I subscribe to The New Yorker magazine. Some might consider that to be a confession. Others might consider it a hopeful sign that I have some degree of sophistication. To the latter group, I say, "Don't get your hopes up." The reality is that I like their cartoons. If the rest of the magazine were blank, I'd still subscribe. Okay, occasionally I read one of their articles if I've got time and it's not too long. I get The New Yorker to be entertained, and I don't like taking a long time to achieve that. If I want literature, I read a book. For news I read the Wall Street Journal and Newsweek. The only news in The New Yorker is about New York, and I couldn't care less about it because The New Yorker is out of touch with life as the rest of the world knows it.

The latest evidence that The New Yorker is out of touch with the rest of the world is in their fashion advertising, and most notably the magazine supplement included with their September 3rd issue, "Fashion Rocks." The term "fashion" refers to the prevailing style of a culture or time. Most of what is presented as fashion in this supplement is not anything the rest of civilization is likely to encounter during a lifetime.

Of course if you have tattoos and piercings all over your body or hang out at the mall to show off your spiked orange hair and punk outfit, then you are doing your part to shock the rest of the world. Congratulations! But unless you want to be homeless or working at Spencer's Gifts when you are 50, you are in serious need of some marketable talent. Otherwise you need to get back to reality and make a reasonable effort not to look like a societal wart. Unfortunately if this describes you, you're probably not reading this – or anything else for that matter.

Many of the magazine's "fashions" are outfits that normal people would only wear on Halloween. The only socially acceptible looking clothes I saw were two young men (there are no old men in this magazine) in a Tommy Hilfiger ad wearing black dress suits and ties. But the fact that the two men were fly-fishing in the surf was bizarre. It might have been a good ad for fishing rods and reels except for the fact that you don't fly fish in ocean surf, and certainly not while wearing a suit and tie.

Much of the magazine portrayed celebrities (young of course) making fashion statements much like the Hip Hop group, Black Eyed Peas, in this photo. If everyone dressed like the Black Eyed Peas, then I'm not sure how such celebrities would dress in order to distinguish themselves. Perhaps they would dress like Wal-Mart shoppers do now.

It appears that "fashion" and "style" these days, and perhaps in other days, has different definitions depending one's occupation. Rappers have a style, punk musicians have a style, surfers have a style, cowboys have a style, monks have a style, and bikers have a style. If you are not in one of the many occupations or cultures that have a distinctive style, then I highly recommend that you not try to look like them. If you do look like them, you are not being fashionable. All you are doing is telling people that this is the only way you can distinguish yourself. It's like dressing up a toad. People are more apt to notice the toad, but it's still a toad.

Spiked hair, tattoos, piercings, pants down to your thighs, outrageous colors, intentionally untied shoes, bones in your nose, or whatever you do to get attention, does not mean you are making a fashion statement. It means you are having an identity crisis. Rather than hiding your lack of substance, it celebrates it.