The Adventures of Maer Roshan, Editorial Boy Wonder

The former Radar editor bounces back from rehab with a new website, The Fix, and a top-secret iPad project called Punch.

Mr. Roshan has always had a soft spot for “damaged-wing birds,” as Mr. Tennant put it. And in the latter days of Radar, he was well on his way to becoming one of them himself.

“You’re going to tell the steak story, aren’t you,” he declared one afternoon last month as we walked down Broadway toward Union Square.

“Probably,” I replied. “It’s kind of a funny story.”

The steak story, on reflection, isn’t all that funny. Basically, sometime in 2008, Maer and I went out to lunch at the Palm on Second Avenue. He hadn’t been himself. His skin looked yellow. He’d had a break up with his boyfriend, Matt, who’d refused to see him anymore until he got sober, and he was having bouts of paranoia, raving that Matt was secretly draining his bank account, which nobody who knew either of them believed for a second. My goal was to try to persuade Maer to quit Radar—to become a figurehead, go get well, and allow me to take over the magazine. I was looking out for him, but also for myself. It was complicated.

He promised to think about the idea. And then he looked down and declared that his steak was … moving. “No, seriously,” he insisted. “My God, look at that.”

Entering Union Square Park, we grabbed an empty bench on the west side.

“Whatever,” he said. “Just don’t make it your lede. And you might note that hallucination was a side-effect of Klonopin, which my doctor prescribed.”

“Okay, but you’re actually not my editor on this,” I taunted.

“Thank God!” he said with a hearty laugh.

Mr. Roshan was going to be late for an interview with The New York Times, but first he had something to show me. He pulled an iPad out of his satchel. He wanted to give me a taste of his latest project, a tablet magazine called Punch, after the satirical British weekly. The project’s partners include Dany Levy, the creator of DailyCandy, David Bennahum, ceo of the American Independent News Network, and designer Luke Hayman, of Pentagram, who was responsible for the last redesign of Radar.

Whether Punch would be a monthly with a daily component or a series of individual apps was up in the air. But Mr. Roshan, who has taken quite a few meetings with investors over the years, was at it again. Most of the major publishers in town had seen it and were impressed. Mr. Roshan was hopeful. Hamburgers actually fall from the sky more often than people think.

“You’re going to love this,” he said excitedly, punching at the touch-screen and loading up a feature about drunk driving Hollywood celebrities. “Pick a star,” he prompted. The options were Lindsay Lohan, Mel Gibson, Britney Spears and Charlie Sheen. I chose Lindsay, and her face appeared in the rear view mirror. He selected a car for her; then he “picked her poison.”

“Now she drives drive home through LA and tries not to hit any pedestrians,” he explained.

Punch looked awesome—by far the best iPad magazine I’d seen, and probably what Radar was always supposed to be. Still, I wondered what the recovery community would think of the game.

He took a deep breath. “That will be interesting,” he said. “But you know, I never really wanted to be a poster child for alcoholism. The Fix is a project that needed to be done, but it’s not my life’s calling. I don’t really see myself on Oprah’s couch, do you?”

Mr. Roshan cracked up. Then he added, “Is this not the fucking coolest thing ever?” and he tapped the gas.


The Adventures of Maer Roshan, Editorial Boy Wonder