Why is Simon Dumenco mad this week? Ellie Madness, naturally. Well, not the madness itself; rather, he's mad about the Ellies. He makes several perfectly reasonable points about things fucked up with the magazine biz's big awards. His suggestions:
• Stop giving all the awards to the magazines' editors. ("For instance, Jane Mayer's New Yorker reportage is nominated in the 'Reporting' category, but if she 'wins' it, Editor in Chief David Remnick actually gets to go up on stage and accept it. Which is something akin to 'Capote' director Bennett Miller getting the Best Performance by an Actor Oscar because he "assigned" the lead role to some guy named Philip Seymour Hoffman").
• Get rid of the General Excellence awards, at least as currently constructed. ("This year the '250,000 to 500,000' circ nominees are The Atlantic Monthly, Backpacker, New York Magazine, Texas Monthly and Technology Review.... [Why is ASME] pretending that, you know, The Atlantic Monthly is in any way competitive with Backpacker, and so on?").
• And make a big deal about disqualifying misbehavers. ("Like, how about something along the lines of: 'Because of its shameful record of "reporting" on one too many false celebrity pregnancies, Star is not only ineligible for NMAs this year, but shall have its "magazine" status revoked, and will henceforth be referred to as "a ridiculous thing printed on shiny paper."'")
But we must most emphatically agree with his final suggestion, "Bring back the salmon loaf." By this he means, return the ceremony to its traditional spot as a luncheon at the Waldorf, instead of this year's plan, in which it'll be a black-tie, auditorium-seated presentation in Jazz at Lincoln Center. Simon's argument on this one is mildly compelling: "The passive-aggressive Waldorf wait staff, who provided the only real entertainment value, always took way too long to clear plates, thinking you weren't done yet — when in fact you were done after the first awful bite. I'm convinced that attendees' collective fear of the salmon loaf (or whatnot) moldering away on their plates was the only thing keeping windy acceptance speeches from going on forever." But we'll do him one better. This whole thing becomes much less transgressively amusing when it no longer features an 11:30 a.m. cocktail hour.