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A Guy's Moleskine Notebook

Thoughts and reflections on works of fiction and literature. Pondering of life through pictures and words. Babbling about gay rights. Travelogues and anecdotes.

  • [1] Annie Proulx: Brokeback Mountain
  • [2] Arthur Golden: Memoirs of a Geisha
  • [3] Yu Hua: To Live
  • [4] Alan Hollinghurst: The Line of Beauty
  • [5] Colm Toibin: The Master
  • [6] Carlos Ruiz Zafon: The Shadow of the Wind
  • [7] William James: The Varieties of Religious Experience
  • [8] Charles Higham: The Civilization of Angkor
  • [9] Graham Greene: A Burnt-Out Case
  • [10] Dai Sijie: Mr. Muo's Travelling Couch
  • [11] Alan Hollinghurst: The Swimming-Pool Library
  • [12] Mikhail Bulgakov: The Master and Margarita
  • [13] Colm Toibin: The Blackwater Lightship
  • [14] Alan Hollinghurst: The Folding Star
  • [15] Ross King: Michelangelo and the Pope's Ceiling
  • [16] Fyodor Dostoevsky: The Brothers Karamazov
  • [17] Jonathan Franzen: The Corrections
  • [18] Colm Toibin: The Story of the Night
  • [19] John Banville: Shroud
  • [20] Leo Tolstoy: Resurrection
  • [21] Peter Hessler: River Town, Two Years on the Yangtze
  • [22] Ian McEwan: The Atonement
  • [24] Gabriel Garcia Marquez: Love in the Time of Cholera
  • [25] Ignacio Padilla: Shadow without a Name
  • [26] Umberto Eco: The Name of the Rose
  • [27] Richard Russo: Straight Man
  • [28] Fyodor Dostoevsky: Notes from Underground
  • [29] Alan Hollinghurst: The Spell
  • [30] Hermann Broch: The Death of Virgil
  • [31] James Baldwin: Giovanni's Room
  • [32] Ken Kesey: One Flew over the Cuckoo's Nest
  • [33] Xingjian Gao: One Man's Bible
  • [34] C. Jay Cox: Latter Days
  • [35] Harper Lee: To Kill A Mockingbird
  • [36] William Shakespeare: The Taming of the Shrew
  • [37] Daniel A. Helminiak: What The Bible Really Says about Homosexuality
  • [38] James Baldwin: Tell Me How Long the Train's Been Gone
  • [39] Kenji Yoshino: Covering - The Hidden Assault of Civil Rights
  • [40] Italo Calvino: If, On a Winter's Night A Traveler
  • [41] Arthur Phillips: The Egyptologist
  • [42] George Orwell: 1984
  • [43] Michael Warner: The Trouble with Normal: Sex, Politics, and Ethics of Queer Life
  • [44] Andrew Sullivan: Virtually Normal
  • [45] Henry James: The Wings of the Dove
  • [46] Jose Saramago: Blindness
  • [47] Umberto Eco: The Mysterious Flame of Queen Loana
  • [48] Dan Brown: Da Vinci Code
  • [49] Kazuo Ishiguro: Never Let Me Go
  • [50] Ken Follett: The Pillars of Earth
  • [51] Leo Tolstoy: War and Peace
  • [52] Michael Thomas Ford: Alec Baldwin Doesn't Like Me
  • [53] Jonathan Franzen: How To Be Alone
  • [54] Jonathan Lethem: The Fortress of Solitude
  • [55] Matthew Pearl: The Dante Club
  • [56] Zadie Smith: White Teeth
  • [57] Fyodor Dostoevsky: The Double
  • [58] Jose Saramago: The Double
  • [59] Andrew Holleran: Dancer from the Dance
  • [60] Heinrich von Kleist: The Marquise of O & Other Stories
  • [61] Andrew Holleran: In September, the Light Changes
  • [62] Tom Perrotta: Little Children
  • March 28, 2006

     

    Is Cargo Magazine Really a Gay Icon?

    An Amazon reviewer deems Cargo another magazine that is full of glorified advertising. Sure, but aren't most of magazines out there full of page after page of fashion brand names briefing on their season's newest arrivals anyway? Advertising is key to keep readers updated with the latest trends. But what distinguishes this slim magazine compared to its near-phone-book-size counterparts is the plethora of information it pours on its readers.

    Cargo is way more than just advertising. On top of reviews on the latest electronic gadgets (digital cameras, PDAs, MP3 players, car stereos...), the sneak previews of the coming season's trendy looks, Cargo interacts with its readers. You may ask the expert what to wear in your next wedding invitation. The editors will also find that pair of shoes that will match the shirt that you have forgotten about in your closet. After all, the editors are customers themselves, in a more techincal term, a maven, someone who has lots of information and inside scoops on different products or prices or places.

    This idea hinges on the fact that mavens like to initiate product discussion with consumers and respond to requests and provide recommendation. This maven logic tugs into the Amazon reviewing business perfectly: there is something about the personal, detached, two-cent type of opinion from a maven that makes us all sit up and listen. Maven's real power derives from the fact that reviews are voluntary, which makes opinion sharing so much more compelling than critics or staff editors whose job is to rate the products.

    I think there's nothing wrong with a shopping magazine that comes with sticker tabs to mark on things that interest us and we can come back to items later. Cargo is a fun magazine to read and to while away an afternoon with. Rumor has it that readership of Cargo is indicative of a gay man. Most of my gay friends read, if not subscribe to, Cargo. I think magazine like Cargo alludes to the result is a new gray area that is rendering gaydar - that totally unscientific sixth sense that many people rely on to tell if a man is gay or straight. It's not that straight men look more stereotypically gay per se, or that out-of-the-closet gay men look straight. What's happening is that many men have migrated to a middle ground where the cues traditionally used to pigeonhole sexual orientation.

    Cargo somehow carries this undertow of a new convergence of gay-vague style, which is not to be confused with metrosexuality. The magazine steers straight men to a handful of feminine perks like pedicures, scented candles, aromatherapeutic bathing oils and prettily striped dress shirts. Gay vagueness affects both straight and gay men. It involves more than grooming and clothes. It notably includes an attitude of indifference to having one's sexual orientation misread; hence the breakdown of many people's formerly reliable gaydar.

    By the way, I like Jeremy Piven too. His ruggedness is appealing.

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