The strangest story in print I saw among the collection of October magazines was James L. Swanson's article in American Heritage. In its title, Swanson posed a provocative question, "Was Jefferson Davis Captured in a Dress?" Davis was the President of the Confederate States during the American Civil War. At initial glance, one might think with all the rumors of Abraham Lincoln being gay that this article was about Davis possibly being a transvestite.
In that same magazine, Nat Gertler did a retrospective of the works of Charles Schulz. His "Six Decades of Peanuts" looked back fondly at Charlie Brown and his friends. Of course, new comic strips in newspapers are produced daily. Many of them satirize politics. GQ magazine published some by Scott Brown and Anthony King with illustrations by R. Sikoryak. They were in the mag's "Midterm Funny Pages," but on page 201, "It's a Tough Election, Harry Reid," riffs directly on the classic Schulz strip.
The October issue of The Atlantic also featured a comic strip retrospective. Garry Trudeau revisited the Doonsbury cartoon at its 40th anniversary in "The Story of a Generation." While the mag profiled a Pulitzer Prize-winning creation, it also spotlighted things such as the slap-happy antics of Johnny Knoxville and company. If you'd like brief insight into Knoxville's October 3-D blockbuster, check out James Parker's "The Jackass Effect."
Because I can never back away from articles about movies or movie stars, I must also point out the article about Diane Lane in Ladies Home Journal called "Life in the Slow Lane." Yet, the best pieces in that same issue were Fernanda Marie's "The Divorce Diary" and Ellen Seidman's "Can This Marriage be Saved."
These articles were geared toward women, which is the target in most of the best-selling magazines. For example, Forbes magazine published its list of "100 Most Powerful Women," the cover of which had Arianna Huffington. Inside, you could read blurbs on various women from Huffington to Sarah Palin. It was put out on the news racks only a week following Fortune magazine publishing its similar list of "50 Most Powerful Women." Fortune opted to enumerate women who weren't celebrities like Palin but rather women who worked as CEOs and corporate presidents. The only recognizable name was its cover girl, Oprah Winfrey.
Both magazines had a wealth of interesting pieces. In Forbes, Janet Novak and Ashlea Ebeling did "Billionaire Tax Battle," which pitted some of the wealthiest men in America against each other. Susan Adams profiled Tim Wu and his idea of net neutrality for "The Open Internet Guy." Meanwhile, Christopher Steiner's "Startup.com: The Sequel" was about the return of Kaleil Tuzman since the 2001 documentary chronicling his downfall. In Fortune, Patricia Sellers got an inside look on what Oprah will be doing next year. Steven Grey's article on Glenn Oliver for Assignment Detroit touched upon a lot of important issues and struggles in inner cities.
Back in September, the best photographs in a magazine that I saw went to National Geographic and Audubon, but this month, I have to give it to two others. The October issue of House Beautiful had a great spread on page 154 of Jeff Lewis' "Kitchen of the Year" in New York that was very well done. Similarly, the October issue of Architectural Digest had photos by Robert Reck of a place in New Mexico called Light Footprint. The Overland Partners designed it and the look was nothing short of stunning.
Of the regional magazines, I skipped the periodicals out of Philadelphia and Washington, DC, but I did check out the October issue of Delaware Today. Its cover story was on the state's top doctors. Inside, it sported articles on Punkin' Chunkin but the most interesting had to be Bob Yearick's "The Car That Will Save Our Souls," which followed the introduction of the Fisker Karma, a sleek and sexy, plug-in hybrid electric vehicle.
A companion piece to go with that might be Joshua Davis' article "How Elon Musk Turned Tesla Into the Car Company of the Future." The story of the 39-year-old CEO of Tesla Motors was published in Wired magazine. While there, you can also read Scott Brown's "Sex! Hackers! Embellishment! The Inside Story of the Facebook Movie." The so-called Facebook movie The Social Network took up space in a few other mags as well. Stuart Klawans and Ari Melber each had their own separate pieces about the movie in The Nation. Mark Harris also wrote "Inventing Facebook" in New York magazine.
And speaking of science and technology, I happened upon a really interesting article by Sara Seager, the professor at MIT, called "The Hunt for Super-Earths." If you have no clue what Super-Earths are, they're planets with masses bigger than the one we're currently inhabiting. Why they're important was the basis for Seager's article, but if this isn't enough to satisfy your inner geek, then check out "Digitizer in Chief" by Michael Moyer on the White House's very first chief information officer, Vivek Kundra. Moyer's article is found in October's Scientific American. Of course, it doesn't outshadow Stephen Hawking's "The (Elusive) Theory of Everything," which can also be found in that same magazine.
Finally, the most inspirational things I've read all month were found within the pages of Airman Magazine. Its cover story by Staff Sgt. J. Paul Croxon called "Never Say It's Impossible" centered on an injured soldier competing in the Warrior Games. At the same time, the funnest articles of the month were found in New York magazine. "Chasing Fox" by Gabriel Sherman deals with the changing tide at CNN and "Strangely Insecure for a Cool Guy" by Saki Knafo profiles Mark Ronson. Both were very entertaining reads.
But as always, here is a rundown of the articles that I saw, which I think were the absolute best.
1. "Autism's First Child" by John Donovan and Caren Zucker for The Atlantic
2. "My Lie" by Meredith Moran for Psychology Today
3. "Bullying: A Special Report" by various writers for People
4. "Concussions: A Special Report" by Peter King for Sports Illustrated
5. "The Rebuilding, Part 6 - 'Good Days at Ground Zero'" by Scott Raab for Esquire
6. "Jonesing for Love Jones" by Scott Paulson-Bryant for Ebony
7. "Are You Sure You Want to Quit the World" by Nadya Labi for GQ
8. "I Did It" by Robert Kolker for New York
9. "The All-American Bank Heist" by David Kushner for GQ
10. "Everybody Wants Somebody to Hear Their Story" by Carol Bedard and Charles Fuhrken for English Journal
11. "This Platform is Not Yet Rated" by Josef Adalion for New York
12. "What Amazon Fears Most: Diapers" by Bryant Urstadt for Bloomberg Businessweek