Howard Stern is rock and roll -- offensive, honest, vain, worshiped, addicted to sunglasses. Too bad it took Rolling Stone forever to figure that out. The Feb. 10 issue features "the Rolling Stone interview" with Mr. Stern months after every other venue has done the shock-jock-turned-best-seller-feller to death. And here he shares nothing new -- his shtick seems to be stuck in neutral. He still loves lesbians: "Donahue knows it. Geraldo knows it. Oprah knows it. November rating sweeps come up, and it's lesbians, lesbians, lesbians." And he still depends on self-deprecation: "I don't feel very good about myself. I don't think I'm an attractive man." Rolling Stone should have pushed him into new territory.*
Once again, Tina Brown steers her New Yorker along the wave, with a piece in the Jan. 31 issue on the inadequacies of the justice system. The author, William Finnegan, served on a Manhattan jury that found a man named Martin Kaplan guilty of a brutal subway mugging. But after Kaplan is sent to prison for five to 10 years, Mr. Finnegan returns to the case as a reporter: "I wanted to learn more about the real story, the fuller, truer tale that we jurors, with a man's freedom hanging on our judgment, had been forced to guess at lamely." He interviews many of the principal characters, in elaborate detail, even becoming a phone pal of sorts to Kaplan. By the end, his reporting work makes his jury work look like a day in kindergarten. His piece's title: "Doubt."*
"Lock up your sons -- the 21st-Century Woman is in the building," warns the February Esquire, which chronicles the rise of "do-me feminism," a "new generation of women thinkers, who are embracing sex (and men!)." "The feminist scholarship of Andrea Dworkin and Catharine MacKinnon is so dull, so Alan Alda," punk-folk singer Lois Maffeo says in the piece. No doubt, this slick men's magazine has little use for feminists who aren't embracing sex (and men!). The subtext: Don't worry, guys, there'll be sex in the future. Also as part of Esquire's package, writer E. Jean Carroll hangs tough with a 17-year-old named Suzanne from Madison, Wis., who is meant to represent 21st-century womanhood. She's an exercise in stylized nihilism. The rest of the issue is very 20th-century man, with good profiles of Alec Baldwin, Nicholson Baker and Oliver North.