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Short-fingered vulgarians
February 16, 2011 5:35 PM   Subscribe

Google Books has digitized all issues of SPY, the 80s New York satirical magazine that combined humor with investigative reporting. Half the issues are now available; the other half will be released soon.
posted by catlet (106 comments total) 95 users marked this as a favorite

 
Google, whatever bad blood there's been between us... we're square now.

(wanders off to sigh over lost youth)
posted by Joe Beese at 5:39 PM on February 16, 2011 [7 favorites]


in the words of Walter Monheit: Oof! I smell an Oscar!
posted by scody at 5:43 PM on February 16, 2011 [4 favorites]


I used to enjoy reading Spy (and a similar Canadian mag called Frank, but after working on a couple of political campaigns for people I really respected, and after working in government as a bureaucrat with some politicians I really respected, I really lost my appetite for this sort of satire. It just seems so vicious and inaccurate. Then again, when politicians are bombing other countries and torturing illegally-detained prisoners, satire is a very important weapon.
posted by KokuRyu at 5:43 PM on February 16, 2011


Wow, I can finally see what all the noise was about.
posted by mwhybark at 5:46 PM on February 16, 2011


Their description of Trump as a "short fingered vulgarian" covers up a lot of sins.
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 5:47 PM on February 16, 2011 [2 favorites]


SPY is the only magazine I have ever subscribed to.
posted by L'Estrange Fruit at 5:48 PM on February 16, 2011 [2 favorites]


Same. Charter subscriber.
posted by Obscure Reference at 5:50 PM on February 16, 2011


Sweet... I have Spy: The Funny Years, but it will be nice to have the actual content again. As a high-school kid in the Midwest, it was a riveting view of a totally foreign world.
posted by candyland at 5:50 PM on February 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


*looks at near-mint near-complete run of SPY on my shelves and weeps for the lost potential eBay income*
posted by maudlin at 5:51 PM on February 16, 2011 [3 favorites]


The first thing I did when I saw this was search for Donald Trump.

The second thing I searched for was their attempt to recreate a Twinkie, but they haven't digitized that issue yet (July 1999).
posted by zippy at 5:54 PM on February 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


I was aware of this mag, but never had a chance to read an issue. What's the definitive must-read Spy article?
posted by Kraftmatic Adjustable Cheese at 5:57 PM on February 16, 2011


"80s New York satirical magazine"? More like '80s and '90s.
posted by John Cohen at 5:58 PM on February 16, 2011


Oh shit, guys, they're on to us!
posted by nasreddin at 6:02 PM on February 16, 2011


Aw man! These guys changed my life. From the moment a friend of mine in high school described the World's Cheapest Zillionaire gag on Trump to me, I was sold. Steven Segal: Man of Dishonor was another, later favorite. Google, I forgive you. For everything. Those Chinese dissidents you helped round up probably had it coming anyway.
posted by jake1 at 6:02 PM on February 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


The Twinkie story is from July 1989, not 1999, starting on page 96:
Twinkie, Twinkie, little suet-filled sponge-cake Crisco log, now I know just what you are.

by Jane and Michael Stern

Stern Twinkies (Stinkies)


FILLING

1 stick margarine
1/2 cup Crisco
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
3/4 cup evaporated milk
1 tablespoon nondairy creamer
1 tablespoon vanilla extract

CAKE

3 eggs
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup boiling water
1 cup sifted cake flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt

[Long instructions follow: am too blinded with tears to continue]
posted by maudlin at 6:04 PM on February 16, 2011 [3 favorites]


Where's the Irony issue? The one with Chevy Chase on the cover?
posted by biddeford at 6:05 PM on February 16, 2011


It speaks volumes that Trump remains rich (in spite of most of his corporations going bankrupt), famous and more powerful than ever today while Spy requires independent archiving.

Semi-related: can you name the Fake Frenchman on the page nasreddin linked to? I can, and it makes me sad.
posted by oneswellfoop at 6:06 PM on February 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


That's March 1989: not digitized yet.
posted by maudlin at 6:07 PM on February 16, 2011


Just when I thought I couldn't possibly see more yuppie-oriented design and content compressed into every ligature, the page after nasreddin's link is an ad for HEDONISM II, A Lush Garden of Pure Pleasure. No wonder they folded after the 90s; the zeitgeist was over.
posted by shii at 6:07 PM on February 16, 2011 [2 favorites]


Just to let you all know: You may not hear from me for a month or so. Please do not worry.

REJOICE!
posted by ricochet biscuit at 6:13 PM on February 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


shii: "Just when I thought I couldn't possibly see more yuppie-oriented design and content compressed into every ligature, the page after nasreddin's link is an ad for HEDONISM II, A Lush Garden of Pure Pleasure. No wonder they folded after the 90s; the zeitgeist was over."

Wait, you mean that wasn't a satirical ad ?!

*takes another look at that ad*
*first time that I'm reading Spy*
posted by fizzix at 6:15 PM on February 16, 2011


I hope the folks behind SPY are getting paid from this.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 6:15 PM on February 16, 2011


Wow, this makes me feel old... I think I got my first magazine rejection letter from Spy, and I'm sure I still have that Winona Ryder issue somewhere. I distinctly remember that the magazine went from sly and funny to boorish and sad about halfway through their run, possibly around the time the TV specials came out. Didn't they stop publishing for a while, and then came back with a new owner?
posted by turducken at 6:17 PM on February 16, 2011


Where's the Irony issue? The one with Chevy Chase on the cover?

Irony died when GQ put Vince Vaughn on its cover.
posted by sidereal at 6:31 PM on February 16, 2011


> I hope the folks behind SPY are getting paid from this.

I'd be pleasantly surprised if this were the case.
posted by darth_tedious at 6:31 PM on February 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


THIS IS THE BEST DAY OF MY ENTIRE LIFE YAAAAAAAY
posted by palomar at 6:33 PM on February 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


SWATCHES!
And I had completely forgotten about "Logrolling in Our Time."
posted by Dr. Zira at 6:37 PM on February 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


The first thing I did when I saw this was search for Donald Trump.

It will be difficult for the young 'uns to imagine this, but it once required a bit of courage to publicly insult Donald Trump.

Spy had balls.
posted by Joe Beese at 6:39 PM on February 16, 2011


I used to enjoy reading Spy (and a similar Canadian mag called Frank, but after working on a couple of political campaigns for people I really respected, and after working in government as a bureaucrat with some politicians I really respected, I really lost my appetite for this sort of satire. It just seems so vicious and inaccurate. Then again, when politicians are bombing other countries and torturing illegally-detained prisoners, satire is a very important weapon.

Word? The thing that strikes me about it is the quaint banality of it all. Take a look at July-August 1992, for instance. Reason #1 not to re-elect George H.W. Bush: he cheats on his wife!!! (p.31) Then, ZOMG, Richard Kaplan of ABC News actually gave President Clinton advice during the primaries?!? (p.14) Members of Congress made silly, implausible excuses for their overdrafts on the House bank (a/k/a the "Banking Scandal)!!! (p.24)

I guess that was edgy stuff then, and we've just defined decency down hard, but I'll take Spy -- which was well-written and hilarious even at its most obscure -- to the screaming-face cable shows and the hyper-partisan blogs any day of the week. Spy was about entertainment. The talk shows and the blogs (both sides, serious) are vicious and inaccurate without the chuckling.

This was a terrific public service by the Goog. And the advertisements make me misty-eyed.

Also, the Canadian equivalent was called "Frank?" Too funny. Those silly Canadians...
posted by Slap Factory at 6:40 PM on February 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


I recall most fondly Joe Queenan's "Admit it, it sucks..." series, covering IIRC The Civil War ("a hokey, small-time, ginsu-knife affair that would have been over in three months if the North's generals hadn't all been cowards, bunglers or drunks"), Jazz and Organic Groceries.
posted by fatbird at 6:45 PM on February 16, 2011


Maybe this will enable me to track down a higher quality copy of the Drew Friedman cartoon depicted here.
posted by Songdog at 6:50 PM on February 16, 2011


OMFG, I just came into my own brain. That and the new Radiohead album, the sun can fucking explode for all I care.
posted by dbiedny at 6:50 PM on February 16, 2011 [6 favorites]


What's the definitive must-read Spy article?

They certainly didn't pull any punches in their Schwarzenegger piece.

And "Jerry Goes To Death Camp" is the definitive article on The Day The Clown Cried. You can find it at the first link in Mr. Flanders' fine post on the film.
posted by Joe Beese at 6:53 PM on February 16, 2011


Irony died when GQ put Vince Vaughn on its cover.

Did you know GQ featured the Jersey Shore boys last month?
posted by sevenyearlurk at 6:53 PM on February 16, 2011


While this doesn't entirely compensate for a crap day filled with feeling old and useless, it does present the upside. And lo! SPY is still relevant.
posted by Cold Lurkey at 6:59 PM on February 16, 2011


Wow almost 20 years later and the SPY $39.99 sweatshirt still seems overpriced.
posted by geoff. at 7:01 PM on February 16, 2011 [3 favorites]


I found some old Spy magazines I'd stashed away when I moved a couple years ago and re-read some. Kind of amazing how relevant they still are 20+ years later, so many people they wrote about are still getting press.

Wasn't there a Separated At Birth book?
posted by cali at 7:01 PM on February 16, 2011


Wasn't there a Separated At Birth book?

There were at least two of them, she says while gazing upon them on her bookshelf. To this day I can never look at the Grinch without also thinking of Al Haig.
posted by scody at 7:06 PM on February 16, 2011 [5 favorites]


SPY, in its prime, was simply jam-packed with content. I've always been a fast reader, but it would take me a long time to go through a typical issue full of dense text right out to the margins.

Take a look at this issue as an example.

- Table of contents with extra illustrations, credits and commentary.
- Letters to the editor including an introduction by the staff and snarky responses for many letters.
- Opening essay, sometimes smartass, sometimes angry, often both.
- The HUGE Naked City section (13 pages in this issue): The Fine Print on the margins, The Usual Suspects, My Brilliant Career, Private Lives of Public Enemies, The Liz Smith Tote Board, the Date Book, The SPY List (this month's version is too damn easy), a few extra features that vary with each issue and that are often built around illustrated charts, Separated At Birth, The Times, and much more.

Even with ads, we are now at page FIFTY in the magazine. This content isn't free, it isn't scraped from blogs, and while the quality may vary, it's reasonably fresh and smart in just about every issue. They must have paid the writers with hamster pellets to get this much content in just the opening section of the magazine.

Onwards:
- Feature article on American woman in trouble in Milan. This includes both straight reporting and a typical SPY chart on playboys of the western world.
- Filofax madness. [I used to have a Filofax. Did you?] Much lighter material, basically a collection of charts, observations and even more marginalia about time management frenzy.
- Another chart-based article on New York smells.
- Another long feature article on Mensa.
- A feature article on the correspondence of Bobby Zarem [Who? I'm still not sure, but I read the whole thing anyway], including handwriting analysis.
- Back of the magazine section on writing, publishing and reviewing. Several shorter pieces totalling about 12 pages of fairly small print.
- Solution to the Un-British Crossword Puzzle, with, of course, extensive commentary.
- Two pages of party pictures, with commentary.
- New Improved New York: one page graphic feature.
- The Un-British Crossword Puzzle by Roy Blount Jr. (They may have paid him in guinea pig pellets).

We had attention spans back then. We gulped down a firehose of words and images with every issue. I am amazed the magazine lasted as long as it did.
posted by maudlin at 7:19 PM on February 16, 2011 [11 favorites]


I liked KGB a lot as well... wonder if I still have those old issues stashed away somewhere...
posted by ph00dz at 7:23 PM on February 16, 2011


Thick-fingered vulgarians! Huzzah!

Separated at Birth when it was an original idea.

I loved Spy. Subscribed for a long time. Whether a newstand had Spy was the measure of whether it was any good in the late 1980s.
posted by artlung at 7:28 PM on February 16, 2011


I was just thinking of Spy and another favorite Monk travel magazine.
posted by pianomover at 7:31 PM on February 16, 2011


The Seagal article sticks with me. Also one where they dressed someone up as a big chicken at a fast-food place in a mall; but I can't remember why it was so good. Now I can re-read, and this makes me happy.

Side-note: when they went under, they switched the subscription to 'Outside' magazine. I couldn't figure the demographic link, but during that period had Jon Krakauer's original peice which became 'Into Thin Air'. One of the best articles ever.
posted by dragonsi55 at 7:31 PM on February 16, 2011


> Semi-related: can you name the Fake Frenchman on the page nasreddin linked to?

Looks like Ernie Kovacs to me.
posted by George_Spiggott at 7:38 PM on February 16, 2011


Hard to believe that one of the guys who founded Spy is now doing this, this, and this.
posted by crunchland at 7:38 PM on February 16, 2011


It looks like I have to wait til next week to reread the issues containing the two short pieces that stuck with me for all these years (both, I believe, by Henry Alford): "What if the Bronte Sisters had been a heavy metal band" and "Four short film treatments on the subject of mimes."

Many a time I have thought to myself "1826: Emily rejects ritual indoctrination in the domestic arts; vows to create a 'towering wall of sound.'"
posted by Elsa at 7:45 PM on February 16, 2011 [3 favorites]


I was a little too young to actually read Spy when it was originally published (not to mention that my hometown grocery's newsstand didn't carry it, either), but I had both Separated At Birth books and also received the Spy page-a-day calendar one year for Christmas. I still remember their side-by-side comparison of David Lynch and David Byrne, as well as their listing for Paul McCartney's birthday. I will devour this.
posted by Strange Interlude at 7:54 PM on February 16, 2011


Gah! It's missing the July 1989 issue where they reverse engineer twinkies. It was disgusting and hilarious. Is there a mechanism to get notified when "new" ones come out?

I had a nearly full collection I sold via Usenet in 1998. Can't for the life of me remember how much money I took for them.

I feel twice as old, many of you are too young to have bought Spy, and some of you are probably too old to have sold anything via Usenet too.
posted by artlung at 8:01 PM on February 16, 2011


I figure I can stick my own remembrance down here. I was in college when Spy's first issue came out. Although, unlike many of my friends, I had little interest in heading toward New York for a job in finance, Spy described that mid-to-late-80s zeitgeist in a way that made even this English major understand what it was that pulled people from Chicago toward Wall Street. I savored every issue: wordplay and pranking and what seemed at the time like tremendous nerve...as Joe Beese says, Trump occupies a very different place in the cultural landscape now than he did 25 years ago, especially in New York City.

It reminded me of the uncounted hours I'd spent as a kid leafing through decades-old issues of Punch found in a used bookstore bin, trying to decipher in-jokes and language that made sense in a 19th or early 20th century London. To have a satirical magazine that reflected my current world was something unexpected. I'm grateful for the glory years of Spy, and glad it ended before it drifted into irrelevancy like Lampoon or MAD.

Next, Google needs to digitize Sassy (but only the good issues, up to but not including the point where it became Seventeen).
posted by catlet at 8:13 PM on February 16, 2011


The Irony issue with Chevy Chase on the cover is already live..

It was the first issue of Spy I bought and I ended up picking up every issue after, even when the reliablity was in decline. I just finished reading the Funny years, which made me regret throwing out all of my issues in a cleaning binge even more. Bits I read in Spy twntry years ago still pop in my head the way great songs do. Being able to read these again is fabulous news.
posted by Slack-a-gogo at 8:24 PM on February 16, 2011


Ah, the days when I could not wait for the next issue of a magazine...
posted by Alexandra Kitty at 8:27 PM on February 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


Late to the party, as usual, but man! do I remember Spy when I was a twenty-something PhD student in Montreal. O! memories!
posted by Turtles all the way down at 8:33 PM on February 16, 2011


What's still missing (from the good years):

- 1986: October
- 1987: Jan, March, April, May, July
- 1988: April, May, July, November
- 1989: Jan, March, May, June, July, August, September, October

And that "1990" issue with Trump on the cover is August 1990.
posted by maudlin at 8:43 PM on February 16, 2011


July 1989 issue where they reverse engineer twinkies.

I remember the vivid description of the suet the considered using (was it "adipose-streaked" or "blood-streaked?" I'll have to wait for Google.)

Apparently, others remember the suet too.
posted by zippy at 8:47 PM on February 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


Pre-internet snark. Good times.
posted by ZeusHumms at 8:48 PM on February 16, 2011


And, metafilter is now on the first page of results for short fingered vulgarian on Google
posted by zippy at 8:49 PM on February 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


This AskMe question can now be answered: the article is in the (not yet archived) May 1990 issue.

And by popular demand, from the July 1989 issue:
William Poundstone ... concludes that real Twinkie roe, as some call it, has no cream or whipped egg whites or egg yolks or butter or even margarine. Twinkies, Poundstone says, are filled with sugar and/or corn syrup, hydrogenated vegetable oil, lard, beef fat, skim milk, butter flavoring (which is used "to make beef suet taste like whipped cream straight from the can", lecithin and lots of air.

Into our food processor went everything on the list. The lard was pretty -- a soapy-white block of clarified hog fat. The suet, however, was horrifying -- a blood-streaked loaf of adipose cattle tissue that looked like it might be the waste from a liposuction clinic. To make it less scary, we asked our butcher to grind the suet into a wormy mound. We beat and whipped the whole mess for 15 minutes.

The sight of it made us gag. Our drugstore lecithin had turned the filling a grim beige. And we hadn't used enough artificial butter flavor to disguise the aroma of uncooked fat. The flavor was horrifically fleshy, such as only a cannibal could love, but with enough corn syrup sweetness to numb the tongue. Yes, here was a foodstuff truly capable of driving a man to murder, a foodstuff truly fit for sick elephants and hysterical baboons.

We didn't have more than a taste. Were we being too fussy? We imagined this homemade filling bleached white and deodorized by a mechanized corporate bakery; we closed our eyes and held our noses and touched it to our tongues, and sure enough, with our other senses fettered, it at least felt like what's inside a Twinkie. Nonetheless, we didn't bother to swallow it, or to inject it into snack cakes.
posted by maudlin at 9:02 PM on February 16, 2011 [3 favorites]


artlung: "I feel twice as old, many of you are too young to have bought Spy, and some of you are probably too old to have sold anything via Usenet too."

I bought Spy. And I bought something on Usenet, too, less than four years ago.
posted by Songdog at 9:04 PM on February 16, 2011


When is Google going to digitize MAD magazine? Or Omni.
posted by spock at 9:04 PM on February 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


As a college student in the Midwest Spy was an insight into an apparently very hip world that I wanted to be part of, or at least have a better understanding of. I read the magazine cover to cover as soon as it arrived, often rereading favorite pieces several times until the next issue arrived. But I probably reread the pieces that I didn't quite understand even more. I didn't get many of the insider references, especially the NYC gossip and the publishing industry stuff, but the bits in those pieces I did get were great, which made me want to understand even more of the jokes that much more.
posted by Slack-a-gogo at 9:09 PM on February 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


Or Omni.

OMNI! I was reading omni off the newstand every month in high school.
posted by L'Estrange Fruit at 9:19 PM on February 16, 2011


Didn't they stop publishing for a while, and then came back with a new owner?

Yeah, but it didn't last long. Tony Hendra (late of National Lampoon, and best known as manager Ian Faith in This Is Spinal Tap) wrote a long, self-congratulatory editorial about how Spy had Lost Its Way and he was going to make it great again. Needless to say, the Tony Hendra Era didn't last very long.

When Spy was on, it was really on, but it could occasionally come off as stupid and venal when it wasn't. They had an article on something--overrated things or television or some such--in which the writer sneeringly wondered why anyone ever made a big deal out of Twin Peaks, given that it was a show about a lady with a log. You'd have to be pretty stupid to think that; the show did have its problems (particularly near the end), but the show was never about the Log Lady, who appeared about three times during the entire run. They also did a stunt where they mailed checks from a fictitious company to various celebrities, in increasingly small amounts, to see if any of them would personally endorse a check for two cents. (Cher did, but I think that they tended to make fun of her anyway, so it was sort of wasted.) And there was plain ol' scandal-mongering, too, such as when they revealed some of Chuck Berry's more disgusting kinks, based on a nth-generation videotape that was leaked from evidence in his hidden-bathroom-cam prosecution.

But, of course, I read it anyway, almost right up to the end.
posted by Halloween Jack at 9:26 PM on February 16, 2011


They certainly didn't pull any punches in their Schwarzenegger piece.

plo chops for everybody!
posted by dhartung at 9:47 PM on February 16, 2011


You know in the 1980s I remember being aware of SPY Magazine. But I was uncertain as to what it was. Friends would mention it occasionally, but not close friends, only the people who were still engaged in the process of seeking, I don't know, the American dream. Squares. L-7. People I thought of at the time as naifs or losers. people I would now describe as cautious, or more charitably, as thoughtful.

When I would pick up an issue of the magazine and flip through it I would look for evidence of things that mattered to me. bands like big black. detailed coverage of America's deepening involvement in the development of dear squads and torture techniques in Central America. News about the depth of corruption tying large corporations to Republican elected officials. 

Surely some of that appeared in the publication. I certainly missed it. My overall impression was this: "lapdog." The magazine to me appeared to be intended to appeal to the character portrayed by Michael J Fox on "Family Ties," otherwise known as P. J. O'Rourke.

I have, it must be admitted, no actual knowledge if this impression was accurate. Picking up the magazine was enough to set my blood a-boil from sheer prejudice, and so I would fling it aside in favor of dusty unsold issues of "Ramparts," or imports of "MacLeans" or "trouser Press."

SPY Magazine appeared to me to be part of the problem. If I had two bucks I would spend it on Maximum Rock 'n Roll. I would spend it on Boing Boing. Eventually I would spend it on Wired.

Over time, I have become aware of the work of Anderson and the Sterns though other venues (NPR, duh, still not a firebrand media distribution network). In addition many fine leading theoreticians of humorist thought have cited the magazine as a wet spot. I mean a bright spot, sorry about that, the voice Rex on this phone is giving me the wet willy conniptions oh what does the et this I um oh geez
posted by mwhybark at 9:52 PM on February 16, 2011


Death squads, I mean. Stoopit voice rec.
posted by mwhybark at 9:53 PM on February 16, 2011


nubbins
posted by hortense at 9:56 PM on February 16, 2011 [2 favorites]


Oh, and I really am looking coward to seeing what I missed.
posted by mwhybark at 10:10 PM on February 16, 2011


Finally, I can forward the Admit It! Jazz Sucks link at will.
posted by benzenedream at 10:12 PM on February 16, 2011


Forward, not 'coward'! Damn you autocorrect!
posted by mwhybark at 10:20 PM on February 16, 2011


Fortunately, Private Eye is still going strong. Except for their Internet presence, which is very limited and fugly. But they've been doing Separated at Birth (I mean, Lookalikes) since long before Spy.
posted by chavenet at 10:50 PM on February 16, 2011 [2 favorites]


Too. Many. Memories.

But for now- the one where the woman samples different brands of dog food.
posted by ethnomethodologist at 10:55 PM on February 16, 2011


Can Google please digitize Sassy magazine? Just from 1988-1994 would be fine, please and thank you. I really need that recipe for cat burritos* that I remember from the back of an issue in like 1991 or something.

*burritos you and your cat could both eat, not burritos made of cat.
posted by palomar at 11:33 PM on February 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


In 1993 Spy had Camille Paglia write a love advice column. My roommate and I put together a letter, signed it "Mortified in Madison," and were thrilled to have it published. Of course, Spy cut it short and left out what we thought were the hilarious parts. Her reply neatly encapsulated all the reasons we couldn't stand Camille Paglia.
posted by hydrophonic at 11:49 PM on February 16, 2011


The greatest news this month. My all-time favorite magazine.
posted by jscott at 12:54 AM on February 17, 2011


Oh! Oh! While we're passing around best ofs, I remember reading Dead Right and wondering how the reporter, John Connolly, was still alive. If you ever paid any attention to "The Octopus", this is one of the classics.

There was an article on a restaurant host who had essentially been borrowing money from rich friends without ever paying them back, knowing he controlled all the elite-ness strings for the social group, that I thought was breathtaking. That issue is not up.
posted by jscott at 12:59 AM on February 17, 2011


Spectacular. I can now revisit one of my favorite comic sketches of all time: Cokie Roberts - Moderately Well Known Broadcast Journalist or Center of the Universe?
posted by bruceo at 1:11 AM on February 17, 2011


This is completely awesome and will finally make up for my unfilled subscription there at the end!
posted by Ron Thanagar at 4:00 AM on February 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


And, you can become a fan!
posted by Obscure Reference at 4:15 AM on February 17, 2011


Next, Google needs to digitize Sassy (but only the good issues, up to but not including the point where it became Seventeen).

PLEASE do this. I can't afford to buy issues from US eBay and, honestly, even as a 28yr old in 2011 it looks like pretty much the perfect women's magazine for me.

All I know of Spy is that Lovely Louis Theroux wrote for them, which was much better than the first job I did after my degree and probably didn't involve very much photocopying at all.
posted by mippy at 4:40 AM on February 17, 2011




This is fantastic.

How I've missed you, Celebrity Math!
posted by MsVader at 5:42 AM on February 17, 2011


I seem to remember they did a very nasty rip on Scientology that got Hubbard's sheep all worked up. I wonder if that will be digitalized.
posted by Ber at 5:44 AM on February 17, 2011


mwhybark, your impression was incorrect. Spy took on *many* political targets and their corruption. The Nov 1989 issue on Bohemian Grove is one I remember particularly as scathingly funny about the political class. Go ahead and search for the term "republican" or for that matter "democrat" -- I think had you taken more time with Spy you'd have found it afflicted the comfortable to your liking. How much it comforted the afflicted, I remember that less.

The Scientology issue seems to be the Jan/Feb 1996 issue.
posted by artlung at 5:57 AM on February 17, 2011


The first issue I looked at, June 1987, reminded me how much I loved Spy. That said, it was pretty funny to see their takedown of second-tier Saturday Night Live cast members for having no career prospects after SNL, including such no-talent losers as Julia Louis-Dreyfus.
posted by Daily Alice at 6:28 AM on February 17, 2011


Dammit, I have to work today.
posted by Mcable at 7:36 AM on February 17, 2011


OMG THEIR REALLY IS A XENU AND IT HAS HERD MY PRAIRS THANKS XENU
posted by Mister_A at 7:39 AM on February 17, 2011


I was a teenager recently moved to a small Maine town when I saw my first issue of Spy Magazine, so it portrayed a sliver of the world very far indeed from the sliver of world I inhabited, but a world that valued everything sly and wry. I subscribed immediately and kept my subscription through high school. Every month, that burst of tart snarkiness kept me from feeling like I'd been buried in my rural town. Once I moved to An Actual City, I let my subscription lapse.

I was also an aspiring writer, and their regular skewering of the publishing industry as a web of backscratchers and logrollers (even as they no doubt benefited from the system in which they were entrenched) was my very first hint that publishing was not strictly a meritocracy. That alone was helpful information.

And I still pine for Roy Blount, Jr.'s Unbritish Crossword Puzzle. I'd never heard of a double crostic before seeing his, and he ruined me for all the double crostics I would encounter in the years to come. Roy, thank you and curse you. I'm going to print out EVERY ONE of them and fill 'em out. In ink.
posted by Elsa at 8:12 AM on February 17, 2011


Drew Frieldman's illustration of Paul Simon encountering David Byrne in the jungle, both carrying tape recorders so perfectly encapsulated my feelings about both artists at the time, that I bought a subscription.

Oh Brainy Mefites, what am I to do with my collection in the basement now? This is the problem with living in the digital future, do I dump my fetishes and trust in almighty Google?
posted by djrock3k at 8:21 AM on February 17, 2011


Also, Hillary Clinton Bondage Cover. Always worth mentioning.
posted by djrock3k at 8:22 AM on February 17, 2011


My best friend in high school--the one that turned in to a social-climbing frat rat/lobbyist--introduced me to Spy. Loved it at the time and am still nostalgic about its run during the H.W. Bush years. On the other hand, its metamorphosis from witty snark rag to a chronicle of boorish ass-hattery neatly parallels my friend's slow embrace of dicktitude. Or maybe it was asshattery all the way down and I only grew out of it.

At any rate, I'd be reading this now if I wasn't already overslacking at work by commenting about wanting to read it.
posted by Fezboy! at 8:50 AM on February 17, 2011


This is awesome. I never subscribed to it -- instead I preferred to pick it up at my local bookstore, wander over to an ice cream eatery, and peruse the issue while enjoying my chocolate-and-peanut-butter treat. But for SPY, I would never have known who Swifty Lazar was...
posted by davidmsc at 8:55 AM on February 17, 2011


> do I dump my fetishes and trust in almighty Google?

No. Things have disappeared from Google Books and Google News in the past for whatever reason.
posted by user92371 at 8:59 AM on February 17, 2011


Scan them in and sell.
posted by mippy at 9:07 AM on February 17, 2011


I loved Separated at Birth, and I still get a flashbulb pop! in my imagination -- and a big, dumb grin -- when I suddenly connect two photos of disparate people in my mind.
posted by wenestvedt at 9:14 AM on February 17, 2011


Can Google please digitize Sassy magazine? Just from 1988-1994 would be fine, please and thank you.

I was not in Sassy's target demographic, but I did enjoy when Blair Magazine (SPEAKING OF late lamented cultural artifacts) published Sassy's alleged (and still-archived) lost issue, codenamed "Sissy."
posted by kittyprecious at 9:24 AM on February 17, 2011


Google has also lost / misplaced / broken the search index for its Usenet archive in the past.
posted by zippy at 9:53 AM on February 17, 2011


"Semi-related: can you name the Fake Frenchman on the page nasreddin linked to? I can, and it makes me sad."


I'm gonna go with Hank Azaria for a thousand, Alex.
posted by stenseng at 11:11 AM on February 17, 2011


Ten Years Ago in Spy is my fan page of yore, itself an extensive project.
posted by joeclark at 11:53 AM on February 17, 2011


There's a pretentious, ridiculous letter to the editor from me in the December 1993 issue, which was one of the most awesome things that had happened to date.
posted by kostia at 12:35 PM on February 17, 2011


Great. So I saved the entire run for nothing. Thanks. Thanks a lot.
posted by IndigoJones at 2:36 PM on February 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


Mr. Vengeance!

IndigoJones: I hear ya.

FezBoy: It was sold in 91 and basically sucked in comparison thereafter.
posted by rhizome at 3:12 PM on February 17, 2011


IndigoJones, I'm proud of you for saving the entire run.

I hope is that some small consolation
posted by artlung at 3:44 PM on February 17, 2011


I wish they'd bring back Wigwag.
posted by crunchland at 3:45 PM on February 17, 2011


OMNI! I was reading omni off the newstand every month in high school.

I had a subscription.

/shame
posted by Marla Singer at 4:56 PM on February 17, 2011


I was so into Omni, I bought issue #1 when it hit the stands. I probably heard about it in Starlog.

I now have the urge to read short fiction while lying on the bottom bunk bed which has been enclosed with a fold-out poster of the Battlestar Galactica.
posted by zippy at 11:27 PM on February 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


I still have my OMNIs, to which I started subscribing in the second year or so, sixth grade.
posted by rhizome at 9:36 PM on February 18, 2011


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