Bubba Good-Naturedly Fills a Satiric Void
Among the factors that went into the defeat of President Bush, don’t overlook this: Voters were impatient for a change in satire.
Quayle Quarterly, the magazine devoted to bashing the VP, had become a bit stale. Now magazine editors are rushing to fill the vacuum left by the vacuous one.
Gore Quarterly has yet to emerge.
But the premiere issue of Bubba Magazine reveals that our new President can look every bit as dorky in photographs (the shot of Clinton on a state fair flight simulator is priceless) as the former vice president ever did.
Bubba-- a southern/Texan term of endearment--entered the national vernacular during the campaign.
But on a less pleasant level, it’s a word some white people, born to privilege, now use to express a seething contempt--perhaps subconscious--for folks who have the audacity to rise to power without benefit of an old-money trust fund.
Bubba’s editors are conflicted in their feelings about the Bubba breed of interloper.
Garland Pollard IV, for instance, shows just how tough elitists can be by going after the President’s mother: “Her hair is two-tone. She wears more lash than Tammy Faye and about as many rings as Liberace. She’s been married five times to four men. . . .”
Overall, though, the magazine is a good-natured, occasionally lame, lark through the Bubba realm. Here cow-tipping is more popular than polo, barbecues are made out of 55-gallon drums and folks “think that thirtysomething is how many beers $15 will buy. . . .”
“Bubba Sez” is a list of fortune cookie slogans some Texas entrepreneurs dreamed up, such as: “Bubba sez cats are like Baptists. They raise hell, but you can’t catch them at it.”
Elsewhere, G. O. Nix Jr. points out that Clinton’s hair “wouldn’t look out of place at a Christian tractor pull,” and Charlie Slack analyzes the fact that Hillary is “no Bubbette.”
Some critics, he says, are even calling her “Bill’s Yoko Ono. . . . Don’t forget that after John and Yoko united, you had to buy half an album of her songs just to get half an album of his.”
Still, Heidi Yorkshire’s travelogue on “the Mockingbird State” makes it abundantly clear why Hillary would follow her hubby to Arkansas, rather than coaxing him to abandon his Bubba roots and head east.
Where else, after all, can one find the Spinach Capital of the World, the Minnow Capital of the World and the Whittling Capital of the World in one state?
Now, the editors argue, Bubba vogue will sweep the nation.
As the editors point out in their “Toast to the First Bubba President:”
“The American experience shows that no matter how far Bubba goes--to the biggest mansion in the ritziest part of town . . . to the presidency of the United States itself--he never leaves Bubbadom behind. There will always be that persistent little voice in his ear: glory be, it’s almost hunting season. “
* Maybe you’ve noticed: Observing animals in the wild is a bit like watching celebrities on Rodeo Drive. They’re not nearly as interesting, as exciting, as on, as they were when you last saw them on the tube.
In an engrossing essay in the February Harper’s Magazine, Charles Siebert discusses this phenomenon and the effect shows like “Wild Kingdom” have on humankind’s perception of the wild world.
“The Artifice of the Natural--How TV’s nature shows make all the earth a stage” leads viewers on a history of the genre, which has become more and more removed from reality as television has matured as a medium.
At one point, Siebert realizes of his walks in the woods: “They begin with such a deep sense of disappointment not so much in, but from, my surroundings. It’s a disappointment rooted in the disparity between the ways in which we now represent nature to ourselves and the way it actually is; between that flitting, omniscient, nature-show overview delivering me from one available, arcane wonder to the next and the plodding, myopic bulk of me within such a mute and long-lived presence.”
* Here’s a new culprit for last spring’s riots: The Los Angeles County district attorney’s office.
In the February Playboy, former prosecutor Vincent Bugliosi, relying in part on a study by the Los Angeles Daily News, shows just how few police brutality cases have been prosecuted by the D.A.'s office, despite the 5% “rogue cops” Bugliosi says are out there illegally shooting and assaulting minorities.
A co-defendant in Bugliosi’s indictment is the Christopher Commission, which investigated the Los Angeles Police Department.
Bugliosi charges the commission with a “colossal lack of insight,” asserting that it ". . . apparently believes that the D.A.'s job is to prosecute all members of the community except the police.”
* After National Geographic and Playboy, The New Yorker may be the least quickly discarded magazine in America--at least in part because it takes so long to read.
Now, at long last, the weekly has published an index--not for all its 68 years, but at least for 1992. John McPhee contributes an opening essay to the stand-alone, neatly stapled, 22-page insert to this week’s issue.
The full-color catalogue of all last year’s covers is reason enough to save the index. Trendiness watchers take note: There are two references to Madonna in the index, both after new editor Tina Brown’s arrival.
Speaking of whom: Brown stirred things up last week with her Valentine’s cover, a controversial portrait of a Hasidic man smooching a black woman by “Maus"-man Art Spiegelman.
Even as folks bickered over the propriety of that cover, rumors spread that the magazine’s most sacred tradition, of having the monocled lepidopterist Eustace Tilley on the cover of this week’s anniversary issue, would be somehow altered.
Traditionalists can rest easy. The snob is on the cover as always.
But inside, he is (to quote the magazine), “canned, Fauved, Cubed, flayed, bloated, steamrolled and so on . . . " by a host of artists, including Spiegelman.
Among the most interesting depictions are Ronald Searle’s Tilley posed, a la King Kong, atop the Empire State Building and Red Groom’s portrait of Tilley’s face illuminating a darkened neighborhood like a police helicopter’s spotlight.
Most amusing is cartoonist Roz Chast’s “The New Yorker Repackaged,” in which Tilley’s snooty mug appears on such items as a bread package, a sardine can, a Popsicle and as industrial strength “New-Yorker-in-a-Drum.”
* Also, on the cover front, the March Vanity Fair features alternative covers. The cover originally intended for all issues features actress Andie MacDowell in a pose vaguely reminiscent of Demi Moore’s cover shot.
Then President Clinton agreed to sit for photographer-to-the-rock-stars, Annie Leibovitz, and the editors decided to stick that shot on some covers.
In fact, there’s nothing striking about the black-and-white Clinton cover--"the first magazine portrait of Bill Clinton as President. . . .”
What is interesting, and mildly unsettling, is Leibovitz’s portfolio of the President’s inner circle, inside the magazine. It’s really cool that the first rock ‘n’ roll Prez can jam on the sax and all. But does America really want a government run by people so shamelessly willing to strike the same silly poses as Axl Rose and Marky Mark?
NEW ON NEWSSTANDS
There are two frustrating things about this column.
1). A lot of great stuff in magazines inevitably falls through the cracks and never gets mentioned.
2). The stories that make the cut can be excerpted only in the most cursory manner.
The National Times, which describes itself as “a monthly review of essential news and comment from leading U.S. and world media,” scoops up and prints fine stories from almost 200 newspapers and magazines, ranging from Buzz and Buzzworm to the Los Angeles Times.
Publisher and Editor-in-Chief David Krebs’ skill in selecting articles is affirmed by the fact that some articles were previously mentioned here.
Highlights from the 36 articles, editorials and reviews in the February issue include a story about how teen-age murderers shrug off responsibility for their crimes, by Dianna Marder of the Philadelphia Inquirer, and “Small Wars, Big Profits” by Tim Kelsey from “The Independent on Sunday.”
Reprinted on slick paper, with excellent production values, this is an essential addition for those media junkies whose coffee tables are already cluttered with old World Press Reviews, Utne Readers and Readers’ Digests.
($36 for 1 year, 12 issues, to 318 East 84th Street, New York, NY 10028-4422 or (800)-4321-TNT.)