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Does thuggery pay? Which national advertiser will be first to sign Charles Barkley to yet another big bucks promotional deal now that he's charged with throwing a guy through a plate glass window?

Love the clean, crisp look of the current Esquire with minimal cover lines (Christy Turlington doesn't hurt, either). But here's what new Editor David Granger and Publisher Valerie Salembier are up against: their Esky carries 168 total pages: Art Cooper's and "Mad Dog" Beckman's November GQ has 482 pages.

Best front-page color shot so far for The New York Times: that Oct. 27 photo of Midwest snow with a tiny figure in yellow lost amid snowy trees. Then they dumped it in later editions for a routine shot of ballplayers jumping up and down celebrating the Marlins' World Series victory.

A handwritten note from Conde Nast's Steve Florio tells me, "It wasn't the haggis. Turned out to be strep in my blood system. Got me to stay home for three weeks. I'm OK now and on the mend." Both the haggis and I are tremendously relieved. This Thursday Florio will be keynote speaker at Audit Bureau of Circulation's 83rd annual conference at the Waldorf in N.Y.

Another rate base increase for Seventeen, the third consecutive year. In January the base goes to 2.3 million following a first half this year that saw the actual circ rise to 2,472,000. Lori Burgess says advertising's booming as well with November up 23% over the same month last year in pages and, year to date, up 7.1%.

Glamour's annual "Women of the Year" will be honored tomorrow evening at the main New York Public Library with Katie Couric doing the introduction.

Larry Burke of Outside writes re my ref to the move from Chicago to New Mexico, "Santa Fe has worked out great." Nice New York Times piece on Larry and his operation.

Publisher Doug Fierro says the November issue of Automobile was the largest advertising issue in the book's 11 years at 96 ad pages.

In Florida Laura and Stanley White, who used to be married, are headed to court in a fight over a sub to Going Bonkers?. She claims he sent her the subscription as an insult; he claims he knows nothing about the matter. Publisher Wendy Danforth of the Palm Beach-based mag has been subpoenaed.

Upside of San Mateo, Calif., celebrated its 8th anniversary with a party hosted in Manhattan by Publisher David Bunnell.

Bill O'Reilly, nightly Fox TV talk show host, must have had lots of fun doing this new novel of his, "Those Who Trespass," since it's all about bumping off top network TV correspondents and execs (is Roger Ailes among them?). Bancroft Press publishes and Bill's doing a national tour.

Do in-flight magazines work? Duncan Christy sends along the latest Sky (the Delta mag) with 200 plus total pages. And a section called "Flaveur" that's

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