Nineteen-year-old Peaches Geldof is a pretty girl, often a bit too made-up, who hasn’t had to work very hard thus far in her life. She has surfed through her teens on daily tabloid headlines in the UK, renewing and clarifying her fame with fresh antics. Like many extremely rich young people with slightly cracked upbringings in the spotlight — Geldof’s father is pop humanitarian/career Pigpen/Boomtown Rat Bob, her mother Paula Yates, a brassy and missed TV presenter who died from a heroin overdose in 2000 — Peaches is prone to doing impulsive and screwy things: buying coke on camera; ping-pong dating a kaleidoscope of rockers who looked funny on her arm; the inevitable whirlwind romance (with Max Drummey, he of the seemingly kiddie-band Chester French) followed by the Vegas wedding. Peaches lives in Williamsburg now, closer to her hubby of four months.
Geldof is proud to have a ton of opinions and taste, so much so that she is now the Editor-at-Large and God voice of Disappear Here, a glossy young person’s lifestyle magazine whose free and ad-free Issue 0 dropped in a smattering of hip venues in Brooklyn and the LES last weekend. ‘Things We Love’ is the theme of the issue, allowing about half of the content to be lists, charts, and quickie interviews: appetizer portions of ideas. George Plimpton she’s not, but the magazine gleefully encourages her piercing precocity. Vulgar, clueless rhetoric blankets the scene. It is best to consider John McCain, we learn, “naked, [with] every last one of his orifices stuffed with dough by someone much bigger and domineering than himself.” Or, in a reflective mood: “What a year it’s been for the Grim Reaper […] Ledger’s lifeless and Newman is no more. Even Isaac Bloody Hayes has snuffed it, and he’s a Scientologist. They’re not meant to die.”
The fashion stories and features — Polaroid, Vivienne Westwood, Pete Doherty, Norwegian teens who party very hard, innumerable insufferable buzz bands — are no fresher than anything in The Face twenty years ago, i-D ten years ago, or Vice five years ago. Visually, the magazine is absolutely chaotic, designed within an inch of its life, packed solid with doodles and axis shifts and odd ligatures, shine, and splatters. This design aesthetic of busy, bonkers freedom looked better, and actually justified its existence, in the obsessive and thorough late nineties Japanese youth-culture titles like Relax and Beikoku Ongaku.
None of this matters, of course, to Disappear Here. The whole enterprise shouts for an existence above the realm of accountability. Everything is so sarcastically hedged that it is impossible to know what’s felt and what’s just cool kids kidding. When opinions seem to be sincere, they’re sent out with no backup: “Wes Anderson — Filmmaking at its best”. Some things are so great you don’t even need to be that interested in understanding them: “Paul Wall is our Chop and Screw hero. Chop Chop Chop. Screw Screw Screw. That’s what he does, and he does it fucking well.” Really? Paul Wall?
For young people dually obsessed with living outside their means and the notion of knowledge as something you collect, like baseball cards, Disappear Here is a talisman in physical form — crucially, not on the internet — that you can tuck under your arm as you gallop down Ludlow Street or Bedford Avenue. It is very worrying to think that Peaches Geldof has been led to believe her opinions count for so much. She’s just a kid, still, and deserves a better education than this. Her magazine’s young readers deserve it too.
As seasoned punk and artist Billy Childish wonderfully puts it, in the only four pages of the magazine that meant a thing to me: “you see, all those things [drugs] would be great if we were gods, then we could be in a state of orgasm the whole time. But we can’t. Not by chemical means anyway, it just doesn’t work. You can’t keep a stiff dick for that long. So you have to find other ways of engaging with the world, rather than disengaging.” — William Pym