Helen Gurley Brown
  • Helen Gurley Brown

The trouble with good taste is that there’s nothing much to say about it, and with bad taste that there’s nothing much to say beyond “ugh!”

So credit is due Margalit Fox of the New York Times for a page-one obituary of Helen Gurley Brown that teetered on the edge of the pit. My brother-in-law Paul Perri spotted it during a family vacation and read Fox’s lead out loud. The first paragraph concluded:

“[Brown] was 90, though parts of her were considerably younger.”

Was the obit signed? I wondered. That sort of flippancy would be remarkable indeed in an uncredited wire-service story.

It was.

Was it snarky throughout? For it would have been a horrendous misjudgment to write dismissively of the editor who reinvented Cosmopolitan magazine and reoriented sexual freedom from academia to suburbia.

It wasn’t. It was detailed, chatty, and respectful.