talent of the moment was eschewing other industries and flocking to the business. It was the coolest place to be."
Then suddenly the coldest. On the big fancy cruise ship that Brown had just boarded — Vanity Fair, where he'd been beckoned by Graydon Carter while a barback at the restaurant 44 — he and so many others then could only see the tip of an enormous iceberg they were about to hit: the internet. Smartphones, little self-edited monster magazines that will not rest until their owners die, were on the horizon. These may have looked like life rafts, but they were torpedo boats.
Every year, the American Society of Magazine Editors issues a handsome award, a brutalist-looking elephant called the Ellie, modeled after an Alexander Calder elephant sculpture. Any writer would be proud to have it on the mantelpiece.
The history of modern American literature is braided together with its magazines. The future can feel like a lot of loose threads, waving in the wind.
Of Red Clay and French Existentialism 地主冠軍荒持續 法國選手在紅土失存在感
The most prominent feature of the French Open is that this Grand Slam tournament takes place on the rusty red clay of Roland Garros, a beloved detail that is as much a part of local culture and tradition as the bouquinistes that sell art and used books along the Seine.
This red clay that comes from a small brick factory in Oise, north of Paris, elicits so much love.
But the clay has also become a symbol of deep frustration. A Frenchwoman has not won the singles championship that this country so treasures, the one that requires more grit but also more thought than any other, since Mary Pierce in 2000. A Frenchman has not won it in 39 years, since Yannick Noah in 1983.
The answer likely has a lot to do with a central contradiction in the home of red clay's biggest stage. Just 11.5% of the tennis courts in France are made of the traditional red clay and most of those are in private clubs. Another 16.5% of courts are made of an imitation clay surface that is similar to the terre bateau but plays harder and faster than the softer traditional clay.
Winning on clay requires a Ph.D. in what coaches and players call point construction, which is shorthand for playing tennis like chess, thinking not only about this next shot but three shots down the line. Learning that to the point where it is instinctual can take years, and like most things, the earlier one starts training the brain to think that way, the better.
The club, which is less than 1 mile from Roland Garros, tries to carry red clay's torch as best it can. That torch is not cheap. Maintaining the courts requires four full-time employees, and new clay costs more than $2,000 a year for each court. Each court must be entirely dug up and redone every 15 years, costing more than $30,000 per court.