The New Yorker, Oct. 6 A story handicaps Barack Obama's chances in an increasingly blue Virginia, focusing on the state's rural southwest. A team of Virginia Dems—including Gov. Tim Kaine, Sen. Jim Webb, and Democratic guru David "Mudcat" Saunders—weigh in on Obama's "Appalachia problem." First, organization: Obama has opened eight campaign offices in the region to McCain's one. Second, message: "Obama would be well served emphasizing a populist theme for the rest of the campaign," says Webb. … A feature reports on the covert operations of the Environmental Investigation Agency, a nonprofit group working to combat illegal logging. Timber gets smuggled from Russia into China and ends up being sold at Wal-Mart—a black-market business that often boasts profits "better than drug smuggling." Along the way, the EIA "spies" risk getting entangled with the local mafia.
New York, Oct. 6 The magazine's 40th-anniversary issue features an essay by Kurt Andersen that traces the most significant New York City movements and moments of the last four decades. "The nationally branded version of 'the late sixties' may have been mainly about flowers and sunshine, but the New York edition was edgy, even grisly, always embedded with the imagination of disaster—that is, New Yorkier."… In another piece, Jay McInerney reflects on the ascendancy of the "yuppie" during the 1980s: "Once we had a name for them, we suddenly realized that they were everywhere, like the pod people of Invasion of the Body Snatchers—especially here in New York, the urbanest place of all. We might have even recognized them as us." McInerney argues that gym-joining, brand-worshipping yuppie culture "has become the culture, if not in reality, than aspirationally."
Newsweek, Oct. 6 The cover story takes a close look at the leadership styles of John McCain and Barack Obama. McCain is "Mr. Hot, a candidate who makes no apologies for his often merry mischief-making"; Obama is "Mr. Cool, at once impressively intellectual and yet aloof." The authors suggest that the "drama of the autumn"—the vice-presidential nominations, the conflict in Georgia, and the financial crisis—"has served perhaps the noblest end we could hope for, shedding light on how each man would govern."… A tribute bids farewell to Paul Newman, "one of the biggest stars in Hollywood history," who hadn't "a shred of the diva in him." Despite his class and good looks, Newman's roles rarely pivoted on romance: "It's hard to think of another star so beloved by both men and women who had such a dismal on-screen amatory track record. His most successful long-term relationship was with us."
Weekly Standard, Oct. 6 The cover story traces the history of car-seat laws. The car seat appeared 30 years ago as "a novelty device." But after the introduction of car-safety legislation, some began to worry about "the specter of government intrusion into the everyday lives of citizens." Advocates soon discovered that many people were simply incapable of installing their car seats properly, inducing an entirely new set of concerns. … A piece surveys a recent inventory of "Islamic books and videos in Muslim chapel libraries in 105 federal correctional institutions." The findings—"a marked predominance of Wahhabi and other fundamentalist Sunni literature" in addition to "plentiful materials from the Nation of Islam"—are significant, says the author, because of "Muslim extremists' openly stated intent to spread their ideology through prisons."
Los Angeles, October 2008 In the magazine's "Sex Issue," a feature showcases the attempts of a former high-school classmate of David Spade's to unpack Spade's uncannily successful ways with women. Convinced that Spade possesses a singular clef d'amour, the author—still single at 42—recounts nights out with Spade in L.A. and Las Vegas, conversations with the women in his life, a trip to the set of Spade's sitcom, and a high-school reunion. Still, he fails to discover the secret of "the greatest ladies' man of all time."… A piece examines the strange dynamics of the celebrity sex tape—equal parts exhibitionism, voyeurism, narcissism, career move, fantasy, and occasional grand bore. "Like stripper chic of the '80s and the porn-star chic of the '90s, the sex tape became hip."