Adorable Italianate invert wolfcub Matthew Fox, rare among Canadian belletrists in actually holding down a day job peripherally in the literary field, pauses from griping about the streetcar and mentioning his workouts to reveal that Toronto Life is about to be redesigned. (“Expect everything to be slicker and easier to navigate”! And with shitty code. Last time, they hired the best – then, as all design‑ and code-ignorant managers will do, sabotaged his work once he was out the door.)

This new redesign will not include James Chatto, one presumes, but that’s not the baffling part. Didn’t they just hire whippersnapper Jessica Rose to breathe new life into the journal of the dumb rich? True to her generation, she can’t design a page of type to save her life – explainable, in my experience with designers of her age, by the fact that young graphic designers cannot and will not read.

At a theoretical level, how does one “redesign” a city magazine that makes its own city unrecognizable? (Add “a lot of entry points on every page”?) A magazine for a city none of its readers bodily live in? (The sky above Toronto Life readers is the colour of a dowager, asleep on a Muskoka chair on the back deck.) A magazine devoted to a city of the aspiration? How many graphical ways are there to exalt the real-estate tastes of high-earning homosexualists?

Matthew Fox runs the most-lampooned Web site about Toronto. He holds down that job at a publishing house that considers shitcanning its Web-only writers a viable online strategy. (That resulted in a conspicuously credible chronology of the shitcanning obtained and published by Frank. What insider had that many facts at his disposal?)

How far can and does the fantastic Mr. Fox go on looks alone? How much credit does he get just for showing up in a well-fitted shirt? Is he so adorable we should buy (into) his enthusiasm? Is that how he truly feels? Would he have other stories to tell, if only he could pry himself out of that wretched place? Would he hesitate to do so, knowing that everyone to whom he could possibly tell those stories is a member of the social set that attends Toronto Life cocktail receptions – which, readers will be aware, is my proxy for this city’s journalistic Family Compact?

If Matthew Fox could in fact run the place better, would he ever be given the chance, and would he have the guts?

Is Toronto Life really an unkillable institution?

Are we on the verge of finding out?

The foregoing posting appeared on Joe Clark’s personal Weblog on 2010.07.09 13:01. 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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