Geoffrey Long
Tip of the Quill: Archives
The rule of the knife.

Every so often, I pull up to my desk, reach for one of the five coffee mugs I keep full of pens, highlighters, scissors and other assorted desk tools, and select a thin, black shaft with metal at one end and a plastic cap at the other. This is no pen or mechanical pencil – this, like an asp hidden among garter snakes, is my X-Acto Gripster pen knife, and I like to think that every time my fingers wrap around it, a tiny shriek is heard from the lower shelf of my desk. That shriek comes from the magazines that have been accumulating for the past X number of months. They know what's coming. Evisceration.

As I've noted before, I am a complete and utter magazine junkie. That's what happens when you yourself are a zine publisher, and a designer to boot. My "desk" is actually two mammoth worktables brought together, gargantuan works of art that my Dad built for me back in high school. One is about five feet wide, and the other is eight or nine. Both are almost as deep as my arm. They overlap in the corner, thanks to tighter space in my current room than in my one back home, have white formica tops with dark wood edging, and have legs and feet forged from black steel. About a foot or so off the ground is another shelf, a plain white strip of storage space that I absolutely adore, because it allows me a place to stow papers, shelving units, and most of all, magazines. I have approximately six feet of magazines under the long desk. Every six months or so, I grab that knife and start hacking out the articles I either want to keep, or managed to miss the first time around. Usually, this exercise results in a pile of glossy paper about three inches tall.

That all that paper can be condensed into a tight fistful of actually desirable content is sort of sick. It's a proud moment of efficiency, when I can haul those bags of paper out to the curb and I can gaze at the wonderful openness of that shelf, but it's also a Sisyphean task. In six months, I'll have to do it all over again. But that's okay. As a magazine junkie, I don't really mind – and I enjoy the refresher course on what the last six months in the culture have been like.

Take, for example, this morning's romp through past issues of GQ and Vanity Fair. I read these because I like to "keep my finger on the pulse," as gagworthy as that phrase is, and because they usually have pretty decent articles. For instance, I just sheared an article out of a past issue of VF on the artwork of Francisco Goya. Sure, there's a ton of fluff and nonsense, but there's that three inches of worthwhile content to pluck out of there, and, as with the Goya article, there's a lot of information in there I probably wouldn't get otherwise.

Also, another interesting thing I'm noticing: the new GQ, under the new editor (although I do admit that I miss the late Art Cooper) is not too bad. Yes, there's still an absolute glut of ads, but I suppose that's the lifeblood of magazines. One reason I'm interested to see what The Atlantic will be doing in the next 12 months is the new owner's declaration to increase the price of its ads, so they can offer a better content-to-shill ratio. Here's hoping it catches on. Anyway, the new GQ has featured Mos Def (Left Ear from the recent The Italian Job remake), lured David Sedaris away from Esquire, and has been offering some nice pieces on basic men's style, which I think is wonderful. Someone in the new bullpen has realized that not every guy gives a damn when it comes to gels versus pomades – we'd rather know if we're supposed to shave up or down, and what color of flower to bring our girlfriends on some random date. (Does a constant reliance on red roses dilute the effect? Mmmmm... Probably. Probably also depends on the girl.) And, while there's still a clear trending towards the Details/Maxim end of the spectrum, they're managing to temper it with a decent dose of classic GQ style, talking about what kind of cuts to look for in a suit, what classic watches are worth, that kind of thing. Being the pretentious bastard I am, I prefer that kind of thing in my men's magazines to, say, an eighteen-page pictorial of Anna Kournikova. Content, people, content. If we want Anna, we have ESPN for that. Just give us the four best pictures of Anna, and we'll be fine.

So far, I've cleared about half a foot off the shelf already, and I have a ways to go. If you'll excuse me, my X-Acto knife is waiting.


Reminds me of when I took an exacto knife to that stack of Playboy magazines back in college...

Wait a minute, did I say that out loud?

Too... Many... Jokes...

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