Playboy announced yesterday that it will be covering up a bit after over 60 years of publication. In response the surge of nude and pornographic content available for free online, the magazine that took sex to the front page will not feature nude women beginning next March. Maybe now people really will just read it for the articles. (The New York Times)

Alaska and at least nine U.S. cities followed the lead South Dakota took in 1990 and celebrated Indigenous Peoples Day yesterday instead of Columbus Day. Activists argue that honoring Christopher Columbus honors a history of Native American and African American subjugation. Supporters say that the U.S. would not be the way it is today without Columbus. (USA Today and Heavy, Inc.)

About a month ago, Elisa Gabbert meditated on the word “pretty” for the Smart Set. Now, the Guardian is taking a long, hard look at “ugly.” (The Guardian) •

Maren Larsen is the associate editor of The Smart Set. She is a digital journalism student, college radio DJ, and outdoor enthusiast.


I grew up in a world that some people might consider a paradise. Or was it more like hell? In any case, I was regularly surrounded by naked strangers. Sometimes I knew these encounters were coming my way, while other times they took me by surprise.

The scene was Europe in the early 1970s. I can remember long-haired students running naked through the streets of West Berlin, my home town. These “streakers” were so fast that those in the vicinity only glimpsed them for a moment. As far as I can recall, the streakers’ physical exploits were not tied to any political agenda. I think they simply enjoyed shocking or provoking people by intentionally pushing boundaries – but I was too young to have an opinion about it or even find it all particularly interesting.

There’s a place in France where the naked ladies dance. There’s a hole in the wall where the men can see it all. Except in this case, the lady isn’t dancing. She’s lying naked in a park. Her legs are splayed open to reveal a hairless vagina, more of a cleft than anything else. A waterfall glitters in the background. She could be a corpse but for the fact that she is holding a lantern with her left arm. From the peephole in the wooden door we cannot see her head.

“Marcel Duchamp: ‘Étant donnés’” at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Through Nov. 29, 2009.

This is Marcel Duchamp’s last work. It is three-dimensional, something like a diorama. The naked woman is a life-sized model made from a cast of a woman Duchamp was once in love with. The… More…