December 21, 2005



They Paid Me To Read This Stuff

By Peter Carlson, Washington Post Staff Writer

In 2005, Popular Science magazine published a story called "How
Cannibalistic Spider Sex Can Make You a Genius" and Bible Review magazine
published a story called "Song of Songs: Not Just a Dirty Book," and Baby
Talk magazine published a story called "Is it love . . . or gas? Decode your
baby's emotions."

Yes, folks, 2005 was another wild and wacky year for American magazines. How
wild and wacky was it? Well, let's check the clips:

In 2005, GQ conducted a random survey of 1,000 American men and learned
this: 13 percent have paid for sex and 11 percent have prayed for sex.

Hoping to raise the intellectual level of frat boys, Esquire suggested a
series of "highbrow drinking games," which included these: "Every time
Charlie Rose interrupts his guest, take a shot. . . . Read The New Yorker
and do a shot every time you encounter a vowel with a diaeresis (coordinate,
reelection, et cetera)."

Fifth Estate, an anarchist magazine, published its 40th anniversary issue
and emblazoned the cover with the magazine's slogan: "Supporting Revolution
Everywhere since 1965."

Details, the glossy magazine for young metrosexual males, published the
"Power 50," its annual list of "the 50 most powerful guys under 39." Coming
in at No. 2 was Maddox Jolie, the 4-year-old adopted son of Angelina Jolie,
and the "home wrecker" who, Details claimed, broke up the marriage of Brad
Pitt and Jennifer Aniston: "This devil wore diapers. For wasn't it the
devilishly adorable Maddox who set the fatherhood-obsessed Pitt's heart

Which means the editors of Details might be the only people on Earth who
think a guy would chuck his wife in order to get next to . . . Angelina
Jolie's son.

Taki Theodoracopulos got off a memorable screed in his column in the
American Conservative. His subject was the delicious catfight at the New
York Times between jailbird reporter Judith Miller and columnist Maureen

"Whom would you favor in a mud-wrestling match to the finish, Judith Miller
or Maureen Dowd?" Taki asked. "Personally, I think la Dowd might pull it
off. Miller has spent too much time taking dictation from the Pentagon and
the Iraqi National Congress to be in fighting shape. . . . The longer it
goes on, the more Dowd is favored."

America's science magazines did not stoop to printing screeds. Instead, they
raised cosmic questions. Scientific America asked: "Is the Universe Out of
Tune?" And Discover asked: "Is String Theory About to Snap? Or does it
explain everything about the universe?" The answer to both questions was

Radar, a magazine that was born and died in 2003, was born and died again in
2005. But before its second death, it ran a story on Disney World that
contained what might be the single best sentence of the year: "In 2004, a
man playing Pluto was run over and killed by a 'princess float' in the Share
a Dream Come True parade at Disney World's Magic Kingdom."

Like nearly every other American magazine, High Times, the marijuana mag,
ran a story about the war in Iraq. The High Times piece was by a
pseudonymous soldier who smoked hashish in Iraq and found that the war was,
like, a real buzzkill. "The surroundings," he wrote, "were never very
conducive to a complete enjoyment of the high."

Modern Drunkard, the magazine with the slogan, "Standing up for your right
to get falling down drunk since 1996," published the best editorial
disclaimer of the year:

"Views expressed in this magazine do not necessarily reflect the opinions of
the Modern Drunkard staff or publisher. In fact, I would like to take this
opportunity to deny everything. Your honor, I was never even near the place
and what's more, those are not my trousers and those are most assuredly not
my friends. They are merely a drunken and surly gang of hitchhikers I made
the terrible, terrible mistake of giving a lift. I promise to be good.
Really. I swear."

In 2005, many magazines tried to lure younger readers. Vanity Fair's effort
was perhaps the most . . . um, confrontational. It sponsored an essay
contest on the topic of "What's on the minds of America's youth today?" The
text of the contest announcement read: "More than 30 years ago, young people
across the country staged sit-ins for civil rights, got up and protested
against a misguided, undeclared war and actually gave a damn if a president
lied to them. . . . Today it seems as if younger Americans are content to
watch their MTV, fiddle with their game players, follow the love lives of
Brad, Jen, Jessica and Paris, and assume the hard work is being done by
others. What has changed?"

In other words: Hey, kids, how come you're such mindless morons?

In 2005, GQ magazine revealed that deep down inside, your murderous
megalomaniacal dictators are just like the rest of us -- they love to eat
junk food, party hearty and have a good joke.

First, GQ published a story on the American soldiers who guarded Saddam
Hussein in a secret Iraqi prison. They reported that Saddam hates Froot
Loops but loves Cheetos and Doritos. He also enjoyed telling jokes,
including one about three men and a sheep. And, like many American
conservatives, he misses Ronald Reagan, who aided him in his war with Iran:
"Reagan and me, good," he told the soldiers.

After that, GQ ran a story on North Korean dictator Kim Jong Il. It included
an interview with Kenji Fujimoto, who used to be Kim's personal chef.
Fujimoto invited Kim to his wedding and the dictator watched as Fujimoto got
so drunk on cognac that he passed out on the dance floor.

"The next day, Kim Jong Il calls me in," Fujimoto told GQ. "He praises my
drinking ability and asks me, 'By the way, do you have any pubic hair?' I
say, 'Of course, I do.' Kim Jong Il says, 'Why don't you go to the toilet
and look at your pubic hair?' I went there, and there was none."

There you have it, folks -- the kind of magic magazine moment you'll want to
remember next time you're tempted to drink too much at a North Korean


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