06.08.06
Lawrence Weschler | Essays

Koppel to Cooper: Cool, Cooler, Cold


McSweeney's, Number 5, 2000; and Vanity Fair, June 2006.

Back in the summer of 2000, when they were getting set to launch their fifth issue, the gentle hapless crew over at McSweeney's figured that maybe the problem was that they just hadn't been being hip enough with their earlier covers. They studied the competition — places like Esquire and Vanity Fair and the like, and figured, Hey, maybe that's the ticket: Put some bigtime sexy celebrity on the cover, somebody huge and charismatic and irresistible, somebody like, you know...Ted Koppel! They weren't being entirely cynical. I mean, the issue did include a conversation with Koppel (Sarah Vowell, as a matter of fact, discussing with him his lifelong passion for Marcus Aurelius). But putting Koppel on the cover like that was surely meant as a kind of gently joshing joke, as much at their own expense as anything else, a flagrant exhibition of their own mainstream cultural cluelessness.

What then to make of this month's cover of the actual Vanity Fair? The fact that the editors there, in offering Anderson Cooper up as the studmuffin du mois, apparently intend no joke of any kind may in fact be an occasion for some serious concern.

Lawrence Weschler is the author of Mr. Wilson's Cabinet of Wonder and Everything That Rises: A Book of Convergences. He is also the curator of the Convergences contest currently transpiring at McSweeneys.net.



Posted in: Culture, Magazines


Comments [23]

Let me try to clear things up for you: Koppel has bad hair and ugly eyes, so its funny. Cooper has perfect hair and sexy bedroom eyes, so it will sell a few more copies than your next issue of McSweeny's.
Dani
06.08.06
12:35

And he is, of course, the son of famous heiress and fashion designer Gloria Vanderbilt.
ehtnax
06.08.06
12:51

I'll take Anderson Cooper over recent VF covergirls Paris Hilton and Linsday Lohan anyday.
Kate
06.08.06
01:15

Engaging youth via his "360" news show is worthy of some cover time. What's scarier are the secondary article subjects "The Dick Cheney we don't know" and "Nicole Richie."
Nick
06.08.06
01:57


"I'll take Anderson Cooper." — Kate

Hilarious. Er, no you won't, Kate! He plays on ball in Chelsea if you know what I mean.
felix sockwell
06.08.06
02:28

What is the point of this post?

That magazines sometimes put celebrities and newspeople on their covers? And, that sometimes they use a photo that makes the person look good?

Why would putting a seasoned and trusted newsman on the fron of a magazine be considered a "gently goshing joke"?
Could it be possible that McSweeney's just thought that Koppel was a good subject? Why does this make them clueless?

Time Magazine putting Ann Coulter on their cover was clueless.

Chris Murphy
06.08.06
09:00

He is *like* my hero.
logtar
06.09.06
09:21

"The fact that the editors there, in offering Anderson Cooper up as the studmuffin du mois, apparently intend no joke of any kind may in fact be an occasion for some serious concern."

Concern for what, may I ask? Really, we'd like to know; or is this something we are meant to stroke our proverbial beards over? I almost feel like the 'Continue Reading' link was mistakenly omitted.

Or is it more likely that this otherwise pointless post is meant to generate interest in McSweeneys convergences contest?
Sam Sullivan
06.09.06
10:05

I don't mean to pile on here, but I had the very same reaction as Chris and Sam: Where is the rest of the essay? As it stands, it does read like a blatant tie-in with McSweeney's. And it sort of back-fires, doesn't it? I mean, if this is what qualifies as a "convergence", I can't say it makes me remotely interested in Weschler's new book, and this is coming from a fan of "Boggs" and "Cabinet of Wonder".
Mark Melnick
06.09.06
11:22

I don't get what's such a concern, or why it would be strange...my roommate salivates over Anderson Cooper constantly. I think he's the reason she's addicted to CNN now. He seems pretty fitting on the cover of Vanity Fair.
Jaclyn
06.09.06
04:55

What does "play on ball in Chelsea" mean?

Does he play cricket?
Joe Moran
06.09.06
05:23

I'd like to hear what people in the magazine industry have to say.

Also, is this a plug for McSweeneys or an article to stir intellectual conversation?

And Joe, please tell me you're kidding.
Feldhouse
06.09.06
06:02

Arthur Godfrey, where are you?
Ben E.
06.09.06
09:22

...this is one of the weirdest post I've read on Design Observer - what was the point? It definitely reads as if something's missing - otherwise, who cares...

BTW (to Joe M. - Felix S. is insinuating that Mr. Cooper is gay)
Steve Jones
06.10.06
03:04

Arthur Godfrey, where are you?
RogT
06.10.06
05:27

Arthur Godfrey, where are you?
TomB
06.10.06
08:23

meant plays ball in Chelsea. Sorry.
The Chelsea

Source: 2 friends who are CNN producers
felix sockwell
06.10.06
08:35

Not that there's anything wrong with that.
Joe Moran
06.10.06
09:45

He seems to be feigning concern and seriousness a lot lately (like on Oprah). That look borders on comedy. At least it's not as annoying as Donny Deutch's constant holding of his eyeglasses in an attempt to appear intelligent.
SBG
06.11.06
02:25

I really should be paying attention to the Netherlands play Serbia & Montenegro play in their first Group C game in the World Cup right now, but this post and the comments are so astonishingly poor that I can't help but notice. So, is this the new direction for Design Observer? New design, crappy posts and even crappier comments? Sweet.

OK, half time is over, back to the game.
Patrick
06.11.06
12:55

Patrick from Meta Design in Frisco:

Are you trying to be clever? I don't think it worked. Keep watching the cup, boy.
Joe Moran
06.11.06
07:22

I'd like to hear what people in the magazine industry have to say.

You just did! ;)
Jaclyn
06.12.06
05:44

> Cooper has perfect hair and sexy bedroom eyes...

> And he is, of course, the son of famous heiress and fashion designer Gloria Vanderbilt.

Those bedroom eyes have been in front of the camera since a very young age. Notably, that of one Diane Arbus (trying to prove she could take photos of the beautiful people, too).
Dan
06.14.06
02:54



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