Monday, December 27, 2004

Graydon Carter on "Lensmen"

Being a Conde Nast editor, like being in the pimping game, aint easy. For one, a Conde Nasty must carefully walk the thin tightrope between "shallow" and "stylish." And you, my dear, mellow, naive reader, thought the two were the same. Piffle.

One cannot appear to be too intellectual, because, well, that suggests unsavory hints at being learned, spending hours at the books but not on your obligatory Conde Nast mantan and Prada, and, well, education is not cool -- unless, of course, you are David Remnick, Conde Nast's one-man AV squad, whose very existence kind of offsets the general fluffiness of the Newhouse enterprise.

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Graydon: Pre-Dandy Architectonic hair accent

Navigating the thin line between the shallow and the stylish is not an easy task, nor is it one that should be embarked upon lightly. Presumably, lesser men would crumble. Graydon Carter, however, does so with panache in his elegantly-tailored Saville Row suits smoking his Winston Lights. Suavitude of a high degree is involved here, my mellows. Carter blends the requisite benign neglect of African-American cover subjects with a considerable skill at the facile observation. We'll only make passing reference to the architectonic head of hair.

Here, vintage Graydon on -- not photographers, mind you -- (sotto voce) "lensemen":

"I was blessed to have worked with Helmut Newton for a dozen years here at V.F. I was fortunate, too, to have had tea once with Cartier-Bresson, in the bar of the Ritz Hotel in Paris a few years back, to discuss his first major U.S. assignment in 29 years. (He had, by that time, all but given up photography for a sketchpad.) Cartier-Bresson was then in his early 90s, but his eyes were those of a young man. So was his mischievous manner."

A considerable pause.

Photography (The Corsair rolls up his sleeves; gets ready to dispel some old shibbeloths). Okay, The Corsair is prepared to turn off a portion of his audience here, he always is, we have strong opinions, so be it, we believe photographers as overrated.

There, we said it.

We believe photography to be a minor art form, not a major one. Charming, to be sure, and vaguely "French;" there has never been a "genius" photographer, nor can there ever be, we believe, like there are, say, genius writers, such as Count Tolstoi, or sculptors, such as Constantin Brancusi.

Like we said, a minor art form, and, thus, a perfect subject for Graydon Carter to wrap his thin Canadian lips around, nothing too serious, nothing suggesting either learning or intellectual effort:

"... Their travels help form the patina of their characters and the grist for their tales. These old-timers, I will tell you, are great company. Not only that, they seem to go forever.

"Every half-year or so, I squeeze myself into a booth at Gallagher's, an ancient Midtown haunt not far from the Time & Life Building, for a lunch with a small crew of these gifted elders."

The lensemen, it appears, are being squeezed out of this profile, no? It's now all about The Graydon. Hey, Graydon, which of The Seven Rooms are "the lensemen" in? Huh? The Hanging-With-Mick-in-Mustique Room?:

"These twice-yearly lunches generally include my colleague Jonathan Becker (a pup at 50) and such photographic greats as Slim Aarons, 88, Arnold Newman, 86, Douglas Kirkland, 70, and Tom Hollyman, 85. Another regular is a man they all worked for at one point in their careers: Frank Zachary, the former editor in chief of Town & Country and the art director of the old Holiday magazine in the 50s. The last time we got together was for Zachary's 90th birthday."

Sweet Holiday Magazine reference, Graydon; that was, like, how many decades before we were born? You do know, Graydon, baby, that the median age at this Gallagher's repast, BTW, is 75/76? Let's hope the menu offerings were easy on the digestion, and those scotches were laced with Mylanta.

1 comment:

Bubbles, Ink. said...

Fabulous, Ron. And, great to see the name of a true artist, and a countryman: Constantin Brancusi. He was incredible. When I was 5 and lived in Romania, we visited a few of his famous sculptures, strewn across empty parks. His genius has stayed with me ever since.

P.S. Graydon is a swine.