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Professional Opinions from the High and Mighty: Esquire Editor in Chief, David Granger

I have such a different view as I look out my window.  I’ve traded my Chicago highrise scene featuring a view of Lake Michigan to look out over a patio a few floors below, surrounded by brick buildings and some tall glass structure.   That’s right, I’m in NYC!  Which is great overall, the kicker – I’m in a dorm.  Talk about digressing, I’m back to having a roommate (like in my bedroom, not sharing an apartment with my best friends), no real dishes and one bathroom for four girls.  All for a worthwhile cause though, as I live through these small indignities for the greater good of publishing (presumptuous, maybe)!

David Granger, EsquireSo today was my first (12-hour) day as a student once again, and I admit to being pleasantly surprised.  Our first assignment was to read “Esquire” magazine and purvey the website in preparation for to hear David Granger, Editor-in-Chief, speak about the State of the Magazine.  After searching for Esquire in a Chicago CVS, again at two magazine gift shops in the airport, a newsstand in NYC and a Duane Reade (apparently the NYC version of CVS) I was frustrated and not at all dazzled with the availability of the title.  Luckily a roommate (one of three in my “suite”) had been able to purchase it, so I was prepared, if not impressed.

…Then Mr. David Granger started to speak.  On the 12th anniversary to the day of his position as EIC at Esquire, he shared with my fellow NYU peers and me his successes as well as the reality of the media business.   When he boarded the figurative ship that was Esquire in 1997, the brand was about to sink.  Under Granger’s leadership, he has led the magazine to multiple awards, accolades, and the most successful fundraiser in UNICEF’s history.

“After nine years {as EIC}, I was fed up with Esquire still just being a magazine.”  -David Granger

Instead of letting his magazine slide into stagnation, Granger pulled his team together and brainstormed, to figure out what they could change.  Instead of seeing print as an old/outdated medium, he views print as old because “it’s really fucking good.” Choosing to use the website as a vehicle to drive people to the print edition, Granger makes Esquire a wanted commodity through innovative designs (including a table of contents that turns a boring list into an art form), genius covers copied by many, and content he believes to be funny, passionate and inclusive.

Though he admits to despair and desperation as being his “friends” at the office, Granger sees massive opportunities in the media landscape, though with less money to spend.  Esquire celebrated its 75th anniversary last year, and I have the utmost confidence Granger will continue to take Esquire on its trajectory of success.  I’m going to help in my own way by (Dad, spoiler alert, getting my father a gift subscription for Father’s Day)  Similar to Obama, featured on two covers, Granger takes a “We Can” attitude to the future.

Insight from David Granger:

  • Cigarettes are the greatest prop in history
  • “Tap Project” is Esquire‘s greatest achievement
  • Men love sandwiches

Thank you, Mr. Granger, for taking time out of your obviously very busy and successful life (not to mention the day after bad sushi) to share your knowledge.

Also thanks to the panelists in the later panel on “Magazines as Brands: The New Reality”:

  • Cyndi Stivers, Editor, EW.com: Great moderator, innovative website with minimal costs
  • Liz Vaccariello, EIC, Prevention: Your case study on the “Flat Belly Diet” was interesting and an obvious success.  I wonder if everyone at Prevention is in such good shape!
  • Marvin Scott Jarrett, EIC, Nylon: Not a very energetic speaker and quite cocky, but forgivable since obviously so talented.  Started Nylon 10 years ago, and is now partnering with iconic brands like Apple and Nike.  Not exactly anti-society, but anti-convention.
  • Paul Maidment, EIC, Forbes: Loved the British accent and was pleasantly surprised by his ability to joke, though it was hard to understand him at times.  More dry content, but do understand that he knows his target well and Forbes makes them smarter and richer!
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As I finally got around to uploading photos from January to current on Facebook, I realized that 2009 has already been a year to remember (although I don’t look photogenic in any of the moments!).

Yes, it’s true I have joined the ranks of the unemployed, but I’ve also been motivated and inspired to follow my dreams of launching a career in book publishing, started this blog which has become quite an enjoyable hobby, begun to really appreciate Chicago and all it offers, been to my first Bulls game, Cocokey Resort with three of my best friends, had the #1 bracket in my pool as of NOW (sorry, MSU, I bet correctly that UNC would pull off the win), started a volunteer relationship with a worthwhile organization (<3 to you, Open Books), been blessed with a baby nephew, and been lucky enough to have the love, support and enjoyment of a wonderful family and system of friends.

Alright, fine, I may be a little tipsy from watching the pathetic game that MSU just played, but I am thankful for all this year has already brought (I cannot believe Easter is this Sunday – time has flown by) and all it promises in the future.  I hope you all enjoyed my Miller Lite induced ramblings (potentially found some inspiration yourself?), but hopefully this little nugget will serve as a reminder for the important things next time I get frustrated when job searching or waiting for spring to come to  Chicago.

Heading home on the train tomorrow, looking forward to some quality MI time with the family and good books, while curled up in my favorite chair!  Hopefully book reviews to come shortly… Hitting the “publish” button before I can overthink and delete this…

Obviously I love Chicago.  And while I can tout the benefits of this city I call Home all I want, it’s nice to have an objective source of authority on which to stand.

Although I rarely consider a group of men to be a source of authority beyond the stereotypical sports stats, Playboy models and occasionally mechanical parts, the AskMen.com Editorial Team really pulled through, ranking Chicago as the #1 City to Live in. This ranking is based on applying a statistical formula to eight lifestyle categories (listed in the picture below), then taking into account the intangible benefits offered.  Visit http://www.askmen.com/specials/2009_top_29/ for the complete listing of 29 great cities, or just read the Chicago article below:

Notice how we rank low on the $$ of beer - surprised?

Notice how we rank low on the $$ of beer - surprised?

Why you should live in Chicago

Fine culture and greasy food

As the largest city in the Midwest, Chicago strikes the perfect balance between cosmopolitan and comfortable, combining all of the culture, entertainment and sophistication of an internationally renowned destination with an affordable lifestyle and down-to-earth work hard/play hard character.

World-class cultural fixtures like the Art Institute, Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Chicago International Film Festival and a vibrant theater scene are complemented by popular festivals like Jazz Fest, Blues Fest and the recently revitalized Lollapalooza, Outdoor Film Festival, and Second City, which happens to be the source of 39% of the U.S.’s greatest comedians (a scientifically calculated fact!). Chicago possesses one of the world’s most vibrant, diverse and innovative restaurant scenes, from culinary luminaries like Charlie Trotter, Grant Achatz and Rick Bayless to an astounding variety of hole-in-the-wall neighborhood joints to Chicago’s signature greasy trinity of deep dish pizza, Italian beef and Chicago-style hot dogs.

A hardcore sports town, Chicago covers all of the professional leagues (some twice) with teams that actually have history, both famous and infamous. And while the winters are rough, Chicagoans make the most of the warmer months, taking their love of sports to the beaches, courts, paths, and parks of Chicago’s beautiful lakefront, set aside as public land for the entire city’s enjoyment.

Why you should live in Chicago in 2009

Lollapalooza, the Hawks and the Cubs

This year, Chicago is a city abuzz. The International Olympic Committee announces the 2016 host city this October, and Chicago’s glitterati and power brokers are schmoozing it up as they create numerous support committees in the hopes that Chicago is selected. Lollapalooza is already a music fan’s Mecca, and with Jane’s Addiction now back together, where better to catch Perry Farrell this year than headlining his own festival?

On the cultural front, the new modern wing of the Art Institute of Chicago will be opening in May, and history buffs living in the Land of Lincoln will be busy checking out the numerous exhibitions celebrating his bicentennial. Chicago is always fertile ground for political junkies, but Obama’s election paired with the Blagojevich and Burris fiascoes have turned an always entertaining political scene into a full-blown three ring circus that even those who aren’t armchair pundits will find fascinating.

After years in the standing’s wilderness, the Blackhawks — one of the original six teams in the NHL — are once again a force to be reckoned with. Meanwhile, the Cubs are projected by most to be tops in the National League, and a World Series victory would set off a citywide party of the century — literally.

Read more about Chicago

By Dominic Armato

One of the joys of not being employed full-time is the freedom I have with my days… Sunday, Monday, Thursday – they tend to be more open for me (of course I have my” blogations”, the news, keeping up on the latest trends, yoga…), and this freedom is really convenient in the event of a monumental event, like the birth of my new baby nephew, Alton Isaac! So, blessed that I am, I was able to travel a couple states away to meet the little critter yesterday.

That little set up is just to give you some perspective on my emotional state when I read the book I’m about to review (not just for you all to congratulate me on being an AUNT!), but I think I was feeling a little less stoic than usual.

Since Randy Pausch delivered his “Last Lecture” presentation on September

The Pausch family

The Pausch family

18, 2007 at Carnegie Mellon, his advice and adages have swept the media, leading to a best-selling book.  Presented after being diagnosed with terminal pancreatic cancer, his focus is on “Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams.”

First off, I am very impressed that he really did achieve his childhood dreams – from the Nasa-esque “zero gravity” to working for Disney.  It’s hard for me to even remember what I used to “dream”, other than living in a big city so I guess at least I accomplished something (along with the other 9.5MM people so I guess I’m not all that special).  Regardless, in this book of advice on how to lead my life, the things that hit home with me were the more family-oriented musings, from winning the “parent lottery” (I completely relate to this one, as Pausch says, “I already had this incredible leg up in life because I had a mother and father who got so many things right.”) to his worry of how to convey his love to his young children after his death.

I found this book interesting, but wasn’t nearly as enamored with the message as I had planned to be.  I harbor no doubts that Randy Pausch was a good man and a beloved husband and father (and teared up many times, but please refer back to paragraph 1 on my emotional state!), but I don’t think his advice was ground-breaking and doubt the impact would have been nearly the same had he not been terminally ill.  He seemed a little full of himself (to be fair, he does acknowledge he tends to be a know-it-all), and mentions his salary more than I thought was appropriate, but he also seemed like an optimistic, friendly guy who was making the most of an awful death sentence.

Read this if: You’re in the “family” sort of mood, and are looking for a reminder to appreciate the people who love you and you love in return, and the time you have together.

Avoid this if: You have no interest in yet another “life lesson” book.  In my opinion, “The Little Prince” is much more valuable.the-last-lecture2

  • Title: The Last Lecture
  • Author: Randy Pausch
  • Publisher: Hyperion
  • NovelWhore’s Grade: B-

RIP Randy Pausch, July 25, 2008

I’ve always been a huge proponent of library-going (books are like a drug to me, and I can’t afford to keep myself in the “habit”, thus my worn library card) and have noticed my queue of books on hold have been taking longer to get to me than in the past. This interesting article “Hard economic times a boon for libraries” I came across on CNN this morning may explain why.

Yet another sign of our tough economic times is coming through in the resurgence of library popularity.  I bet you may be just as tired of hearing about our dismal economy as I am, but I actually found this article to be focusing on a more positive note – that people are being resourceful and utilizing the tools and services available.  I advise each of you to take a look at your local library and see what services they offer that can save you money – from internet to DVD rentals and even reading groups for children, all at no cost to you.

The full article can be found at this link: http://www.cnn.com/2009/US/02/28/recession.libraries/index.html

Chicago Public Library information available here: http://www.chipublib.org/

Don’t get excited now, no, this is not a tell-all admission of my love life (trust me, that would be really boring to read) but a glowing recommendation of Chelsea Handler’s over-active sex drive in her memoir “My Horizontal Life –  A Collection of One-Night Stands.”

I abhor the term LOL, it’s out of style right?  But, it’s totally appropriate as I describe what I was doing while reading this.  Outrageous, hilarious and

Disclaimer: Not the midget she discussed in the book!

Disclaimer: Not the midget she discussed in the book!

totally entertaining, this book makes me giggle even as I think of it.

“My Vagina clammed up.  I was scared for me and my little beaver’s life.  I just hoped we would make it out of this okay.”

That’s a legitimate quote, and the fact that it’s referring to the, ah, genitalia of a male midget makes it even more humorous. While I don’t wish to live her life, I have no qualms about living vicariously through her stories, liberally soaked in alcohol, inappropriate situations and objectionable (often offensive) morals.

Of course you have to hope Handler is exaggerating as she describes her exploits, and it’s even rather sad at times as you wonder what actually is meaningful in her life… But get off that high-horse and just enjoy the ride!

Read this if: You’re open-minded, enjoy racy humor, aren’t offended by blatant smuttiness and alcohol-motivated decisions and aren’t embarrassed to laugh out loud while reading by yourself.

Avoid this is: You’re no fun, bland, easily offendable and can only think of sex as a sacred act no matter who is engaging in it.

  • Title: My Horizontal Life
  • Author: Chelsea Handler
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury
  • NovelWhore’s Grade: A  (first blogging “A”!!!)

Thoughts, insights, experiences to share?

I’ve researched the Random House Associates Program and am quite interested (as in obsessed) in the opportunity, though I would like to hear more about it first-hand.

Random House in NYC

Random House in NYC

I think it is geared towards graduating college students, whereas I already have about two years of solid agency experience and wonder if it would be a waste of time when I feel as if I have the ability to jump right in to a full-time position? But it’s Random House, and as the largest general trade publisher in the WORLD it might be worth it!?!

A second worry is with the way this economy is going there is even a smaller likelihood that a full-time job would be available at the end of the program in July 2010… I need help!

If you have any experience with the Associates Program, or Random House in general please please contact me – novelwhore@gmail.com.  THANKS!

Book vs. Movie

By now, who isn’t familiar with this term?  If you haven’t read the book, at the very least you’ve seen the trailers for the movie, currently in theaters, featuring a multitude of celebrities: Jennifer Aniston, Ben Affleck, Scarlett Johansson, Justin Long, Drew Barrymore, Ginnifer Goodwin, Jennifer Connelly and Kevin Connolly make up the all-star cast

I’m sure authors Greg Behrendt and Liz Tuccillo (both contributing writershjntiy-book to the smash success “Sex & the City) had no idea the effect their book, aka “The No-Excuses Truth to Understanding Guys,” would have on the world.  I remember first reading “He’s Just Not That Into You” (HJNTIY) back when it came out in 2004 and was on it’s way to becoming some sort of a classic.  I was a naive and somewhat innocent college sophomore, and thought that the book was a more amusing and informational form of the Bible.

Though my Advanced Composition teacher ended up stealing the book (Ms. Laura Elizabeth, you disappeared with my “Bible” and my portfolio!) I still have quite a vivid recollection of the empowerment I felt upon completion.  Although I’ve never found myself in a terribly unhealthy relationship (some are less happy to remember than others…), I have definitely been blind to the reality of any given situation.  Told with humorous examples, comedic banter and the ability to make you smile through your tears of humiliation (you wonder how you missed that obvious hint!), the book is a feel-good tool to encourage every woman to go out there and find the relationship she deserves, not just one she’s stuck with.

Since I really did enjoy the book, appreciate the message and was able to occasionally relate to the situations with self-deprecating laughter, I had high expectations for the movie.

Let me admit, I am not a movie person.  I am terrible at sitting still, rarely captivated by what is happening on screen and I don’t even like popcorn (though I looooove the icees at theaters!).  I think books are a much more effective and enjoyable way to portray a story, although a movie is much less effort.  Anyways, I was prepared to really enjoy HJNTIY, as it had been receiving mostly rave reviews.

hesjustnotthatintoyou_000My movie partner was a guy I’m casually seeing, and he only went to the movie since he lost a bet (lesson to be learned, never bet me on random historical facts!).  He complained about going, but I think ended up liking it and laughing more than me.  It was your stereotypical romantic comedy with a little bit more humor, I didn’t think it had nearly the powerful and positive message that the book shared with it’s audience.  The movie poses the question:

“are you the exception… or are you the rule?”

The movie follows different characters through life in Maryland (totally random, right?), and it’s almost one of those six-degrees of separation examples, how everyone is inextricably linked without knowing.  It’s interesting to see how all the lives tie together, but painful at times to watch as Gigi (Goodwin) is pathetically desperate to date someone, anyone, or as Janine’s (Connelly) husband enters into an affair.

It wasn’t a bad movie, but I did leave feeling as if something were missing.  Oh, right, it’s the idea that things don’t always turn out as you planned, and the guy doesn’t always realize that you’re the greatest woman in the world for him (though I’m sure you are), and that sometimes, relationships are disappointing and people aren’t meant to be together and it doesn’t work out (and I swear I’m not even bitter or cynical!). I guess one marriage does dissolve through the course of the movie, but in the current state where affairs and divorces are commonplace, it would be almost more satisfying (less stereotypical, at least) had the woman been responsible, or at minimum, in control, of the relationship!  I definitely think the uplifting lesson conveyed in the book is somehow lost with the on-screen adaptation.

Read the book if: You need motivation, inspiration, or optimism in your relationship or life in general.  Pass the book to a friend if you can see they’re stuck in a dead end relationship and a third-party unbiased source yelling at them could help realization dawn.

Avoid the book if: You like losers, and accept you’re stuck with them.  No no kidding, read the book.

Watch the movie if: You like happy endings, stereotypical romantic comedies, pathetic women, cheating men, and some laughter along the way.  Though I suggest you wait until it comes out on DVD and make a wine night out of it, much better use of $$$$.

Avoid the movie if: You’re looking for a movie with a lasting impact.

  • Title: He’s Just Not That Into You
  • Author(s): Greg Behrendt & Liz Tuccillo
  • Publisher: Simon Spotlight Entertainment
  • NovelWhore’s Grade (Book): A-
  • NovelWhore’s Grade (Movie): C+

**As usual, the book is much better than the movie!

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