Tuesday, March 24, 2015

A Look at the New Yorker's Fifth Issue

The New Yorker's fifth cover of March 21, 1925 is the first to feature the City's spectacular skyline. From our rooftop vantage point, we see a couple, their hats off, enjoying the mild spring weather and taking in the scenery. They are joined by a couple of stray cats. This is a romantic image intended to be a crowd-pleaser. Yet it is Carl Fornaro's only New Yorker cover.
Carl Fornaro, The New Yorker, March 21, 1925
Carl Fornaro is better known as Carlo de Fornaro. Did the New Yorker ask him to anglicize his name? Here's his 1902 caricature of John Jacob Astor from the Smithsonian:
Carlo de Fornaro, John Jacob Astor, Relief print on paper, 1902
National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution

The New Yorker's "The Talk of the Town" section appears once again right below the masthead. The impressive Advisory Editors remain in place, but what on earth are they advising? The "Talk" piece on the Prohiibition Authority is all but unreadable, as is most of the 32 page  magazine.
"The Talk of the Town"
Pan appeared, it will be remembered, on the March 14 cover welcoming in the spring. Here the welcome continues as a piping Pan is joined by other perennial signs of spring: blooming tulips, a budding tree, and a sleeveless flapper .

This note on the Kit Kat Ball dismisses the social affair as bland compared with how artsy it was in the old days, and describes some of the participants as "great hearts from Dubuque, and the inevitable man from Yonkers." The ongoing reference to editor Harold Ross's "old lady in Dubuque" comment, the elderly archetype for whom the New Yorker is decidedly not edited, surely means Ross thinks he has a winning catch-phrase here. The reference is coupled with "the inevitable man from Yonkers" just in case we don't get the point, and to ensure that there are more out-of-town "types" New Yorkers can feel superior to.

Yet Reginald Marsh depicts that very same Kit Kat Ball as a scene of utter mayhem. There seems to be a disconnect between the editorial and the artistic coverage of the event, with a half-hearted attempt to bridge the gap by labeling Marsh's spread "An Impression." Mislabeling the event the Good Bad Ball is a reference to the play "A Good Bad Woman" which was cited often in the contemporary censorship debate.
Reginald Marsh, The Kit Kat (or the Good Bad) Ball--An Impression

 A spot drawing captures the bustling vitality of the sidewalk.

John F. Hylan, a Democrat, has been the Mayor of New York since 1918. He will leave office at the end of 1925. Today Hylan Boulevard, a major thoroughfare in Staten Island, is named for him.
Miguel Covarrubias, Sketch of the New Monument Proposed by The Interest for City Hall Park,
"Mr. Hylan Takes a Stand"

"Of All Things" starts with a play on words about selling New York.

Umbrella thief:

Ross is on the defensive again, defending the magazine's intensive coverage of the New York World's campaign to clean up the theatre. He is also defending himself regarding his comments about the old lady in Dubuque. He seems to keep spoiling for a fight, willing to irritate countless Iowans in order to illustrate that his magazine is for a more sophisticated, cosmopolitan audience.

W. Heath Robinson's tonic to increase your weight has the desired effect on arachnids. This is a rather unpleasant gag, no?
W. Heath Robinson, The New Tonic for Those Who Are Losing Weight

For the "Profiles" page, Hans Stengel illustrates Arthur Hopkins.
"Profiles:  A Timid Little Man"
Illustration of Arthur Hopkins by Hans Stengel
Many of these names are still familiar:

Eugene Speicher is the art world luminary profiled in the New Yorker's second issue.
Here's how the painting turned out:
Eugene Speicher, Katharine Cornell
Sinclair Lewis's novel "Arrowsmith" is reviewed in this issue.

Al Smith was the Democratic Governor of New York. He would run for President in 1928 against Republican Herbert Hoover. If you don't know how that turned out, see me after class.

Heywood Broun's resignation from the New York World was the subject of much editorial commentary in The New Yorker's third issue. Broun is a friend of Ross's from the Algonquin Round Table crowd.

W. E. Heitland's one cartoon isn't a cartoon at all. It's a story illustration.
W. E. Heitland, "I've Got to Have Fifty Cases To-night.  Got 'Em Promised to a Guy in Hartford"

"Story of Manhattankind" continues. So do the "Lyrics from the Pekinese." Someone should retire these features.
Rea Irvin[?], Mermaid

The big controversy over the theatre censorship championed by the New York World has ended, apparently, with a whimper. The "big emotional upheaval" at the World must be the death of Joseph Pulitzer's wife following an automobile accident.
"The Theatre"

A page entitled "And They Do Say" has hit-or-miss humor that is mostly miss.

Ralph Barton's theatre piece is illustrates two different shows. The artist's words, with contrasting uses of "bear up" and "bearing down," shows more originality than most of the writing in the issue.
Ralph Barton, Idyllic Moments from the Current Theatre
Miss Doris Keane and Mr. Leon Errol Stub Their Several Toes

Cover artist Carl Fornaro also provides a caricature of composer Igor Stravinsky on the "Music" page.
Carl Fornaro, Igor Stravinsky

The "Goings On" page remains informative. Capsule reviews for the longer-running plays have been rewritten for this issue. Katharine Cornell is leaving "Candida," but as noted above she will have her portrait painted by Eugene Speicher. Alfred Lunt and Lynn Fontanne may be seen together in "The Guardsman." Al Jolson and Fanny Brice are still in town (not shown). Elie Nadleman's sculptures are on view in a gallery. Most intriguing of all, Rachmaninoff is playing at Carnegie Hall.
"Goings On"

A musical spot drawing...
Spot Drawing

"The Optimist" is repeated yet again, an irrelevant snippet of text made all the more pointless by being reprinted over and over. But perhaps that's the point. Eldon Kelley's cartoon exposes the truth about glamorous transatlantic voyages when the press cameras aren't present.
Eldon Kelley, The Actress:  A Mid-ocean Snapshot and a Dockside Pose for Camera Men

Gus Mager's first New Yorker cartoon takes us on a journey through a cavernous Penn Station completed just 15 years earlier. (This incarnation of Penn Station was demolished in 1963 and replaced with a new Penn Station which opened in 1968 topped by Madison Square Garden. Plans are today being considered to relocate Madison Square Garden in preparation for a brand new Penn Station. I hope you're taking notes.)
Gus Mager, Mammoth Cave Guide Lost in the Subway

It's just possible the New Yorker's target audience was college-age men.
Eldon Kelley, A Bedtime Story
The Radio--"Oh Look!  The Bunny Brings the Easter Eggs"

The late Anna Held was a Ziegfeld showgirl and the impresario's common-law wife. Mabel Taliaferro appeared in "Polly of the Circus" on stage in 1908. (She was not in the 1917 movie of the same name.)

The following short notices are so slight they hardly merit publication. F. P. A. is Franklin P. Adams, writer of the newspaper column "The Conning Tower." Both he and Ross were members of the Algonquin Round Table, and the first item could certainly be a report of a short telephone conversation they had. The minor anecdote about Richard Simon may also involve Ross or another member of the editorial staff. The note on the Macy's sign is not the sort of writing that can sustain a magazine for any duration. F. Scott Fitzgerald's short story "Bernice Bobs Her Hair" was published in the Saturday Evening Post five years earlier. Hair bobbing is still the fashion apparently.

Ross is using more by-lines now. This short piece is by the humorist Corey Ford, friend to several members of the Algonquin Round Table. There is lots of writerly namedropping here: Heywood Broun, Robert Benchley, Alexander Woollcott, and Franklin P. Adams-- all, like Ross, members of the Algonquin Round Table. Nevertheless, there is not much reward for reading this short piece all the way through. Corey Ford will later give the name Eustace Tilley to that fine dandy presiding over the masthead who was featured on the cover of the first issue. 

In the "Books" section, the New Yorker reviews Arrowsmith, the novel by Sinclair Lewis. It was to win the 1926 Pulitzer Prize, which Lewis refused.

 The last words include a final reprise about the old lady in Dubuque:

Note:  Did you happen to catch how the New Yorker welcomed the spring of 1925? Join me for A Look at the New Yorker's Fourth Issue.

Cover illustrator Carl Fornaro may be the same person as Carlo de Fornaro. but he isn't at all the same as Alfred Frueh. That's today's lesson for the Condé Nast Collection, which somehow credits Fornaro with Frueh's police scooter cover from the second issue.
Carl Fornaro Prints at the Condé Nast Collection

Finally, this blog offers you the chance to see what Penn Station cartoonist Gus Mager received from the great George Herriman in December of 1943.


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