Recent links of note:
“The End of Men’s Magazines”
Brian Patrick Eha, City Journal
Many forget that Hugh Hefner, whose outfit by the ’70s had become the near-official signum of pubescent-male aspiration, launched his journalistic career at Esquire. He borrowed much indeed from the erstwhile holy book of American masculinity. Founded in 1933, Esquire revolutionized journalism and marketing alike by orchestrating “the first thoroughgoing, conscious attempt to organize a consuming male audience,” according to the scholar Kenon Breazeale. The magazine cultivated a healthy sartorial taste in its readers and, for a while at least, balanced its raunchy humor and “cheesecake” offerings (pin-ups) with top-notch prose from the likes of Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and Langston Hughes. Playboy would take a similar tack, for a time supplementing pictures of increasingly “liberated” models with copy from the likes of Vladimir Nabokov, Ray Bradbury, Norman Mailer, and even the feminist icon Margaret Atwood.
Of the two camps—high- and low-brow content—it is easy to see which one magazine executives have since decided to throw in with, to disastrous result. For Esquire, Playboy, GQ, et al., the steady decline of the 2000s has accelerated to a free-fall. Of course, the trumped-up sex appeal of the magazine’s heyday has gone out of style—too much dressing, if you will, and not enough meat. But perhaps more alarming, as Brian Patrick Eha notes, is the alacrity with which the very notion of a men’s-interest magazine appealing to men has been jettisoned by media elites. (Find the latest copy of GQ for evidence.) Our society has made it difficult to even discuss, let alone celebrate, masculinity qua masculinity and not under the aspect of a noxious and foreboding odor, one which has barely weathered the weapons-grade ammonia lavished upon it by custodians in the academy and the media. Men are now nearly four times more likely than women to commit suicide. Mainstream advocates for healthy masculinity have been desperately needed for decades. Amid the decay of these cultural organs, we now find ourselves with fewer advocates for masculinity of any sort.
“Inside the Louvre’s Secret Negotiations to Mount the Biggest Leonardo da Vinci Show Ever”
Kelly Crow, The Wall Street Journal
As one would imagine, mounting a major exhibition is a daunting and thankless undertaking that can stretch on for years. Curators often search far and wide to arrange loans for the works that will fill out a show, and for a museum already to own even a majority of the desired works for an exhibition would be considered a blessing. So to say that the loaning and borrowing of Leonardo’s work among European museums, all eager to commemorate the five-hundredth anniversary of his death, has met with some congestion would be an understatement. Even more so at the Louvre, which is perceived by many to be the art mecca of Europe: encompassing roughly 160 works by Leonardo and his contemporaries, the exhibition currently on display represents the largest gathering in history of the artist’s oeuvre under one roof. One would think that owning more da Vinci than most anyone in Europe, as the Louvre does, would help meet that goal. Alas, “more than most” is in this case only thirty-two, or a fifth of the total catalogue. (The Mona Lisa and its perpetually thronged gallery room amply demonstrate the logistical nightmare that this exhibition represents; officials have decided to leave the painting in its regular location during the exhibition.) Writing for The Wall Street Journal, Kelly Crow delves into the dizzying array of curatorial procedure, diplomatic imbroglio, and timely intervention that allowed the curators, Louis Frank and Vincent Delieuvin, to place such a massive show before the public. Look for James Hankins’s review in a forthcoming issue of The New Criterion.
For The Churchill Documents, an undertaking of gargantuan scale, Hillsdale College has been steadily sifting through all of the correspondence that crossed the statesman’s desk during his prodigious political career. Now up to its twenty-second and penultimate volume, which spans 1945–51, the project has reached an oft-overlooked phase of the old lion’s biography: although it represents a quasi-interregnum of sorts between his two terms as prime minister, the period covers some of the most pertinent events to the international post-war landscape, including the atomic bombing of Japan, the partition of India, and the creation of a permanent Israeli state. Nor did Churchill play a small part on that stage: his 1946 Iron Curtain speech in Missouri, for instance, demonstrated the weight that his words still carried on a global scale. The historian Andrew Roberts, who has written a Churchill biography of his own, concludes that the Churchill Documents enterprise “will generally be considered one of the great publishing achievements of the era.” The final volume is slated for release this fall.
The rake unpunished
by George Loomis
On Don Giovanni at the Rome Opera
Thunder and lightning
by Jay Nordlinger
Denis Matsuev, Russian pianist, in recital.