Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Finding Wall Street Funny - Part 4

Putting the 'nary' in 'luminary'.

Continuing our deconstruction of the Wall Street Journal Magazine, April 2014 Edition, we rate the (un)importance of six so-called "luminaries". But first, a dissertation in marketing in the 21st Century.

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Enough of this biology-blurring bullshit. Michael Jackson looked like a complete freak trying to make himself look white. So someone please give me a sane explanation for this ad for white shirts (I guess) that features an androgynous mannequin looking out a window, one plastic hand resting above what may be the swell of a breast in a sultry, sexy Does this mean I am a woman? pose.

Michael, you were a stellar performer but you had serious issues. And I’m not even counting the whole McCauley Caulkin thing. For anyone who is drawn by this androgynous marketing trend, hear this: Buying someone’s shirt is not going to help you figure out who you really are let alone deal with it.

How’s that for a theory?

This mannequin seems to be gazing with prescient confusion at the opposite page, where we see WSJ Magazine’s six April “columnists” – so dubbed because they have each managed to write something to fill one column of space. These people are also referred to as luminaries, which compelled me to do a little research – starting with the definition of luminary. This because WSJ’s first columnist, Simon Doonan, is said to be “the creative ambassador for Barneys” and I couldn’t imagine an ambassadorship to a purple dinosaur requiring or resulting in being luminescent.

I want to meet this guy, by the way. He is mentally off-kilter to a degree I normally ascribe to myself but as a flamboyant homosexual he is much better at expressing it (check out some of his stuff here). If he can teach me how to get away with wearing hideous floral duds then maybe when I go back to Japan I can get a gig as a creative ambassador to every sushi-slapping, noodle-whipping Tencho-san in town, making absolutely fabulous plastic food displays for their storefront windows.

Anyway, after a few minutes of research it became clear to me that (a) the Wall Street Journal does not know what the word luminary means, or (b) around the WSJ hallways the title of luminary is available for sale or trade for self-serving favors.

Simon Doonan may or may not be a luminary, it’s hard to tell with all that flamboyance in the way. Let’s see about our other five April Illuminati.


Ruth Reichl  Food Critic. Barely comprehendible, this woman, starting with her column's very first sentence: “The thing that’s so interesting about taste to me as a writer is that, when you look at something, we all know that we’re pretty much seeing the same thing.” WHAT?? The thing that is so interesting to me as a writer is that someone looked at Ruth Reichl’s writing and saw potential. After a column’s worth of drivel about being a food critic we get this: Reichl is a food writer and editor and the author of the novel Delicious! out next month. Puh-lease. WSJ, before plugging someone’s book in exchange for a column of blither you might consider whether the person is able to put together a sentence that is a bit more meaningful than, say, a food critic’s job.

Lyor Cohen  Music Executive. This guy reminds me of the agent in the beginning of this Dr. Dre video. I like his philosophy though. Don’t settle for really good. Seek out the magnificent. Then you too can amass a $75 million fortune by feeding off the talents of others.

Anne Bass  Wow. Talk about feeding off others. Socialite ex-wife of Texas billionaire Sid Bass has enjoyed her (read: his) wealth by sponsoring a young Cambodian’s dream to become a dancer and then doing a documentary about her graciousness – all in her free time, when she’s not busy gadding about or taking refuge at her 1,000-acre Connecticut estate. This woman is not a luminary. She’s Paris Hilton with crow’s feet and a hobby.

Bill T. Jones  “Culturally, I am a polyglot,” he says at the top of his column. Newsflash, Bill, this is the USA. Except for NASCAR fans and the KKK we’re all cultural polyglots. Bill goes on to say he’s careful not to mix different kinds of friends together – which seems to put a rather gloopy glot in his cultural agility. Apparently he’s a good dancer though.

Ali Pincus  This is the part where I throw up. Ali P., along with her co-founding friend (and perchance through the connections and wealth of her billionaire Farmville creator husband), has raised almost one billion dollars to fund her interior decorating business One King’s Lane which, according to this source, has been so far unprofitable. I sold 124 books last week, which means I’m in the black to the tune of roughly $124. This puts me ahead of Ali P. But she’s the luminary?

Out of a possible 6 points, one for each luminary who gives off his or her own light, I give WSJ’s panel a score of 2.

Mr. Jones has made a solid mark. Hats off to you sir, and I forgive the friend segregation remark because I wouldn’t have you over with a lot of my friends either. One point.

Mr. Cohen gets half a point for finding the talent to make himself rich – and loses it for not having any positive talent of his own to share with the world.

Ruth Reichl, despite barely being able to put together a decent sentence, has done well for herself (check her unverified bio on Wikipedia). One half point for that. But her boarding school upbringing has apparently turned her into a pompous ass. Consider her words on Yelp ("Anybody who believes Yelp is an idiot. Most people on Yelp have no idea what they are talking about.") and Zagat's ("I've always hated Zagat. If I'm going to listen to someone else's opinions on restaurants, I don't care if I agree or not. I just want to know who they are."). Makes me wonder how she can taste anything with all the vomit in her mouth. I am encouraged by the idea that she doesn't care what I say about her and that she just wants to know who I am. Nevertheless...Final score: minus one point.

Anne Bass gets a full point for bringing Sokvannara Sar, a teenage dancer from Cambodia to the US and giving him a shot at a storybook experience. Giving her documentary the fantastically-uninspired title “Dancing Across Borders” loses her a quarter point. WSJ is penalized the remaining three-quarters for equating her well-funded hobbies with luminescence.

Ali Pincus does not get any points until her “billion dollar company” turns a profit.

Simon Doonan gets a full point for speaking his flamboyant mind plus another half point for being the only one of the six luminaries who doesn’t take himself seriously in his one-column blurb on April’s topic.

Which leads me to say the guy with the loud floral shirts wins for having the most taste.

And makes me think I need to stop wearing plain white shirts.

In theory.