I still read Details (“for men”). (In fact, a few of my pointless and forgettable and indeed forgotten music reviews, edited by belittling, glib popinjay Gavin Edwards, ran in the magazine during its 1990s incarnation. Cf. AgendaWatch™.) I can blaze through a copy in less time than it takes to enjoy my morning espresso. I was thus surprised to read, in the current April 2006 issue, Jeff Gordinier’s solid and blistering confessional that the entire project of Generation X has failed. It’s a startling and trenchant piece, marred only by a weak closing that will surely be improved in the inevitable anthologizing.

The foregoing is the complete list of my surprises from this issue. Least surprising of all was the cover subject, Vin Diesel. Wherever could we have seen him before?

Vin Diesel – dressed in a suit, in a tank top, in a V-necked T-shirt – on three covers of ‘Details’

(UPDATE, 2006.04.23)    And in fact, there were two covers, one with Diesel wearing his suitjacket and loosening his tie, the other with him holding his jacket on his arm. (Note the fists.) ¶ (UPDATE, 2006.10.30)    The Vin Diesel cover caused sales to nosedive 30%.

Two identical issues of ‘Details’ with different colours (one with red accent type, the other with pale blue)

This trio of dieselian panegyrics leaves as strong an impression as a well-chosen pair of jeans. Nonetheless, with my linguistics training it was just barely possible to sum up these closely-argued treatises.

April 2003

“Journalist” David Hochman goes for a ride in Diesel’s SUV, and that seems to be the entirety of the interview process. One’s mental image involves a 20-minute drive in the Diesel gas-guzzler with a hovering, punctilious female or gay-male publicist unseatbelted in the rear. The poor dear’s front delts (unlike Diesel’s) could only grow weary of holding the necessary tape recorder within the space between the front seats. Hochman was able to feel very honoured, very special by accompanying the italonegric “movie star” to his producer’s office.

References to ethnic and racial background, Multi-Facial, and musculature? Check ✔.

June–July 2004

Journalist Mim Udovitch (do not ever cross her, or you will receive a telephone call putting you in your place) walks down the street with the “actor” and his “nice, vaguely arty mom.” One envisions a female or gay-male publicist, tape recorder outstretched, stumbling in heels Tootsie-style one pace behind them while struggling to keep up.

References to ethnic and racial background, Multi-Facial, and musculature? Check ✔.

April 2006

Manly cranberry juice (presumably on the rocks) shared with “journalist” Kevin Gray at SoHo House, where the entire article takes place. There’s so little content to pad out the shopworn backstory that four grafs are dedicated to explaining how some goombahs sat down at the adjoining table. (At an adjoining table. The tense, schoolmarmish, control-freak female or gay-male publicist no doubt flanked the “acclaimed” personality and the tightly-scheduled celebrity chronicler.)

References to ethnic and racial background, Multi-Facial, and musculature? Check ✔. Gutsy, iconoclastic reference to persistent rumours of homosexualism? Check ✔.

I also did a quick count of the magazine’s full-page photos of Diesel: Eight shots with long sleeves, six with short sleeves or none. Love will, at times, sublimate itself in sport coats and collared shirts.

I have an idea for heterosexualist editor Danny Peres. Instead of those “controversial,” now tedious, “Gay or blank?” photo features on the magazine’s back page, why don’t we try something more relevant to the magazine’s reportorial style? I’m thinking of “Journalist or Vin Diesel Celebrity Profiler?” (And the month after that, conduct an interrogative of a another repeat cover subject with “Journalist or Ethan Hawke Celebrity Profiler?”)

In the time it takes to fly from San Jose to Austin, any competent software engineer could whip up an expert system to churn these nuggets out. But I’d beg off running a Turing test, because it would be Big Blue vs. Kasparov all over again and the real thing would flunk.

But, my God, look at his arms.

The foregoing posting appeared on Joe Clark’s personal Weblog on 2006.03.24 13:13. This presentation was designed for printing and omits components that make sense only onscreen. (If you are seeing this on a screen, then the page stylesheet was not loaded or not loaded properly.) The permanent link is:

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None. I quit.

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