I come now to sing the praises of our Frontlines and Radar sections, two fertile microclimates within our pages that don’t get their due—at least not as much as they should. I got my start in the magazine business working on Esquire’s long-running Man at His Best section, and later went on to edit the Flash section in Spin, so I have some experience in the care and feeding of a healthy front-of-book. Done well, an FOB amounts to something like a magazine within the magazine, a place where the editorial voice speaks loud and proud, and the articles, though short, set the tone. Everybody does it differently, but if you do it right it grabs the reader’s attention and gives you a taste of the times we live in.
This month, like most months, our FOB is packed to the gills with thought-provoking, funny, curious, eye-catching stuff. Kicking off the issue is Polk Laffoon’s exit interview with Paavo Järvi, in which the maestro gets a few things off his chest. Järvi has never been one to pull his punches; he says what he means and means what he says. But since we are at the end of his tenure as conductor of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, it makes you realize even more acutely what we’ll be losing: a real champion of the arts in general and the CSO in particular. He bemoans the waves of “Philistinism” crashing over the country these days, and gives a shout-out to National Public Radio and the National Endowment for the Arts, two bulwarks of art, creativity, independent thought, and critical journalism that are currently under assault in Washington. You gotta admire that. Another thing to admire: Dr. Know. Albert Pyle, the man behind the doctor, is a municipal treasure. His knowledge of Cincinnati’s tribal customs runs deep, and his tart refusal to suffer fools gladly runs deeper. No matter what issue he’s tackling (Hyde Park envy and civic nicknames, for instance), his aim is to inform and amuse, even when his dander is up. And when, really, is it not?
There’s more to admire in both Frontlines and Radar, of course. Romualdo Pelle, truly one of the last of a breed, reveals how he became a master tailor in Inside Information. Julie Irwin Zimmerman discovers a local seamstress creating beautiful first communion dresses from vintage linens. Linda Vaccariello talks with former Post photographer Mel Grier about his new photo exhibit, “White People.” Alyssa Brandt explores a new frontier in local shopping—Knickers XY, a shop devoted mostly to men’s underwear. Lisa Murtha gives us a tour of the new apartments at The Banks (which are going fast). And William Powell gets advice from John Vota, owner of the Safe & Ready Life store in Milford, about how to prepare for a number of worst-case disaster scenarios—definitely a sign of the times.