Tag Archives | magazines

Listicles: Celebrities!

Stasha went all pop culture this week and asked us to write about celebrities and that inspires me to make a confession: I love trashy magazines.  After college, I lived in an apartment about a block from a Store 24 and one of the few pleasures I could afford in those days was to walk into the store, buy a pack of gum or something, and then stand there for hours reading pretty much every magazine they had.

I suppose celebs are just like us (as many listicle writers have pointed out, all of us eat, crap, sleep, cry, and eventually die) – but now, for some reason, reading about these people just doesn’t provide the same sense of comfort it once did. Now I flip through the mags sort of like a bird with a snake – I’m horrified but can’t stop looking, even though I know it’s not good for me:

1.  Photoshop. In days of yore, celebrity pictures were…pictures of celebrities. Now pictures of the “stahs” are basically created on some art director’s computer screen. So why bother reading the magazine? I should just go browse in the Barbie section because…

2. Bodies. What bodies? The women in these magazines all look like lollipops: tiny skinny bodies and big bobble heads (and frequently bobble-boobs, too).  I can feel inadequate and overfed all by myself, thanks; I don’t need help from some photoshopped image of Kate Hudson’s post-baby body.

3. Babies. Oh for god’s sake, so you’re famous (or famous-ish) and you had a baby. Well congratufuckinlations. Because no one  in the history of the planet has ever, ever had a baby before. Seriously. Ever. The rest of us here pottering around on the earth? Freak accidents from alien invasions. But your baby, little Blue Blu Moses Ivy Apple Siri – is the first human ever to be born. So. Seriously, kudoes.

4. After the birth of this miracle child, please do the rest of us a favor and do not immediately slide back into those size 0 jeans (Posh, I’m talking to you, directly to you). I like to believe that if I had a personal chef and trainer(s), I too could wear a size 0 (except I know that I haven’t been a size 0 since before I was born).

5. Aging I. Why does everyone in celebrity magazines refuse to age except for Meryl Streep, who, let’s face it, is the coolest cat going. Well, maybe Meryl and Helen Mirren, who makes the current crop of scrawny starlets look like bony drowned rats.

 6. Aging II: I look at these magazines and realize that I’m old as the hills. Who are all those people? VanessaBlakelyCamillaAudrinaLeighton? Are they the same person? Were any of them in a movie I’ve ever seen?

7. The Olsen twins. They scare me. Swaths of clothes, almost no flesh, huge sunglasses: they look like aliens dressed up like your ancient Grandma Tillie.

8. The Kardashians. Their fame makes me worry about the fate of the country.

9. Real Teen Pregnant Housewife Mobster Hoarder Criminals. I do not want to read about these people. I do not want to see pictures of these people. I want these people to get the medical and/or psychological help they deserve and leave the rest of us alone. There is only so much schadenfreude a gal can enjoy before she starts to feel guilty.

10. Language. No, not foul language; I’ve got no problem with that. Now that I live in Abu Dhabi, the grocery store checkout lines are full of glossy gossip rags…in Arabic.  So it’s entirely possible that I’ve come up with the other items on this list just to rationalize the fact now, if I want to flip through the magazines, I have to make a specific trip to the big bookstore that stocks the trashy mags…and of course, we all like to pretend that we’re only reading them while we’re standing in line. But to make a specific trip to the shop, just to find out what Audrinavanessacamillablakely is doing? Nah. Now, if I just happen to be in that shop, um, looking for a book for Caleb, yeah, that’s it, I’m there on a legitimate errand…



Continue Reading · on April 16, 2012 in Abu Dhabi, Monday Listicle, pop culture

Why I’m Not the New Chancellor of NYC Schools

I know why Mayor Bloomberg didn’t tap me to take over from Joel Klein.

I’m overqualified.

I taught public high school for four years, have a doctorate in literature and have been teaching college students for longer than I care to remember.  Both of my kids go to public schools; I went to public schools until I got to college.  But apparently the best qualification to run the NYC schools is to be…completely uninvolved with education.

Joel Klein resigned earlier this week (do we break into a chorus of “ding dong the witch is dead…”? ) and Bloomberg has appointed Cathie Black to replace him. Cathie is a former chairperson of Hearst Magazines and, according to Bloomberg, is a “superstar manager.” The fact that she sent her own kids to private boarding schools in Conneticut, or that she herself went to parochial school in Chicago, or that she has absolutely no experience with education at all–none of that matters.

According to Bloomberg, what matters is that Black knows about “jobs, jobs, jobs… what our students need.”  Well, yes, they need jobs–but we’re talking about kids coming out of high school, not college. What they need before they get a job is how write and read and add; they need to be in buildings that are not jammed to the rafters and falling apart; they need the arts and gym; they need fewer bureaucrats and better teachers who are paid better salaries…the list is endless. Do the schools really need to be headed up by someone who was the publisher of USA Today? Really, the best we can do is the publisher of the McPaper? That’s the standard to which we aspire?

Magazines and newspapers are things, widgets that can be stacked up and counted. There’s a schedule of production, the content is generated, the pages are compiled, and voila, there’s your magazine. And you sell it for a certain price (or download it or steal it from the airplane or whatever) and you get a certain amount of profit. Granted, the world of paper publishing has been rocky the last few years, but still, basically, a magazine is a widget.

News flash (hey, Cathie, yep, talking to you): a kid is not a widget and learning (alas) does not happen on a set production schedule. If it did, I never would have come so close to failing Trigonometry (Mrs. Orr, wherever you are, I wish you well: you tried, you really did). So if kids aren’t widgets, then why hire someone whose expertise is in widget-sales?

I guess, though, that she is very very, very good at selling magazines. Maybe that does qualify her to run the largest school district in the country. I mean, some NYC schools sell magazine subscriptions as fundraisers, so right there her expertise is going to be very helpful.

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Continue Reading · on November 10, 2010 in Education, NYC

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