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The old joke has it that reading Playboy for the articles is a dodge — a way to deflect clucking tongues of disapproval for the shy reader’s appreciation of nubile females. That old joke became a cruel one in the late winter of 2016 when the magazine published its first ever non-nude issue. Cooper Hefner, the 27-year-old owner and editor of Playboy, initially told readers that the legendary publication would cease publishing buxom models in their birthday suits for good. That promise did not last. The sadistic joke was over.

Back when Playboy was actually groundbreaking, daring, and (dare I say it) titillating, the magazine not only featured some of the world’s most beautiful women, but also some of the world’s best writers. Much of this literary greatness came courtesy of one editor — Ray Russell. Ironically, Russell, who managed the magazine’s fiction department during the early 1950s to early 1970s, was a Victorian thorough and thorough. Or at least he wrote like a Victorian English gentleman with a deep taste for the weird. More… “Conte Cruel”

Benjamin Welton is a freelance writer based in Boston. He is the author of Hands Dabbled in Blood.

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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.

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