Graphic havoc gets new outlet Viewpoint: Ray Gun's layout and typography designer moves to fashion quarterly, ensuring that Speak won't be easy.


March 03, 1996|By Vicki Hengen | Vicki Hengen,BOSTON GLOBE

Several weeks ago, an old friend from college reported that she'd met, at a party in New York, the graphic designer of Ray Gun.

"Cool," I said. "Did you hit him?"

"No," she replied. "But I wanted to."

Personality and party etiquette aside, what we were referring to, in code, was the fact that we consider this particular guy to have single-handedly ruined the art of magazine layout and typography for those of us who actually want to read the words.

A hyper-happenin', music-and-pop-culture mag, Ray Gun always has been the kind of thing you've got to read upside down and sideways -- and even then, it may not make sense. The whole effect is disorienting, like having spent too much time watching the dryers spin in a laundromat.

So, anyway, we were pleased to hear that this designer had recently been released from Ray Gun and has teamed up with an old pal to wreak more typographical havoc on the world -- with Speak, a quarterly report on "fashion and modern culture."

The first issue, out now, doesn't vary from the prescribed hipster formula; it's terribly groovy, visually engaging, completely annoying and as incoherent as Ray Gun ever was. It's a pretty, trendy candy-gram of an issue, but without teeth. There are pieces on jazz organist Jimmy Smith, songwriter Lloyd Cole and a fashion spread set in a bowling alley.

We say, buy it, turn the pages, take a pill, turn it upside down and relax (preferably in an airport lounge) to get the full nouveau-psychedelic effect.

Love those men's mags

On a different tangent entirely, I keep wondering why I like "men's" magazines so much. I love them, in fact. But I find the macho lit a little wacky, a little insulting, often well reported and consistently a bit confused.

March's Esquire is no exception; it beckons, baits, berates and overrates us girls -- all at the same time. How can you possibly take seriously a cover story titled "I'm Sorry I Ruined Your Life: In Praise of Dangerous Women"?

So don't. Skip it. Proceed directly to "Reality Check," a great gossip column. You'll discover that Courtney Love's dad is writing her unauthorized biography, and that Mia Farrow is dating Philip Roth!

David Mamet writes a fashion column on the little black turtleneck, investing it as an icon of romance, creativity and loss.

Finally, you've gotta love an interview (with Frank Sinatra) that offers a line like this:

Q: "What should a man never do in the presence of a woman?"

A: "Yawn."

That weird, hazardous Tori

In further praise of dangerous women, Elisabeth Shue -- she who did a beautiful job of lying and slowly dying and never really leaving Las Vegas at all -- snarls from the cover of Interview. A beautifulloser, a good girl in black-and-blue eye shadow who picks men badly, Ms. Shue is up for an Oscar, and she deserves it.

There's also a piece on 13-year-old heartthrob Natalie Portman, of "Beautiful Girls," and one on rocker Aimee Mann.

Tori Amos, another hazardous beauty, stares from the cover of Spin, which offers a pretty amusing interview with her. Tori talks a lot about goddesses, "faeries," Vikings and volcanoes -- to name just a few of her fave things.

We always knew this chick was weird, but this article pretty much clinches it. Tori admits to having once "wanted to marry Lucifer," even while simultaneously "having a crush on Jesus."

On some of her "darkest days," Tori tells us, Lucifer even comes and "gives me an ice cream." At other times, he sits on her piano.

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