By Chuck Strouse
By Scott Fishman
By Terrence McCoy
By Ryan Yousefi
By Ciara LaVelle, Kat Bein, Carolina Del Busto, and Liz Tracy
By Pepe Billete
By Ryan Yousefi
By Kyle Swenson
Some members of Miami's literati were sorry to hear about Fashion Spectrum magazine's recent demise. Not because there will be a void left by the monthly's disappearance from newsstands -- a start-up publication called Channel promises the same menu of models, bikinis, and party shots. In fact, Channel will absorb some of Fashion Spectrum's writers and editors.
No, the real reason savvy readers will miss the three-year-old journal is the "publisher's letter," which contributed greatly to Miami's prose offerings. In that regular feature, writer and publisher Franco Pizzorni revealed a thought-provoking view of the world -- and an obsession with its end. The 42-year-old Venezuelan-born, Italian-raised venture capitalist pulled the plug on Fashion Spectrum two weeks ago. He declined repeated requests from New Times for an interview about his oeuvre.
The last column Pizzorni penned, for the July/August issue, is a classic. In "Chariots of the Antichrist" he postulates that demons summoned by Satanists, rather than benign creatures from outer space, might account for UFOs. The following sample of his work manifests a literary vision seemingly inspired by the spectral ruminations of British poet William Blake: "Shortly after his nomination, Pope John Paul I expressed concern that satanic forces had infiltrated the Jesuit Order, which has for years strongly opposed the traditional doctrines of Christianity." Pizzorni then asks: "Why turn the Jesuits against the Vatican? Why 40 years of UFO sightings without open contact?" The possible answer comes a paragraph later: "We are told that UFOs don't exist, and that if they do, they must be spaceships from distant galaxies. If demonic forces are at work, these will stay hidden. If UFOlogy is to be used for religious purposes, no one is to know who is behind it."
There you have it. A welcome break from that month's other editorial offerings, which include a spread on "sleek, sexy swimsuits" and a nightlife column that tells readers about the "area's hottest clubs." Pizzorni's editorial, though thematically inconsistent with the featured "101 Reasons to Stay in Miami for the Summer," is only the latest in a long line of masterpieces. Those who have followed the author's writings know that his unique approach took years to perfect.
One can see the writer struggle with his craft in the early works. For instance, in the July 1996 issue Pizzorni seems more literal: "July is here, and we are pleased to announce that with this issue of Fashion Spectrum, our circulation has doubled to 50,000 copies." That theme reappears in November's "essence and presence" piece: "With regards to presence, our distribution currently blankets the city with 1,480 distribution points...." In March 1997 Pizzorni the writer becomes a little bolder: "Fashion Spectrum's advertising revenues for the first quarter of 1997 have already surpassed $600,000."
Then Pizzorni breaks from tradition. In November 1997's "god save the child" the publisher's concern about the coming millennium surfaces: "All the world leaders, whether elected or not, should never forget that they are here in transit, momentarily leasing whatever kingdom or government they rule...." A tongue-in-cheek approach was added in January's "predictions for 1998." It begins: "After years of soul-searching and indecision, Saddam Hussein will finally admit that he prefers the company of little boys." It ends: "Some monkeys will begin speaking this year, thus confirming Darwin's theory of evolution."
By March, like a colt who has found his legs, Pizzorni is off. He becomes more earnest, more profound: "Has civilization embarked on a suicide mission by indirectly killing its host planet?" he asks plaintively. In April his tone changes from melancholy to bizarre when he writes about "the most important discovery of our time ... [that] the first five books of the Bible are encoded with additional information that can only be accessed by the use of mathematical cryptology." The codes "reveal information on events that happened thousands of years after the Bible was written. The assassination of Anwar Sadat and John and Robert Kennedy are encoded."
As the year progresses, bizarre morphs into suspicious. In May's "Poisoned Fruit" Pizzorni asks that "the people who are maneuvering and ceaselessly working to make the world more violent and less moral should step out of the shadows and tell us who they really serve." And in June's "Red Explosive Monkeys" he contests theories of evolution (apparently a regular theme), communism, and the Big Bang.
Pizzorni's attorney, Richard Wolfe, declares that the publisher was not kidding around. He was writing about life in a lifestyle magazine. "I guess that's the creative license that comes when you write the checks," he asserts.
Channel, meanwhile, has its work cut out. Not only must it chronicle seasonal changes in swimwear, but -- if it aspires to approach the intellectual vibrancy of Fashion Spectrum -- it must, literally, reach for the stars.