- The Washington Times - Friday, April 27, 2007

Mother Nature is certainly doing her best to make up for those gray, cold April days, and the promise of May’s good weather seems to have brought out the environmentalists in force.

Vanity Fair has gone all out on the subject, splashing in outsize chartreuse letters on the cover the words “Green Issue,” with “Our 2nd Annual” above it in much more demure white print.

A grim-faced Leonardo DiCaprio stands on an Icelandic ice floe with the adorable polar bear cub Knut looking up at him. As a note on the magazine’s table of contents page explains, Mr. DiCaprio was photographed in Iceland by superstar shutterbug Annie Leibovitz — but the celebrated photographer had to fly to Germany to capture furry little Knut in the Berlin Zoo, where he was born. The note goes on to say that while the melting of Arctic ice imperils polar bears, the Bush administration, unwilling to list the animal as a threatened species, has recognized the power of symbols.

The administration has “warned government scientists not to speak publicly about polar bears or climate change at international meetings,” the note says, concluding: “Yes, we know there are no polar bears in Iceland. If current trends continue, there won’t be any in Canada, either.”

(If you want to savor the antics of the cute little devil on video as well as admire outtakes of Miss Leibovitz’s shoot, go to www.VF.com.)

Overall, there’s scarcely a feature in the whole issue that is not, well, green as can be — ranging from a portfolio of 88 crusaders (again featuring Miss Leibovitz’s work) who are struggling to save the planet to a story titled “Dante’s Inferno: Green Edition,” which depicts former Vice President Al Gore wearing a monk’s robe in “heaven” and Sen. James Inhofe, President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney down in “hell” with Satan’s arms wrapped around them.

• • •

The New Republic in its April 23 issue takes a gentle poke at Vanity Fair’s green fixation with a full-page parody purporting to be the table of contents for VF’s June issue, topped with that magazine’s bright red logo. At the top of the page runs a quote from Bono, billed as the “guest editor”: “Africa is sexy, and people need to know that.”

Promised articles include “The Tracks of My Tears” by Stella McCartney on skin care for humanitarians; “Starving People Can Be Green, Too” by Robert F. Kennedy Jr.; and a “Special Portfolio: The Mission” — “Forty-seven Rock Stars Who Are Saving Africa by Annie Leibovitz.” The photos accompanying the blurbs for the “articles” are quite clever.

• • •

The May issue of Elle is also dedicated to environmentalists, with a subhead of “Eco-Chic Heats Up” and Sheryl Crow, Orlando Bloom, Julia Roberts and Laurie David featured as people to “Save the Planet.” Although his name is not featured on the cover, page 272 shows Newt Gingrich seated beside Big Bird in a full-page photograph under the heading “ElleGreenPolitics.” Title of the article: “Strange Bedfellows” — not at all a kind view of the former speaker of the House.

• • •

Outside, that worthy male-oriented monthly, may not be highlighting green in its May issue, but it certainly makes life seem, well, pretty adventurous for those of us who live the armchair way of life. The lead article is “37 Dream Jobs: Turn Your Passion Into a Paycheck. Here’s the Plan.” The three men in wet suits decorating the cover to illustrate the article are the Malloy Brothers: “They Get Paid to Surf (Need We Say More?)” If you want more, you can always turn to Ian Frazier on “The World’s Greatest Fishing Guide.”

The magazine also has branched out with the just-released premiere issue of Outside Go: Travel & Style for Men — or, as its press release puts it, “for active and very affluent men.” You get articles such as “Return of the Cup: Larry Ellison’s Maritime Mission,” “The World’s Finest Concierge,” “The Best Surf Town North of the 45th Parallel,” and Pico Iyer’s truly “Hair-raising Escape From Yemen.”

• • •

Speaking of male-oriented periodicals, Conde Nast has just introduced a stunning new monthly: Portfolio, dedicated to “Business Intelligence.” Its editor in chief is a handsome, toothy young woman, Joanne Lipman, who comes from 22 years as a reporter and editor at the Wall Street Journal.

Imagine Vanity Fair crossed with the Wall Street Journal — very classy and edgy. The lead story, by Tom Wolfe, is illustrated with a striking photograph of the author by none other than Annie Leibovitz.

Don’t think it’s just male-oriented, what with Sheelah Kolhatkar on “The (Only) Women of Private Equity,” profiling the female deal makers in the elite world of private equity firms. That’s a $400 billion industry, by the way. A high-powered world indeed.

Another article guaranteed to generate interest among all Washingtonians is “Valerie, Scooter, and Me” by Matthew Cooper, Washington editor of the new magazine. Mr. Cooper, you may recall, is the former Time magazine writer who was nearly imprisoned for his role in the “CIA leak scandal.” You get an insider’s tale as promised, including President Bush’s teasing of the Time man, “Cooper, I thought you’d be in jail by now.”

• • •

Of course, the really big event next month is the remembrance of the 400th anniversary of the settling of Jamestown. With the aid of Capt. John Smith’s journals, the May issue of Smithsonian sets out to trace Smith’s historic voyage as he explored the riches of Chesapeake Bay. The captain wrote of the area, “Heaven and earth have never agreed better to frame a place for man’s habitation.” With a shoreline that winds about 11,000 miles, the estuary drains a watershed that spreads over six states. The photographs illustrating the territory are most handsome.

• • •

The May issue of National Geographic has a must-read in “America Found & Lost” by Charles C. Mann. Consider the first two sentences: “Much of what we learned in grade school about the New World encountered by the colonists at Jamestown is wrong. Four hundred years later, historians are piecing together the real story.”

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