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As you may be aware, everything is terrible. But as Charles Dickens once suggested, the worst of times are also the best of times, and that means that the suffocating navel-gazing of social media and mind-numbing influencerenza epidemic are pushing some people to do new and weird things—like create the New York underground-ish newspaper Civilization. Now on its third issue, Civilization was launched in April 2018 by journalist and advertising exec Richard Turley and Lucas Mascatello, a branding consultant and artist whose credentials—let’s just get it out of the way—include working with K-HOLE, the trend forecasting-cum-art project that coined “normcore.”

After working in print media “my entire life,” said Turley in a phone interview, “One January morning, I think, I kind of woke up and just thought, ‘Fuck it, I want do to a newspaper, I want to do my own.’ Which I’d never really done before; I just designed things. So I started sketching it out.” Mascatello had been his assistant at MTV, and “we just collaborated and then just made it, really.” He added, “There was no great plans for this thing.”

The most recent issue, released at the end of May, puts the headline “RICH. SPOILED. TRAGIC.” next to a squishy, cartoon putti in Converse, sobbing and masturbating into a mirror; an exact copy of the magazine getting the cover star off lies just below—a Droste effect for the mini-renaissance taking place in print as people resist the pull of social media. Its contributors list includes art and fashion adjacent figures like Carly Busta, Aria Dean, Sybil Prentice: “some boys, a few girls, an infamous agent, a famous stylist,” in the paper’s parlance. The headlines gleefully ape the insipid tones of both the National Inquirer (“I’m Too Beautiful To Die”) and most websites (“I saw the hot duck in Central Park before anyone else, like three hours after the articles first came out about it online”). And inside, in a haphazard but pretty legible jumble, are things like an interview with legendary hip-hop photographer Eric Johnson, a chart outlining how many pounds fellow gym-goers are lifting (“Fat white hipster 45 lbs”), a conversation with filmmaker Amos Poe, and an imagined discussion between the Kennedy men on the yacht-bound love triangle between sisters Jackie Kennedy and Lee Bouvier and Greek shipping magnate Aristotle Onassis.

“I think of Civilization in a number of different ways,” Mascatello said in a separate phone call. “On one level, it’s a very personal project for myself and for Richard, because it’s semi-autobiographical. But on another level, it’s kind of like, an open-source ledge for people’s thoughts and anxieties that are maybe too vile, or underbaked, or messy for other outlets.”

The newspaper, which is available here and there downtown—at stores like Casa Magazines, McNally Jackson, and Printed Matter—found itself suddenly more front and center when it appeared as a major motif in Junya Watanabe’s Spring 2020 menswear show in Paris on Friday morning.


Article written by Rachel Tashjian #GQ