Fare Thee Well, Gentle Might
Publishing circles are abuzz over the newest press release from Might magazine, co-edited since its inception by Smarter Feller! comic artist Dave Eggers. In a jokey yet oddly serious missive titled "God to Might Magazine: 'Raise $1.4 Million, or I Will Call You Home,' " staffers of the 4-year-old San Francisco publication report they were approached by God while on a group retreat and given an ultimatum -- either secure investment capital within 33 days, or watch as the Almighty pulls the plug.
Pulling the plug on Might would mean yet another first-rate magazine disappearing from the newsstands, cursed for being humorous and reader-friendly in the fickle world of consumer-oriented publishing, where humor and reader-friendliness most often are the last attributes to gain consideration. In only a few years, Might has achieved some success -- a steady advertising base, 40,000 circulation, two book offshoots, and legions of fans and fawning critics. Among the magazine's smart, memorable contributions have been a recurring fictitious table of contents, a page of one-sentence record reviews, a standing offer to provide journalists with snappy quotes for any article about Generation X, and an unforgettable hoax cover story ("Fare Thee Well, Gentle Friend") on the supposed death of child actor Adam Rich.
But this newest edition will undoubtedly be its last. When an investment deal fell through as the issue was in production, Eggers and the rest of the staff knew the game was over. They began inserting deliberately somber death messages into each department of the magazine not yet sent to the printer. Consequently, there's a note in the Table of Contents referring to Pages 68-76 that says, "Some other stuff, as if it matters now." The subscription offers say, "Discontinued." On a page advertising T-shirts and back issues, there is this message: "You = Might. Why buy a dumb T-shirt or a sticker when you could own the whole goddamn magazine?"
The shutdown was not unexpected. At some point in publishing a magazine, a financial ceiling appears; if expansion seems out of reach, an editor often puts the pedal to the metal and cranks the operation up to top speed until it blows.
"I ran that thing into the ground on purpose," says Eggers. "It can go one of two ways. Are you going to put the formula together? Or are you just going to do whatever the fuck you want to do?"
There is talk of doing one issue a year, or perhaps an on-line version, but new faces will be necessary if Might is to continue in any form. Some staffers have already received job offers. Co-Editor Dave Moodie has been hired as features editor for the newly reconstituted Spin. Senior Editor Zev Borow is also moving to New York. It appears to be the end of an era. Fortunately, Might fans can take solace in the group's final collaboration, a book of essays due next March and titled Shiny Adidas Track Suits and the Death of Camp.
The New Gods
The new issue of XLR8R magazine, published from the Upper Haight and available free in local clubs, contains some of the sharper visuals/insights into the current international rave culture. Among them, the Letterman-esque list called "Ten Really Annoying Things About DJ Superstars":
1) No one tells them they played like crap
2) They have publicists
3) They take credit for other people's records
4) They get paid too much
5) They are bad role models for younger DJs
6) They fly first class
7) They attract trainspotters
8) They believe their own publicity
9) They encourage lame celebrity DJs
10) We say we like them ... even when we don't
Home Sweet Home
Who knows the exact origins of an e-mail currently circulating through San Francisco's cyberchannels, titled "from the vaults outside of seattle"? The message is supposedly a list of comments from Seattle building officials who recently toured the nearly completed home of Bill and Melinda Gates, and who suffered "sensory overload" shortly after the three-hour tour started. The Microsoft magnate's house is being constructed on 600 acres outside Seattle and reportedly will cost more than $50 million. Below are some of the alleged comments:
* No visible electrical outlets anywhere. Gates does not like "clutter."
* 112 steps from the main floor to the main entry (or take the elevator).
* Wood columns from main floor to roof in entry area are over 70 feet tall.
* Theme throughout main floor is "High Tech Lodge." Primary structure is all exposed similar to large logs in a lodge except the logs are PERFECTLY finished.
* All timbers used inside and out are finished the same -- 3 inches have been removed from the exterior of the wood and then sanded to a satin finish.
* All bolts throughout the house are stainless steel and oriented the same direction.
* All woodwork is flawless. Much of the woodwork is of various rare species from all over the world -- imported especially for the Gateses.
* Some of the interior passage doors weigh over 800 lbs, but are balanced for easy use.
* Floor is heated everywhere including the driveway and walks.
* Security system (automated and personnel) is redundant. Hidden cameras everywhere including interior stone walls. Sensors in the floor can track a person to within 6 inches. System is monitored at the Microsoft campus.
* Gates has a personal 4-car garage. House for the maintenance staff has its own 3-car garage. Nanny parks in the 6-car carport across from the main entry. An additional 10 cars can be parked in a subterranean arched concrete building which through an electronic transformation becomes a basketball court.
* Existing cedar tree was determined by Gates to be in the wrong location and moved 6 inches.
* Gates insisted on saving a 140-year-old maple adjacent to the driveway. The tree is monitored electronically 24 hours per day via computer. If it seems dry, it gets just the right amount of water automatically delivered.
* Reinforcing steel in all concrete is four times the code minimum. No. 18 steel wrapped with no. 5 ties was common for simple columns.
* 52 miles of communication cable in the building.
* Shower curtain next to the spa is a 4500 lb. slab of granite.
* Master bathtub can be filled to the right temperature and depth by Gates as he drives home from work.
* Only two guest bedrooms.
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