Monday, January 7, 2013


One of the things I enjoy about reading magazines I don’t often read is that the writing tends to seem new and interesting. And also, sometimes, annoying.

While I was reading that Vogue on the plane I came across the word “sartorial” which means “of or relating to a tailor or his craft.” I only know that because Barney explained it once on “How I Met Your Mother” and it stuck to the sticky part of my brain.

So I came across this word – all high faluten and fancy pants – on page 22 while charting the “sartorial evolution” of the actress Allison Williams who is on “Girls” and is – turns out – also the daughter of Brian Williams.

I shrugged a little. It is a fashion magazine after all and so the word is in their wheelhouse, so why not rock it? I drop the word “semiotic” whenever the fuck I can because I have a very expensive English degree. So live and let live.

BUT THEN! There was the word again! Right there on page 59 introducing a spread on the best dressed actresses of 2012 and describing “Kristen Stewart’s disregard for sartorial convention” and so now I know that I am being punked, in what is surely the world’s weirdest and most specific punk ever. Firstly, Kristen Steward does not has a disregard for sartorial convention, she just dresses poorly and makes odd choices (for instance, the choice to become an actress even though she lacks the ability to emote with her face.) And secondly, I have no problem with somebody dropping a nice ten dollar word occasionally, but twice and so close together? That’s a bit much and it makes me think that the writes over there all had a slumber party and watched “How I Met Your Mother “ on DVD and all listened to Barney say the word and all of them simultaneously and joyously jotted it down in their pink dream journals. But whatever. No big deal. Nobody cares but me anyway. So I read on.

AND THEN! SIX PAGES LATER! THERE IT WAS AGAIN! On page 65 describing Emma Stone’s “sartorial powers” and keep in mind that this was a photo spread, so the only text on the intervening six pages was in caption form. Well this just did not make me happy at all. I quickly composed a letter of complaint in my head:   

Dear The Sartorial Writing Staff at Vogue Magazine,


The Editors at Standardkink

And I would have sent it too, except I was on a plane and also I am too lazy to ever actually send any of my letters of complaint, of which I have drafted very, very many.

I suppose it could be worse. I suppose that the word could just never be used and it could be allowed so slowly wither and die like so many good words (“civility” is a good word that has died this way, both as a word and as a value too). However, something about the way it was used THREE TIMES so quickly in a magazine that should know lots and lots of fashion-related words, just made its use seem somehow cheap. To me at least, and I have obviously spent a lot of time ruminating on this.

Fear not though. I also read a copy of The New Yorker on that flight and, say what you will about the puffed up elitists over there at The New Yorker, they know how to use words. And they use them dizzying well. They can build sentences like Rube Goldberg machine. On page 44 of the December 24 & 31, 2012 issue, while describing damaged art that is not worth repairing, they wrote:

Such works – those for which the cost of conservation and the subsequent loss in market value are greater than the amount for which the works are insured – will enter into a strange netherworld.

That ladies and gentlemen, is a motherfucking sentence.

I’m not saying it is the best one ever, but it certainly is bold and almost taunting. (The best sentence, some say, is from the Bible and it is this: Jesus wept. One of my favorite sentences is from a book called “My Cousin, My Gastroenterologist” by Mark Leyner, but I will tell you about that some other time.)

However, later in that same issue - and kind of sorta lamely - on page 132 in a review of the movie “This is 40” a writer is talking about the bourgeois family in the movie saying, “Here is all the plentitude and warmth and the triviality and sadness of Los Angeles life.” Although, what would one expect from a magazine that considers itself the reliable and worthy maker of taste for New York City. To prove that NYC can’t help itself from LA-basing, the review – which is a review of a sweet and completely harmless comedy mind you – also waxes rhapsodic by bemoaning, “In Los Angeles, time has a particular poignancy, since the body can never be young enough to satisfy an unsustainable ideal.” You know, that is probably even true, but I have spent a lot of time in New York and I have seen some pretty bad plastic surgery there too. Just saying.

Now that I have written this admittedly complainy and pretentious blog post, I will try to redeem my humanity in your eyes by posting the below pictures of Emma Stone (because it is tangentially related and because EVERYONE has a crush on Emma Stone) and a heart meltingly cute kitten.


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