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Ross MacDonald
March 2010
Oh, the Humanity....
posted:
You can be forgiven if you felt the need to turn away in disgust or shoo the little ones from the room when your horrified gaze fell upon this in the New York Times Week in Review section this past weekend....
Fishwrap....or WORSE!
posted:
I have a couple of big raggedy wadges of old sketches, clamped in bulldog clips, hanging on a hook on my wall. Every time a sketch I like gets killed, it joins the others on the wall of shame. Each bundle is over an inch thick, and in a filing cabinet drawer, there are a couple of file folders of older ones. There's gotta be a couple hundred in all, but who's counting?

Every once in awhile I go through the bundles - not to relive past glories, but to see if there's anything I can revive for another project. Recently I stumbled upon this classy gem. This was done back in late 2001 or early 2002 for Talk magazine - remember that? No? Talk was helmed by Tina Brown - ex of Vanity Fair, the New Yorker, and Tatler. It was a good mag - great journalism, but also great lashings of celebrity puff pieces. Talk debuted in 1999, and died a couple of years later. Last August, the New York TImes ran a great piece by David Carr about the lavish Talk Magazine launch party.

he said:
"Sponsored liquor flowed, women teetered about on heels in deep grass, and the A-list guest list — Mr. Kissinger, please meet Miss um Ms. uh meet Madonna — was a testament to the power of the synergized word. Content was king and Ms. Brown was its queen.
(...)
Too bad nobody saw the sharks circling in the harbor. Rather than the culmination of a century of press power, the Talk party was the end of an era, a literal fin de siècle. Flush with cash from the go-go ’90s and engorged by spending from the dot-com era, mainstream media companies seemed poised on the brink of something extraordinary. But that brink ended up being a cliff."
 
you can read the rest of it here:
http://www.nytimes.com/2009/08/03/business/media/03carr.html
 
It's a great article. There are still lots of great mags out there, and lots of great work being published, but after reading that piece I couldn't help but feel a little nostalgic for those days, and I immediately thought of this sketch.
 
I hadn't done any work for the mag, but had liked what I'd seen when I leafed through it on the newstand. So I was happy when a Talk art director called me (his name escapes me now) and asked me to illustrate a piece. The article (which, if I remember, hadn't actually been written yet) was about how the cachet of certain A-list celebrities was shrinking - they were no longer the huge stars they had once been.
This sketch seemed to sum that up to me - one minute you're on the cover of every magazine, the next minute, those mags are on the curb and a dog is peeing on them. Fame is fleeting. Little did I know then that Talk mag was fleeting too. The art director called back and said he loved the sketch but that they couldn't use it. He rather morosely said that it was "a little too close to the mark, unfortunately". I didn't know exactly what that meant till a month or two later when I heard that Talk had got the ax. By then I'd done a new sketch, which got approved, and turned in a final illustration.
 
It wasn't the first time that one of my illustrations had run in the final issue of a magazine -- and the way things are going, it may not be the last -- but it's a feeling you never get used to.  
 
I eventually got paid, but to me, having this sketch was all the reward I needed.
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