Sunday, March 11, 2007

Does this post smell funny?

Nobody has ever accused me of being the world's most charitable person. The phrase "doesn't suffer fools gladly" has been used. Not without justification - I definitely belong on the "if you don't have anything good to say about somebody, come sit next to me" bench.

I do, however, try. Every year I resolve to be a little kinder, to aim for a mellower reaction to life's inanities, to live and let live. In a good year, I can generally keep it up until February at least. But, invariably, sooner or later, a target presents itself to which the only possible reaction is mockery and ridicule.

Today's New York Times provides an irresistible target. Included as lagniappe with the main paper is the noxiously-scented "Men's Fashion Spring 2007" section. As always, I am deeply ambivalent about the men's fashion supplement. Its evils are manifold and obvious:
  • it stinks (quite literally, the result of a particularly foul-smelling fragrance insert)
  • it is packed throughout with idiotic ads peddling the false promise of retail therapy
  • text and images are fatuous beyond belief.

Redeeming social value? Zilch! But the eye candy sure is hard to beat, whether it's the smoldering eroticism of those sulky Herb Ritts boys, or the sultry Richard Gere collage towards the end of the magazine.

Now, I recognize that admitting to a state of drooling concupiscence induced by the parade of boytoys on display pretty much invalidates any righteous indignation I might be tempted to express in response to the magazine overall. No fair to mock the prose while leering at the pictures, however tempting:

Is the future as yellow as a newborn chick? Or does it come in space-age silver?

Or to take issue with the taste level of a photo-spread where the model is decked out to look like a homeless person in assorted $1,000-4,000 outfits. Nope. Not mocking that either.

But then - right there on page 102 - it's the latest episode of "Whiff Notes", by Chandler Burr. Something to which the only conceivable response is ridicule. Leavened with a touch of rue, that the newspaper of record has apparently come to this.

Based on a perfunctory google search, Chandler Burr appears to be a really smart science writer and journalist, the author of two well-reviewed books, one on possible biological origins and explanations of homosexuality, the other on scientific efforts to decode the sense of smell. I've heard one radio interview with the guy, and he came across as both articulate and intelligent.

So it's a bit of a disconnect to realize that, since August 2006, he has also been the official perfume critic for the New York Times.
Leading to columns such as today's

Whiff Notes

Or crimes against the language like this : Perfume Satire

If he's able to convince people to pay him to write this kind of stuff, I'd say Chandler's got a pretty good thing going on.

If you found the experience of reading this post similar to opening a perfect, linear, quietly masculine, masterfully constructed sock drawer, please be sure to check back for further updates. Quietly masculine, masterfully constructed prose, with the underlying steely tension of a cheetah, poised for the kill, is what this blog is all about.

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