The Gonz Show: Extended
Following two years of tinkering, 02138—the glossy for the Harvard sensibility—made a predictably impressive premiere. But the real test comes when you’re required to crank out issues on deadline. With the second rolling out this month, we caught up with co-creator Bom Kim.
Q: The masthead says you’re the President and Founder. Do you edit much, or are you more of a decision maker and businessman?
A:Along with Dan Loss, my co-founder, we’ve been involved with the edit side—the vision, the tone, getting the editorial things right, generating ideas, we’re involved at all levels. Our principle priority on the edit side is trying to strike the right balance and solidify our editorial voice.
Q: As I understand it, you had about two years to put the first issue out. That sounds like a long time, but I imagine it’s difficult to put the staff together from scratch.
A:Finding talent, a talented supporting staff, was a challenge and a critical part of the magazine. Fundraising was a big part of it, too. Getting a sense from the audience and the advertising market about what they were looking for was important and a part of the equation.
Q: Dude, I heard you tried to hire everyone in town… except for me. So, um, anything you want to apologize for?
A: (LAUGHS). Boston magazine is a great place to work…We didn’t want to waste our time trying to steal you away.
Q: You started a mag called 02138, but the office is in 02114. Next, I think you ought to start a magazine called Kuala Lumpur that’s based out of Schenectady.
A: Our goal, our intent, in naming it 02138, wasn’t to focus or signal that we’d be all about that zip code. It’s more about what we share in common, our sensibility, our passion in each other.
Q: Seriously, have you found it difficult to write only about Harvard or its grads? Because aside from the occasional plagiarist, how do you fill an entire magazine?
A:There’s a lot to draw from in that well. Stories to celebrate. Embarrassing stories. Harvard people involved in moving and shaking events. Harvard stories that are inspirational. Stories that people can take a little schadenfraude in…
Q: I love that word…
A: (Ignores me, keeps going)…we want to focus on stories, too, that are important to the community as well. Those are stories that we’re interested in. We want to balance the entertainment and the irreverence with serious reporting.
Q: It sounds like we’re missing something here. Got any 02138 ideas I can steal? Or if you just want to write something up for me, I’ll switch out the bylines. It would save me so much time.
A: (Laughs). We turn to Boston magazine for our ideas…
Q: At least I know someone is reading my stuff—it’s like you and my mom. Now, about your top 100 list: you have Ned Lamont 18th. He bought the primary, now he’s going to lose the general. But you have Barrack Obama 50. 50! And he might be president.
A:The approach—we didn’t look at the Harvard 100 as an opportunity for lifetime achievement awards. The timeframe was really the last year or so and who has made the most ripples and the greatest impact. Certainly Obama in recent weeks has made more news. But in this election cycle, Lamont has signaled a shift in the political landscape and made ripples felt by many different elections and campaigns across the country. It’s a list that we debated until the very last day. We spoke with journalists and people who were experts in various fields. At the end of the day, there was a heavy dose of subjective judgment. These are 100 fascinating members of the community, and the list stokes competitive fires for some, and it’s fodder for intellectual debate for others.
Q: I’d like to compliment you on your selection of Rasida Jones as your inaugural cover girl. An inspired choice. (She’s totally hot.)
A:Rashida Jones is one of the people we profiled in our section called Rising. She’s emerging as a star. She’s a star in the more traditional Hollywood sense as well. But our decision to put her on the cover signaled to the audience that we wouldn’t be predictable—–that we’re presenting a new, bold way to look at ourselves and the community. Like Rashida Jones, we’re not just flashy on the outside. There’s an elegance inside.
Q: How much harder was it to put out a magazine in two months as opposed to two years? Any issues you didn’t anticipate?
A:It’s been more difficult in some ways and easier in others. Easier in that we’ve gone through the cycle with this staff already. More challenging in that we spent a lot of time thinking about the first issue and the Harvard 100, and now, with not having the lead time, not having the time to fully absorb reaction to the first issue or to digest it ourselves, it’s challenging to jump right back into it. It’s still energizing and a lot of fun. Some of the stories are more exciting this time around.
Q: What are you more excited about this time?
A:We have a feature about power couples that highlights more prominent couples who are dealing with real issues and real aspects of marriage and love. It has depth as well as glitz. We have… I’m not sure how much to divulge.
Q: I promise to forget as soon as I hang up.
A: (Laughs) We have columns by prominent members of the community. Oh, and we have a photo essay that looks at China through the lenses of a Harvard grad.
Q: Who’s on the December cover?
A: That will remain more under wraps until close of the issue.
Q: I understand. Let’s talk about April. I have an idea: You should put someone from Yale on the cover—throw the curve when they’re looking fastball, you know? Maybe Bronson Pinchot. He actually went there.
Q: Really, you got nothing for me? I think I’m a visionary.
A: (Courtesy laugh). We’ll take that into consideration.