That I don’t understand all of the fuss about Target usurping the New Yorker‘s ad pages this week must mean that I’m part of the problem. And it would, in fact, be less than honest to deny that I’m a passionate fan of the place. Terry can personally attest to this: before I owned a car, he used to rent one when visiting Chicago and always, but always, cheerfully acceded to my pleas to be driven to Target in said rental during his stay. That, dear readers, is a true blue friend.
But, personal shopping preferences aside, exactly what is it about the infernal New Yorker-Target alliance that is raising so many eyebrows? Is it simply the purchased exclusivity, or is it something about Target being the purchaser? Again, I have a hard time wrapping my mind around the notion that anyone would regard Target as less than sublime. But even if I didn’t harbor this deep bias, I think I’d still be a lot more disturbed/bemused by, say, those frequently turgid theme issues of the NYer that have seemed so to proliferate over the past few years, and so many of which seem designed to lure ad dollars as much as to lure readers. In these cases the line separating editorial integrity from the bottom line begins to look perilously thin. As far as I can tell, the Target discomfort doesn’t have anything to do with fears about the contamination of the editorial side of the magazine–or if it does, they haven’t been aired out. So what’s the hubbub, bub? What am I missing?
P.S. This isn’t an isolated incident of Target-targeting animus, either. Earlier this summer I attended a Chicago architecture event where it was mentioned that a Target may open in the historic Carson, Pirie, Scott Building. I was startled when a large contingent of the audience hissed at the news as though they’d heard that a Wal-Mart was opening in Robie House. Sure, it would be grand if Carson Pirie Scott could live on forever in the great building named for it, but at least we’re talking apples and apples; one retailer replacing another hardly seems grounds for a hissy fit. Is the Dayton Company, which owns Target, worse than Saks, which owns Carson (but is trying to sell it)? Related: a few years back, Bloomingdale’s moved its Chicago home store into the abandoned Medinah Temple, thereby saving the building from being condemned. So the place where Terry and I once attended an earth-shattering performance of Mahler’s Symphony of a Thousand is relegated to retail now–but at least it’s still standing, and has even received some loving restoration. Is that all bad?