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January 20, 2011


Why Vanity Fair is the best magazine, even with covers like this

Justin Bieber cover of Vanity Fair, Feb 2011

Of all the magazines I subscribe to, Vanity Fair is consistently the best, the one I'm most likely to read cover to cover. Sometimes carrying my copy around with me and reading it in public or on the subway can be a little embarrassing, due to covers like the one on the current issue (February).

I don't know if the general public understands that, yes, I'm reading a magazine with Justin Bieber on the cover, but the article that I'm reading at this moment is about how J.D. Salinger's experiences on the beaches of Normandy influenced the development of the Holden Caulfield character, or about the history and culture of The Guardian newspaper and how that determined its rocky partnership with Julian Assange and WikiLeaks.

Or maybe I am, at this moment, reading the Justin Bieber article. But this is what really makes Vanity Fair great: I would guess that it's the best Justin Bieber article yet written, anywhere. I'm not completely kidding, here. In this article, we learn that Justin understands that more guys might start coming to his concerts after he turns 18; that he can solve a Rubik's Cube in 2 minutes; that Kanye's remix of one of his songs features Raekwon; and that his mom is younger than I am. (I know!)

Most of the reason this Justin Bieber article is so good and relevant to a non-tween audience is the author, Lisa Robinson. She's interviewed Lady Gaga, Michael Jackson (many times) and Kanye, and written articles about pop stars that reach beyond the existing fans. Which brings us to her Justin Bieber article, which I have to say is a really good read.

Just about all the celebrity stuff in Vanity Fair is good, even after losing the beloved Dominick Dunne (especially the features on dead movie stars and the making of classic movies by Sam Kashner.) The political stuff is good, the analysis of the financial crisis was probably the best anywhere, and the random pieces on the world's greatest surfers or a Florida private investigator that caught a serial killer are unexpected and consistently great.

My only complaints: too much stuff about the Kennedys, and the occasional piece that is so exclusively targeted to the extremely rich or people who wish they were extremely rich that I can't get myself to read it. I'll read an article about what kind of psychology/pathology inspires a person to spend $80 million on a yacht, but I don't much care about the yachts themselves.

categories: Celebrities, Media, Movies, Music, Politics
posted by amy at 11:56 AM | #

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Check out that girl sitting by the door. Is she reading about Justin Bieber? Oh my God, she is. How embarrassing. Does she realize this is New York, not Fort Lee? Let's go sit in another car.

Posted by: T-Rock at January 25, 2011 10:52 AM

Yeah, my social life has really suffered because of this damn magazine cover. I had to check my issue at the door when I tried take it into the steam room at Soho House, and when I went to the Waverly Inn to meet Mila Kunis for dinner, with Vanity Fair in hand, Graydon Carter himself turned me away. "It's your magazine!," I protested. He grimaced, producing three additional chins.

Posted by: amy at January 25, 2011 2:32 PM

How much does Vanity Fair cost in the states these days? I pay more than twelve bucks for it at the import shop (The Economist is almost ten). It makes me feel even guiltier for buying it when I have ten books waiting to be read at any given time.

Posted by: Tim at January 27, 2011 11:20 PM

Cover price is $5 here, but annual subscriptions are something like $16, which puts it in the Almost Free category. Cable TV costs 5 times that every single month. VF is the greatest media bargain out there (if you're in the US, that is.)

International subscriptions are $68, not too bad. Close to the US cover price.


Posted by: amy at January 28, 2011 11:09 AM

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