Thursday, April 23, 2009

Esquire's Future May Be Short
The folks at The Big Lead directed me to this article the other day, which notes 12 major brands that could disappear, Circuit City-style, sometime soon. It's a pretty interesting list, it includes Borders (I've spent many a lunch-hour at the L St., N.W., branch, and still remember when it opened and will be sad if it closes), Saturn (I owned one three or four cars ago) and Crocs (nicely done, Mr. Cank).

It also includes Esquire, a magazine I've subscribed to for quite a while, that puzzles me more with each issue. It seems that at least every other issue is devoted to some kind of theme, like the All-American Issue or the Extremes of Men's Fashion Issue (I don't even know, or care, what that means). The May issue is themed How To Be a Man. The cover is the creation of some crazed art director -- there are head shots of George Clooney, Justin Timberlake and President Obama. These are on consecutive pages, each page has two perforations, which allows you to combine, say, Clooney's eyes with Timberlake's nose with the president's lips. Which would be fun, if you were, like, six years old.

Also, are there any men out there who really even care about Justin Timberlake? He's a guy who struck it rich by being in a boy band, and now he's a gazillionaire. The end. George Clooney, while probably a little closer to the demographic of the magazine's readers, is still kind of a stretch. I've been a guy my whole life, and I don't care about George Clooney, and I've never had a conversation with any other guy about him. I know my sister liked him when he was in ER, that's fine. He makes some decent movies, and he seems like a nice enough guy. He cares about Darfur and the environment, that's cool. But I don't know any guy who's going to purchase a magazine because he's on the cover, and he certainly doesn't define manhood. That's silly.

Once you get in the magazine, they actually provide you with instructions on How To Be a Man: how to parallel park, how to make eggs, how to change a tire. Who doesn't know how to do these things? Tom Chiarella writes a ridiculous paragraph on how to bet the horses -- basically pick a horse and bet $20 on it to win, and then bet an exacta. Gee, thanks, that's brilliant. We're told that a good way to get a bartender's attention is to tip well. Ya think?

Stuff like this makes me wonder who Esquire is aimed at. I suspect that it's the crazed art director and a few of his friends. Another brilliant idea they came up with is the Sexiest Woman Alive, where they show a different body part of a woman each issue for some period of time and then they assemble all the body parts and we find that there's been a six month build-up to Halle Berry winning the honor. That's stunning news, I know, the tension was difficult to handle.

The sad thing about this is that, amidst the crap, there's a decent magazine. The May issue included articles about Todd Palin and Todd Marinovich (maybe it should have been The Todd Issue) that were both interesting reading. If you can find them, there are often good tips about music, books and, uh, booze.

Esquire's demise is predicted due, of course, to falling ad revenues. That's not too surprising. While there are ads for cars and beer and tequila, there are also those smelly ads for cologne, as well as high-end watches, cigars, clothing that you might be able to fit into if you're 16, and other crap. Stuff no real guys care about. All these products were initially geared to the super rich, then when our culture started crumbling and people that weren't wealthy thought they should at least act like they were wealthy, they'd max out their credit cards to pay for $9000 watches. Then they couldn't pay their credit card bills or their mortgages, and they stopped making these stupid purchases, and couldn't even afford to make more sensible purchases, so now the economy is screwed and the companies that make $9000 watches find out that they have to cut their advertising budget. And a formerly good magazine bites the dust. And Justin Timberlake and George Clooney are doing just fine.


Anonymous said...

I think the horse racing advice was avoid the gimmick bets and bet to win. Not that bad.

tadcranky said...

I guess. It just seems like advice that is so uninspired it's not even really worth giving. Most people that are new to going to the track aren't going to understand the exotic bets, anyway, like what a wheel is. And they're not going to have the patience for a Pick 6.

If I were asked, I'd say take that $20, find a couple of races with six or seven horses; for each, pick two that are like the third and fourth favorites, and do a $5 exacta box in two races.

tadcranky said...
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