Wednesday, December 07, 2011

In case you missed it...

Washingtonian Magazine profiles the brilliant former editor of Tropic Magazine, (1985-1990), Gene Weingarten in its December issue

It's must reading for anyone who has fond memories of the Miami Herald's Sunday magazine.

Among the story's highlights is an account of how a full-color photograph of Dave Barry flipping the bird ended up on the magazine's cover in September 1989. It's safe to say it was the first and last time an image like that would see the light of day in the pages of the Herald.
In September 1989, Weingarten and company published a cover story about the new Orlando Magic basketball team in which they mocked the city of Orlando and referred to its team’s general manager as a weenie. The article was written by Dave Barry, whom Weingarten had hired in 1984, thereby launching the career of perhaps the most famous humor columnist of the late 20th century. The article’s stated purpose was to “whip up a mindless hatred on the part of our readership in hopes of creating a classic sports rivalry.” Below a photograph of Magic cheerleaders, rather than printing their actual names, Weingarten made up monikers like Flunky, Poobles, and Spaz.
Click to enlarge.

What may be most memorable about the issue is the cover photo. Pictured is Barry spinning a basketball on his middle finger. The cover line extends “heartfelt best wishes” to Orlando on the arrival of its new team.

Weingarten somehow convinced the then executive editor of the Herald that flipping the bird “isn’t really offensive to people.” Turns out it really is offensive to people, and the paper got letters, lots of letters, including one from a mother who asked what she should tell her son when he asked why his hero, the great Dave Barry, was making an obscene gesture on the cover of a magazine. The executive editor later said running the photo was the only decision she ever regretted.

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