Wednesday, August 12th, 2009

Bonfire Of The Vanities

We're still eight weeks away from McKinsey actually handing out down recommendations for whatever painful cuts they devise to help boost the publisher's bottom line. But it's clear, from interviews with Condé Nast employees-from editors to executives to editorial staffers to ad sales slaves-that the enchanting, mystical era of Condé Nast is pretty much over. Small perks-the mani-pedis for clients, the flower deliveries, the sodas in the fridge-disappeared a while ago. Some changes, such as the emergence of Vanity Fair editor and restaurateur Graydon Carter eyeing reasonably priced stir fry, are worrisome on a psychological level. A culture of paranoia has taken over.

The McKinsey Summing
(After Yeats)

Kerning and kerning in the widening spire
The editor cannot spurn the consultant;
Things fall apart; Balthazar is on hold;
Mere sandwiches are loosed upon the world,
The Orangina-dimmed tide is lost, and everywhere
The ceremony of heated basalt stone massage is disallowed;
The best lack all subscriptions, while the worst
Are full of fashionate intensity.

Surely some termination is at hand;
Surely the McKinsey Summing is at hand.
The McKinsey Summing! Hardly are those words out
When a vast image out of Edwin Coaster
Troubles my sight: a cramped and crowded Gehry-land;
A shape with doughy body and a coif beyond grand,
A gaze blank and pitiless as the sunglasses of Anna Wintour,
Is buying its stir-fry, while all about it
Unmanicured nails of the indignant Glamour girls.
The darkness drops again but now I know
The fault was not just with Portfolio
No, fifty years of charging it to Si
Have ended gift bags and the car service guy,
And what daily beast, its Nobu dinners in the past,
Slouches towards 1166 Sixth Avenue to be born?

14 Comments / Post A Comment

KarenUhOh (#19)

Nice adaptation, Balk.

You know, I read the piece, and started seeing the, "And don’t even think about treating a client to body treatment," and about how the Fiji got replaced by Poland Spring; and then how the Poland Spring wasn't chilled; and now they're down to the last case, etc.

Is this what it takes, to write high-end fluff pieces and occasional searing investigative reporting between celebrity takedowns? Because, I'll tell you now, the water in our cooler is maintained at a steady, bracing 45 F. And, if you'll pay the freight, I'll have our soda machine (sorry, it sells Aquafina, when it's selling) sent right over. The charges won't be so bad–it's been empty for six months.

Kataphraktos (#226)

Those last lines hint at a new publication coming out of Conde Naste soon… are you spreading unfounded rumors? Or are they finally launching the mag for our times, Derelicte?

NinaHagen (#131)

Bonfire of the Panties.

HiredGoons (#603)

Maybe it'll give Graydon Carter an excuse to drop a few pounds. Between him n' Wintour, you've got two extremes, and extremism never did anyone any favors in the long run.

gregorg (#30)

that's sweet, Balk, but could you put it into a PowerPoint deck, please?

What cracks me up about this whole McKinsey exercise is how transparent it is: bring in some hired guns to take the heat and for cutting expenses, thereby keepig SI and current management's personal luxury brands intact.

Also, it sounds like typical hack work that could be done by anyone, even Booz or Bain. McK is the $1200 It Bag of consultants.

katiebakes (#32)

I hope the nice little barricade they are building around the New Yorker is made of Orangina bottles and bouquets of flowers.

Tulletilsynet (#333)

"The best lack all subscriptions" is the sweetest of the sweet. This is sweet.

Alex Balk (#4)

Much obliged, that was actually the line that got me started.

NinetyNine (#98)

Does someone know the consulting monkey joke? I think it used Andersen for the punchline, but McK works as well. Ends with 'What does the $50K monkey do? Um, no ones. We're afraid to ask. It's from Andersen.' Pretty obvious, I know, but some set up works, and googling 'monkey jokes' doesn't leave you in a good place.

NinetyNine (#98)

"Um, no one knows." Obviously.

La Cieca (#1,110)

‘What does the $50K monkey do? Um, no ones. We’re afraid to ask. It’s from Andersen.’

I gotta say, I like this punchline better.

stuffisthings (#1,352)

You're doing it wrong. You have to google "consulting monkey joke" (for which this post is now the 3rd result) and you get many variations on this:

'A man walks into a pet store looking to buy a monkey. The proprietor takes him to the back of the store and shows him three identical looking, well cared for and content monkeys each housed in spacious, animal friendly environments. "This one costs $600," says the owner. "Why so much?" asks the customer. "Because it can sing and play the Banjo" answers the owner. The customer inquires about the next monkey and is told, "That one costs $1,200, because it can talk, translate 20 languages and mix cocktails." The man is astonished and asks about the third monkey.

"That one costs $4,000," answers the proprietor. "4,000 dollars!" exclaims the man. "What can that one do?" To which the owner replies, "To be frank, I've never seen it do anything, but it calls itself a consultant."'

However, I like this one better. Sort of zen:

'A management consultant is a man who knows 101 ways to make love but doesn’t know any women.'

sixmile (#1,809)

a consultant is someone who tells you the time with your watch… then leaves wearing it… and the time is wrong.

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