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NEW YORK — A few weeks ago, Bon Appétit editor in chief Adam Rapoport and New York Times Magazine editor Hugo Lindgren went out to dinner at Veritas with Times food critic Sam Sifton and Random House editor Andy Ward. It was, in Rapoport’s words, a “very dude dinner.”
Once the waitress came around to take drink orders, Lindgren made the great faux pas of ordering a sparkling wine.
“I was like ‘Dude! What? You want a sparkler?’” said Rapoport.
Sh-t talk began. The other dudes had ordered vodka and bourbons.
“We were giving Hugo a hard time because he wanted a, quote-unquote, ‘sparkler’ to start off the meal,” Rapoport said. “He got a lot of grief from all three of us.”
Just a night of dudes being dudes, bros being bros, but there’s a lot of this going around Manhattan media these days. In fact, you don’t have to look farther than the youngish, vaguely athletic, literate and street-jargoned top editors at The New York Times Magazine, Bon Appétit and Bloomberg BusinessWeek. They’re dudes; they’re editors. Ladies and dudes, meet the Dude-itors. These are not the editors who call you “Mr.” and “Miss,” as famed New Yorker editor William Shawn once did — although he did drive an M.G. convertible on the weekend. These guys say “Hey, man” as a salutation. Dude-itors don’t practice lines for lunch at the Century Association — they practice their golf swing in the office, toss around Nerf footballs when an issue is closing, and occasionally play pickup basketball together.
Who said this of his game, Maxwell Perkins or Adam Rapoport? “I don’t want to say I schooled Hugo, but if he tried to claim that he took me to school, then I’d have a problem with that.” It was Rapoport, dude!
They are guys who preach a certain carefree editorial attitude — or, as Rapoport put it, “You can work hard and play hard.” These are all guys who don’t exactly reflect the tightly wound, hyper-neurotic editor of yesteryear. These guys aren’t New York editor Adam Moss with his wire-framed glasses and metro-wonk affect, or New Yorker editor David Remnick, who may like the sports pages as well as the next dude but spends his nights with Philip Roth and foreign dispatches, or, say, even Daniel Zalewski, the charmingly driven New Yorker features editor who was offered the New York Times Magazine job and turned it down before Lindgren got the job.
“Dan Zalewski — whom I love — is not Mr. Laid Back and neither am I,” said Remnick.
“I’m a firm believer that every good editor — no matter if they’re 25 or 75 — is neurotic,” said Jim Kelly, the former managing editor of Time, adding, “They’re all neurotically dude-ish. It’s taking the coolness to a neurotic level.”
In one respect, Lindgren, Rapoport and Bloomberg BusinessWeek’s Josh Tyrangiel — all hired to their posts in the last 18 months — are the latest crop of hot, young-ish editors, all of them in their late 30s and early 40s. They’ve been brought in to reinvent their magazines at a time when magazines need reinvention.
“They’re the next generation,” said Rick Stengel, the managing editor of Time. “I think they’re great editors. They’re not the future — they’re the present. In terms of us figuring everything out, they will be the guys who will figure everything out. Or not.”
And they definitely are a new generation.
“I had never even heard of two of them until six months ago and one of them worked in my building,” said Vanity Fair editor in chief Graydon Carter.
Doctor! You’ve got to be fooling.
“Well, what convinced S.I. Newhouse and [Condé Nast editorial director] Tom Wallace to hire a straight guy from GQ to edit a national mass food magazine that has a large women’s readership?” said Rapoport.
Great question, bro!
All three Dude-itors have kids and are married — but all three project a certain aura of masculine confidence, a swagger that’s in demand these days, a generational cool. Publishers and business side folks need an editor who can see the present, the past and the future. Dude-itors can do that — they’re boys, they’re men, they’re literary, they’re digital. They’re bros who run a magazine, albeit — being the magazine world, after all — slightly sensitive ones who can appeal to both women and men. They are guys who might keep a six-pack in the bottom drawer with the baseball and the moisturizer — the last of which Rapoport does.