Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Remember Spy?

Remember Spy Magazine?

It was a brutally funny magazine that hit its peak in the late eighties. I always thought it was as if the New Yorker and the National Lampoon had a love child. When I roomed with college buddies Dan and Mark after college, we had a subscription to it. I can't remember which day of the month it was, but the magazine usually arrived on a particular day in the month. Each of us would frantically dash home get at the magazine first.

There were a lot of memorable regular features: separated at birth (Mary Tyler Moore and Caesar Romero as the Joker on the Batman Show) and the annual New York City Nightlife Ironman Triathalon were notable examples. One of my favorite-ever articles was the "100 Most Loathsome People of New York"; approximately one fourth one of them were Donald Trump in various capacities-- real estate developer, husband, father, celebrity, etc. Another one was Cliff Notes for Jay Macinerney's "Bright Lights, Big City" and Tama Janowitz' "Slaves of New York."

They could be crude, but required a cultural literacy. To get the joke about the Ironman Nightlife Triathalon you had get know that the "participants" were night-clubbing, womanizing New York-based authors whose literary output had dropped off-- i.e. this is why their literary output had plummetted.

Why did Spy die? Part of it was that the eighties ended; the eighties had so much fodder for ridicule and parody. Part of it was economics-- the recession of the early nineties. And part of it is probably that it's audience got older.

In this age of mediocrity, the age of sporks, focus-group-guided endings to movies and the USA Today, I wonder if there'll be a magazine with the same combination of intelligence and wit as Spy had. While I wait, probably forever, It's a good thing I've got my bloggers. The reason I love reading blogs, something I've only started doing in the last year, is that I often see that same combination of humor, anger, indignation and satire that made me love Spy Magazine. I had no idea-- I wish I hadn't waited so long.

6 comments:

lulu said...

I absolutely LOVED Spy magazine. There was a collection of some of the best stuff released this fall, called Spy: The Funny Years

vikkitikkitavi said...

Radar tries to be Spy. They don't succeed very well.

Barbara Bruederlin said...

Oh sure put all the pressure on the poor bloggers! We can't bring the 80's back! *wink*

Johnny Yen said...

Lu-
Thanks, I saw that while looking it up-- it's on my short list of "to get" books.

Vikki-
That's a shame. Having watched the Lampoon and then Spy die slow, painful, increasingly unfunny deaths, I'd love to see a great new humor magazine.

Barb-
Hey, if we don't do it, who will?

Grant Miller said...

I loved Spy. I picked up the Spy book for my brother in law for Xmas. But no one bought it for me. Hint hint!!

Erik Donald France said...

Oh yeah, I remember
Spy -- it was wicked :->