Tag Archives: conversation

Is it Still Cool to be on the Cover of the Rolling Stone?

18 Jul

Rolling Stone is in the business to make money. They need to sell ads and get people to buy their magazines. And they know that provocative magazine covers sell. Founded in 1967 in San Francisco by Jann Wenner, it has been on the forefront of music and journalism for almost a half-century. They want to maintain their relevance, their importance in the national conversation. They want to be the voice and ultimate source for all things cool and relevant. That their reputation as a major marketer of mainstream entertainment may now transcend their bonafides as a publisher of cutting edge cultural critique makes  us wonder: Have their early days of music, peace, and love been replaced with music, peace, and money?

A treasured coveted piece of rock ‘n’ roll real estate. That’s how cool it is to be on the cover of the Rolling Stone. There’s even a song about it, the great Dr. Hook and the Medicine Show’s The Cover of the Rolling Stone. No other words have ever expressed better what that achievement really means:

Oh, we’re big rock singers. We got golden fingers. And we’re loved everywhere we go…We take all kinds of pills To give us all kind of thrills, But the thrill we’ve never known Is the thrill that’ll getcha When you get your picture On the cover of the Rolling Stone…Rolling Stone…Wanna see my picture on the cover. Rolling Stone… Wanna buy five copies for my Mother. Rolling Stone…Wanna see my smiling face On the cover of the Rolling Stone… But our minds won’t really get blown Like the blow that’ll getcha When you get your picture On the cover of the Rolling Stone.

What are we to make of the Rolling Stone August 2013 issue with the Boston bomber on the cover? Is it glamorizing terrorism as many think? The article inside written by Janet Reitman is a thoughtful account of who he was before his act and its devastating aftermath. In 1970, Charles Manson was on the cover. And the article won them a National Magazine Award. Is he getting “rock star” treatment? The cover of the September 1981 issue had a beautiful and still dead Jim Morrison. With an allure founded on a bad boy reputation of drinking, drugs, arrests, and riots. But he left us a legacy of evocative music that still has meaning.

We see rock star hair and a guarded direct gaze. What has he left us? Not anything good. His legacy is one of terror and victims. Is Rolling Stone making him a celebrity? They certainly have a controversial cover that may sell lots of issues. It’s getting a lot of media coverage. And it certainly has a lot of people talking. The question is: Is it still cool to be on the cover of the Rolling Stone?



The Cover of the Rolling Stone lyrics: Shel Silverstein

Barbara Walters Knows How To Talk

14 Jun

“I have been on television continuously for over 50 years,” so said Barbara Walters upon announcing her retirement. Barbara Walters is someone I’ve paid extra attention to. As a communications professional, I have taken note of her accomplishments and her skills throughout my career. Feeling reflective over this news, I went to my bookshelf to pick up a cherished book.

FF.BarbaraWalters.6.14.13In her first book, How to Talk with Practically Anybody About Practically Anything published in 1970, she talks about talking. In fact she gives a Master Class on conversation. She says the skills she uses as a journalist “…have been a boon to me in hundreds of everyday situations.” Her practical advice has proven time and again to be timeless, insightful, and universally useful.

This is my dog-eared, much used, and bruised first edition copy. Try to get this long out-of-print book for yourself. As Barbara Walters has shown us for 50 years, there is an art to conversation.

On carrying on a conversation: “… There should be genuine interest on both sides, opportunity and respect for both to express themselves, and some dashes of tact and perception.”

On talking with a celebrity: Be sincere (be admiring but don’t gush), be prepared, and be considerate.

On talking with a business person: Ask what gives them their greatest feeling of accomplishment.

On talking with the President: “Think human.”

On age gaps: When talking to kids, “Be honest. Be simple, be direct, be open.” Older people appreciate being asked their opinions on the latest social and technological changes.

On the key to making contact: Inner confidence.

On charm: Be warm. Show interest, reach out, and be generous with your time.

Throughout her book, Barbara Walters emphasizes the importance of being honest and real. It is this anecdote that always stuck with me. To me, it summarizes her message. She quotes Elwood P. Dowd from the play, Harvey:

… My mother used to say to me, ‘In this world, Elwood, you must be oh so smart or oh so pleasant.’ For years I was smart. I recommend pleasant. You may quote me.”




Barbara Walters Quote: abcnews.com
How to Talk with Practically Anybody About Practically Anything: Doubleday & Company, Inc. (1970)

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