New new Playboy: An analysis

There was a much bigger splash last winter when Playboy announced it would no longer show nude pictorials in its magazine than when it reversed that decision last month.

Hefner’s had marriages that lasted longer than this.

With its March/April 2017 issue, on newsstands now, Playboy has gone back to its roots, the non-nude experiment having lasted exactly one year.

A sigh of relief should be our expected response, no? An April Fool’s joke revealed and survived? Was it all just a publicity stunt? Or did the bean counters who seem to run the enterprise now really think it would be a good idea and then reverse course when the new beans were counted?

There are several changes in the current issue one might discover on a second or third reading beyond who’s covering what parts of whose body. I mentioned last week that I’m in the issue and in fact I am, not naked but among the letter writers in the opinion section. There has been a dearth of letters to the editor in recent issues and I’m happy to see this section has been expanded.

Of course I appreciated seeing my own name in this month’s pages. But mine wasn’t the name featured most prominently. That distinction belongs to a certain Mr. Hefner, not Hugh but his youngest son Cooper, 25 years old but now the number two man listed on the masthead, just under his dad’s. His title is “Chief Creative Officer,” whatever that means (read: my daddy started the company), a pretty good promotion from two-thirds of the way down the page last month. Cooper’s got a friendly from-the-publisher-type piece in the issue’s early pages, introducing himself (as though we didn’t know) and his “Playboy philosophy.” Honestly, it reads like a bad op-ed in a college newspaper, but at least he seems to be on the right side of freedom. There are the usual jabs at so-called oppression from today’s political types, and the modern obsession with proving one’s goodness by proclaiming a tolerance to gay marriage (the most pressing issue on Earth, if you haven’t heard). Elder Hefner’s original “Playboy Philosophy” reads more like Ayn Rand than anything else, though for 60 years Playboy has been nominally laughing at the political right. Obviously it’s too early to tell exactly how Playboy will treat the current administration, though I fear it will miss a golden opportunity by siding more with Hollywood and the mainstream media than with the libertarian millennial it professes to court.

I look forward to reading (yes, reading) this new new era of Playboy. It really does look different compared to the past year. They’ve reintroduced content staples such as the “World of Playboy” and the “Playboy Advisor,” and have returned to the scrapbook format that differentiated it from the slick-look magazines it seemed to mimic the past 12 months. (They also stopped that stupid James Franco feature.) The jokes are back, and the one-page “playback” is now an entire section called “Heritage,” highlighting the magazine’s history, the very idea I think should be promoted while concurrently looking to the future. I like that they stuck with the new paper size, a little wider that the issues prior to 2016, and the quality of the paper has improved as well. The only thing I really find disappointing, other than the out-of-place ad and coupons for Harbor Freight Tools (who let that one slip through?) is the quality of the pictures. Yes, the photographs are in fact worse even though, yes, one does now get to see boobs. (This is 2017… they’re not that hard to find.) It seems as though the photographers were trying harder when they were more restricted, and the photos of the past year, most of which had a sort of vintage tint or filter to them, really looked better. Current editors can learn something from that strange year of modesty.

And when they finally get around to including my picture in the mag as opposed to just my name, I’ll insist upon the greatest of care.

Some days it’s always 2006

On this day 11 years ago I was on a 17-hour bus ride home to say goodbye to my best friend for all eternity, Joe Sullivan.

It was a Friday that day too, probably the worst Friday I’ve ever had.

As I’ve said before, I don’t think about Joe every day… I think about him every 15 minutes, and more on days like this. I can’t even begin to imagine what his life would be like or my life would be like if he were still around. Too sad to even think about.

That’s pretty much it.

Look who’s back!

The March/April 2017 edition of Playboy has hit newsstands, and after a full year of showing no nude photographs Playboy has returned flesh to its pages. They’ve also revamped the magazine for the second time in a year, ushering in a new new era with this month’s issue.

I’m in it too.

And, no, I’m not naked.

A full review next week.

There’s no place like home

My local community center got a little ink over the weekend following a “meeting” held there this past Friday night. The gathering was a sort of town hall event, though the guest of honor did not show. No, not the President, but rather one of the congressmembers elected from his party despite his raging unpopularity. (Hehe.)

Representative Barbara Comstock (“R”-Virginia), my elected representative in Congress, is far from my favorite legislator, but I think she’s 100% right on this issue. She’s within her rights to stay home, and I advise other GOP lawmakers to do the same. It’s a neat little trick that’s being played out in community centers around the country these days: angry citizens, upset with Trump or the world or their own miserable lives, call together a “town hall meeting” or some such thing and “invite” a dignitary or two, then flop in incredulity when such dignitaries do not show.

When the KKK invites Barack Obama to its Grand Wizard powwow, are we surprised when he doesn’t go? It’s a trick, and I think the same principle applies here. (I’m just thinking now of the government software program that is reading Obama and KKK in the same sentence and is red-flagging this blog.)

Dear Republican legislators, whether you favor the President or not: When you’re “invited” to a town hall meeting that sounds a little like a suicide mission…

Stay home.

Magic trick

Basketball legend and current President of Basketball Operations for the Los Angeles Lakers Magic Johnson has come under criticism the past 48 hours for selecting Rob Pelinka as the Lakers’ new general manager. Pelinka, you see, is white, one of now a sea of white GMs in a sport dominated mostly by athletes of color.

(Pause for effect.)

Magic has been criticized.

(Pause.)

Magic, for those of you who have been hiding under a rock since 1979, is himself of color.

(Pause.)

That’s all.

This has got to be a joke

A page-two article in the “Business” section of my local paper (that’s The Washington Post) is headlined “The working-class job that Trump could actually save.” There are about 100 reasons why I knew from the word go this piece would be ridiculous, a list at the top of which I’d find don’t take advice from The Washington Post.

The “working-class” job in question is—wait for it—cashiers, the second-largest occupation in the country according to government types who are paid to keep track of those things. The article’s author, a Mr. Allan Sloan, says that “supporting [editor’s note: I’m reaching for my wallet here] the nation’s 3.5 million cashiers could help preserve the livelihoods of hundreds of thousands of low-paid people…”

And it can be done “at minimal (or perhaps no) cost to consumers!”

(Exclamation added. Sentence, sadly, all too real.)

The author’s evidence?

Mandated gas station attendants in New Jersey.

I swear to Jeebus.

In 1949 the State of New Jersey banned consumer-operated gasoline pumps, among other things enshrining the employment of gas station attendants all over the state. At no cost to the taxpayers! One-eyed economists everywhere have been smiling for nearly seven decades.

Mr. Sloan writes that the number of cashier jobs in the United States was the same in 2015 (the most recent year for which such numbers are available) as it was in 2005. Ten years of no growth in the cashier industry even though the U.S. population has increased by 7.6 million!

Those cashier jobs have obviously been exported to China, no?

Of course it is automation that has rendered some cashier jobs unnecessary. Ex-cashiers can say hello to bank tellers, buggy whip makers, and Blockbuster Video employees. Personally I think that self-checkout lines are the greatest thing since pump-your-own gas devices, but that’s me. Or rather, it’s all of us. Think about it. If those things weren’t being used, they wouldn’t be there. If customers still wanted a guy to pump their gas (paying a little more to do so), they’d be there too. The answer to this question always involves a mirror.

Mr. Sloan’s advice to President Trump? He can “do a lot of good for cashiers and himself by publicly leaning on retail chains to preserve those jobs or even add to them.”

I think just outlawing new technology would be a lot simpler. And in the words of Mr. Sloan… “We’d all win.”

Because going around like 19th century Luddites breaking all those self-check machines would just be silly.

NBA All-Stars put on a show

You’ve gotta love a game in which the losing team scores 182 points, and the winning team scores 192 without seeming to break a sweat. Such was the theatre last night in New Orleans, where Mardi Gras came early for All-Stars East and West. Special kudos to homeboy Anthony Davis, who scored an incredible 52 points, including 36 on dunks alone. The previous record for points scored in an All-Star game for an individual player was 42, by none other than Wilt Chamberlain. If we were to translate this into regular-season record shattering, Wilt’s 100-point game would have been demolished with 124!

But that’s just silly.

Wizards streaking into All-Star break

With their convincing win over the Indiana Pacers last night, coupled with a Celtics loss to the Bulls, my hometown Washington Wizards pulled to within two games of second place in the Eastern Conference heading into this weekend’s All-Star break. Five games out of first.

With their band of largely unsung heroes (though becoming less so every day), the Wizards (nee Bullets) have gone from laughing stock for much of my life to bona fide contenders for an NBA title.

And if they win one before the Caps or Nats I’ll just have to laugh.

UConn women poised for history

It was Leslie Knope who coined the term “Galentine’s Day,” but if the gals from UConn’s top-ranked women’s basketball team prevail tonight against sixth-ranked South Carolina, the holiday will be forever theirs.

For those of you not following women’s college hoops, the Lady Huskies tonight are going for their 100th consecutive victory. One hundred. Their Harlem Globetrotter-like dominance of the sport over the past few years has been almost obscene, yet I’m going to love for it to continue.

Move over, Knope. These gals have got it all.