Vibe Magazine Suffers a Break-In

The offices of Vibe magazine suffered a break-in during the evening of Sept. 28, but the robbers didn’t avail themselves of the piles of CDs and complimentary Wu Wear. Instead, they concentrated on the office files and computer servers, leaving police and staff convinced that the burglary was one of industrial espionage.

“The nature of the stuff that was taken was more business-oriented than hitting an office for money’s sake,” said Keith Clinkscales, president and chief executive officer of Vibe and a partner in Spin .

The burglars passed over almost all the CDs, laptop computers, clothes and other pop culture paraphernalia sitting in Vibe ‘s Lexington Avenue offices. What they did take was business files-earnings projections of Vibe and Spin , personnel files and sensitive business information-from Mr. Clinkscales’ office. They also ransacked another corner office and took several of the magazine’s computer servers. The thieves took a few CD players and a pair of Nikes, leading some Vibe employees to speculate those goods were stolen as a cover. The value of the stolen goods is roughly $20,000 to $25,000, one source said. A Vibe spokeswoman said a total tally has yet to be tabulated and that police have yet to finish their investigation.

Convinced that The Village Voice killed a story about a Feminists for Freedom of Expression benefit because of a longstanding vendetta against her, one-woman socio-academic wrecking ball Camille Paglia is now leveling charges of censorship against the alternative paper.

Ms. Paglia was one of the star attractions-along with drag queens, assorted fetishists and icons of sexual free expression-at the event, held on Sept. 27 at Club Mother down in the Meat Packing District. Jennifer Kornreich, a freelance writer who’s also a sex columnist for the Long Island Voice , handed in her article on Sept. 29 as deadline loomed. All seemed fine, but about an hour after she filed, the call came: The piece was being spiked, for reasons unknown.

Ms. Paglia thinks she knows why the story was killed. Hear her roar: “Give me a break! Come on! The point is, I was coming off in too much of a positive light.”

“She’s wrong,” came the terse yet bemused response from Voice editor in chief Don Forst, who declined to elaborate on the paper’s internal editorial decisions.

Ms. Paglia, however, would not be dissuaded. “Fasten your seat belts,” she cautioned Off the Record before launching into her 45-minute tirade. ” The Village Voice is now run by pasty-faced, bourgeois liberals, the worst kind of New York downtown clique. They are a bunch of dinosaurs. And they have been maliciously attacking me since I arrived on the scene in 1990. But here is the terrible irony: I am a child of the great Village Voice . I’m talking about the 1960’s, the early 1970’s. This is the terrible tragedy of what’s happened to the American Left. If you want to see a good example of the collapse of leftism, here it is: that The Village Voice was not able to recognize its own child.”

The free speech she champions, the establishment she rails against-these, to her, are the touchstones of that time, and a legacy she feels The Voice ‘s editors have forsaken.

“They are apologists for the academic establishment, for the embezzlers and the extortionists and the ripoff artists of the poststructuralist, postmodernist, feminist theorist establishment, which is ruining the minds of generation after generation now of young people,” Ms. Paglia said.

“These people at The Voice , they make me sick ,” she added. “They think that they speak for the People. That’s the pretension they have, these old-guard leftists: We speak for the People. We are populists. Oh, bullshit, they’re populists. They’re a bunch of little cocktail glass-clinking people; they’re just in a ghetto, a downtown ghetto. It makes me nauseous when I have to visit New York.”

Ms. Paglia’s strong feelings about The Voice have almost been a touchstone of the 1990’s themselves. Things got so bad back in 1992 that, believing a writer’s rendition of her views painted her as a racist, she got her lawyer on the case. “We intend to show that The Village Voice , over the past two years, in a blatant pattern of malicious slander against Professor Paglia and with reckless disregard for the truth, has deliberately distorted her political beliefs and scholarly record in an attempt to destroy her reputation and character,” Ms. Paglia said, quoting from a letter her lawyer sent to the paper on Dec. 3, 1992.

Ms. Paglia believes that the lack of attacks on her since then in the pages of The Voice serves as proof that the letter had its desired effect, not that the writers tired of her tireless self-promotion. “Overnight, The Voice was suddenly mum about me,” she said.

Mr. Forst, who took over last October, said he knew nothing about any moratorium on all things Paglia. “I’ve never seen the letter,” said Mr. Forst, “but I think her comments indicate to me there’s a paranoia running around.”

“If Ms. Paglia had a problem with something we did, or felt it was inappropriate, why didn’t she call me?” he asked. “We’re in the book, under V.”

Teenagers’ feuds can seem spiteful, but when the publishers of the magazines they read-and their lawyers-get involved, the spats can get downright nasty. When Time Warner Inc. announced in July that it was spinning off a People for teenagers, Petersen Publishing Company-the owner of Teen-quickly countered with plans for its own magazine. And it just happened to bear the name Teen People .

Time executives were not amused, particularly since the company for more than six months had publicly said that it was considering the project. So, Time sued Petersen for trademark infringement. Petersen met that provocation with a claim of its own, demanding a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction on Aug. 28 that would block Time from using the name Teen People .

On Sept. 25, Judge Harold Baer Jr. of United States District Court in Manhattan made short work of Petersen’s legal tactics and denied the company’s motion. Petersen did not prove it will suffer “irreparable injury” to its own teen magazine or that gullible teenagers would confuse Teen People with Teen , the judge wrote. “Because Time’s logo uses the same typeface for the word ‘people’ as used on its People magazine for over 20 years, and because the logo explicitly states that Teen People is from the editors of People , it is apparent that Time has not attempted to benefit from Teen ‘s name recognition, but rather from its own People magazine’s name recognition,” Judge Baer wrote.

Petersen executives had no comment.

Yom Kippur sure is becoming a familiar holiday for Sports Illustrated executive editor Rob Fleder. Consulting his handy Sports Illustrated swimsuit desk calendar early last month, Mr. Fleder noticed that Yom Kippur fell on Thursday, Sept. 11, during the week featuring model Rebecca Romijn. So the not-very-observant editor decided to stay home and fast. Somehow, though, the calendar had goofed. This year, the Jewish Day of Atonement doesn’t arrive until … Oct. 11.

Mr. Fleder’s day off quickly joined the Sports Illustrated Anecdote Hall of Fame. “The swimsuit calendar has all my appointments and everything, and I just sort of slavishly live by it,” a sheepish Mr. Fleder said. “I’ve got to say I did think it was a little bit strange that no one else noticed that it was coming. But my calendar said it was, so I stayed home.”

That day, Mr. Fleder got a call from assistant managing editor Michael Bevans, asking what was wrong. “I told him I was staying home for the holiday and said, ‘There must be a lot of people out.’ And he said, ‘No, you’re the only one, actually.'”

Five minutes later, Mr. Bevans called back. “What holiday is it you’re celebrating?” he asked Mr. Fleder. Mr. Fleder told him Yom Kippur. Mr. Bevans then gently told his superior that, after checking with his Jewish colleagues, it was not Yom Kippur quite yet. “So I said, ‘That’s the best news I’ve heard all day. I can eat now,'” said Mr. Fleder.

Within an hour of hanging up, Mr. Fleder’s Sports Illustrated confreres began phoning him at home, heaping on the loving abuse. “When I came in the next day,” he said, “I [went] up to talk to the business guys on the 20th floor, and they said, ‘Hello, Rabbi.'”

Mr. Fleder also found on his desk an official-looking memo. This one was titled “Rob Fleder’s 1997 Religious Holiday Schedule,” courtesy of the deadpan Mr. Bevans. Each holiday comes twice, although one day has a slightly different name. Easter is paired with Keister, Hanukkah with Nannokkah, Ramadan with RamadaInn, and Yom Kippur with Tom Kippur. In each case, the ridiculously named holiday precedes the real one by a month.

“People are tormenting me, and I deserve it,” Mr. Fleder said. He does plan to fast on Oct. 11. “But I have a new motto,” he added. “Atone early, atone often.”