Jan. 23, 2012
Canadian Heritage Minister James Moore got married during the Christmas break to long-time gal pal Courtney Payne, but forget about finding photographs of the nuptials in the pages of the latest Hello! There aren't any. If, however, you're keen on another Canuck couple who tied the knot recently, this space is the place to go, with Hello! Canada devoting six photo-packed pages to the wedding in Mexico of Canadian Defence Minister Peter MacKay and Iran-born beauty queen, singer and human-rights activist Nazanin Afshin-Jam. It's billed as an exclusive but it's not really: Of the nine photos in the package, three are also in the latest issue of Maclean's, a sister publication of Hello! in the Rogers Media stable. Maclean's cover also touts that it has "exclusive photos inside" but again not entirely correctly if one subscribes to the dictionary definition of exclusive ("not divided or shared with others"). In fact, there is just one picture of the newlyweds not found in Hello! Another interesting point: in Hello!, the MacKay/Afshin-Jam wedding actually takes second place to that of Holly Branson (daughter of billionaire Richard Branson) and Freddie Andrewes (who he?), which gets a whopping 15 pages. Still, prettiness is all!
The New York Review of Books
Jan. 12, 2012
Nice guys may not necessarily finish last, but it's unlikely they'll finish at the top. Certainly this is one of the conclusions you'll reach after reading Sue Halpern's takedown of Apple Computer CEO Steve Jobs, whose death last October at 56 sparked an astonishing outpouring of, well ... mourning, or at least the simulation thereof. Halpern's essay, ostensibly a review of Walter Isaacson's best-selling hagiography of the Apple co-founder, serves as a corrective to all the encomiums and myth-making; she comes more to bury the Caesar of computer software and hardware than to praise him. Genius though Jobs may have been (and Halpern, scholar-in-residence at Vermont's Middlebury College and wife of environmentalist Bill McKibben, even disputes this), he was also "a bully, a dissembler, a cheapskate, a deadbeat dad [and]a manipulator" who was only occasionally "very nice" and whose company is an "environmental wreck." If the term genius does apply to Jobs, she writes, it's largely because of his knack for "seeing, with preternatural clarity, the commercial implications and value of someone else's work."
Charles Dickens would be 200 this year and Christopher Hitchens 63 – if, that is, both were still alive. Alas, they are not, Dickens having died in 1870, Hitchens a mere month ago; nevertheless, their writing lives on, perhaps not forever but certainly for the time being, and in the latest VF, we get Hitchens devoting his monthly column, from the grave so to speak, to the genius of Dickens as author and man. The tribute, which effectively traverses Dickens's strengths and foibles, is billed on the cover as Hitchen's "last column" but surely this cannot be so. No doubt other magazine musings will be forthcoming, even if they don't fall under the rubric of "column." Following immediately on the Dickens is a memorial essay on Hitchens by his good friend, Salman Rushdie, who might be one more eulogized dead writer had not Hitchens helped stiffen the world's resistance to the fatwa imposed by Iran following the publication of The Satanic Verses. Rushdie argues that it was Hitchens's visceral atheism in recent years that "saved" Hitchens from the flak he took earlier for supporting "the misconceived war in Iraq."