In this week’s New Yorker

February 6, 2016

elif batuman illo by anna parini
You know me, I’m a huge fan of the New Yorker. But in the current anniversary issue, there’s a Personal History essay, “Cover Story” by Elif Batuman, that really captivated me so much that I’d like to convene a salon to read it aloud and discuss it. Batuman is a young (38-year-old) writer who grew up in a non-religious Turkish family. Her parents benefited from Ataturk’s establishment of a secular Turkish Republic. While living in Istanbul reporting for the New Yorker, in 2011 Batuman traveled to a rural area in southeastern Anatolia to report on an archaeological site. She found the locals unfriendly to an English-speaking non-religious woman. Then one day by chance she wore a hijab (head scarf) all day long, and her experience changed dramatically, which led her to consider a series of deep, profound, searching questions about meaning, purpose, journalism, religion, and freedom. Check it out and let me know what you think.

Elsewhere in the issue:

  • charming Talk of the Town pieces about Supreme Court justice Sonia Sotomayor and magician/collector/author Ricky Jay;
  • “The Bouvier Affair,” a long riveting report by Sam Knight about the hidden-in-plain-sight world of high-end art storage and the intersection of dealers, collectors, artists, and the people who handle framing, transporting, and storing artwork for Russian oligarchs and other one-percenters;
  • “Putin’s Dragon,” Joshua Yaffa’s piece about the ruler of Chechnya that I had to force myself to finish reading because it was important but also sickening and infuriating;
  • “Forced Out,” a sad compelling story by Matthew Desmond about eviction as a way of life in a poor Milwaukee neighborhood;
  • Hilton Als’s deft Critic at Large essay about hip-hop DJ/producer Madlib; and
  • James Wood’s intriguing review of two new novels by gay American expats in Europe, Garth Greenwell’s What Belongs to You and Darryl Pinckney’s Black Deutschland.

There are also a couple of big duds in the issue. Patricia Marx, the often-droll shopping correspondent, writes about high-tech sleep gadgets in a way that shows off her quippiness but doesn’t actually convey anything that would be helpful to someone looking for effective sleep aids. And despite his status as a fiction superstar these days, George Saunders left me cold with his story “Mother’s Day.”

I’ve been gobbling up every episode of The New Yorker Radio Hour, the hour-long podcast hosted by editor-in-chief David Remnick — nonstop good stuff. I can’t believe how much I’m looking forward to next week’s show, which focuses on Laura Poitras (the exceptional documentary filmmaker whose art show, “Astro Noise,” just opened at the Whitney Museum) and the local jazz players whom David Bowie hired to play on his final album, Blackstar.


Photo diary: January miscellany

January 30, 2016

(click photos to enlarge)

1-1 full fowering amaryllis1-2 help wanted oui non hdr1-21 crane longshot1-21 crane closeup1-21 good seed1-22 emoji billboard1-22 trophy tableau1-23 35th street snow blanket1-23 snow day window screen1-24 crane in snow 21-24 deck in snow1-24 snow deck invert heatmap1-24 icy window


Playlist: iPod shuffle, 1/27/16

January 28, 2016

“The Girl from Back Then,” Kings of Convenience
“Ridin’ in my Car,” She and Him
“Alison,” Elvis Costello
“Rush Minute,” Massive Attack
“Pilgrimage to Change,” Phil Roy
“O…Saya,” Slumdog Millionaire OST
“Navy Cut,” Calexico
“That’s Amore,” Dean Martin
“Gold (A Capella),” Once: A New Musical OCR
“Griffith Park (2800 e. Observatory Ave.),” Gabriel Kahane
“Animal,” Neon Trees
“Saved,” Gord Downie, the Sadies, and the Conquering Sun
“Acorn Factory,” the Dodos
“In the Pavilion,” Bob Telson and Little Village
“If You Fall,” Azure Ray
“It Took a Long Time,” LaBelle
“Union Station (800 N. Alameda St.),” Gabriel Kahane
“A Thousand Kisses Deep,” Leonard Cohen
“Quicksand,” Bjork
“Hot Like Fire,” the XX
“Slinky Thing,” Donald Fagen
“Crystalline,” Bjork
“I Can Get Love,” Toro Y Moi

toro-y-moi-freaking-out


Quote of the day: NAKED

January 28, 2016

NAKED

To be naked is to be oneself. To be nude is to be seen naked by others and yet not recognized for oneself. A naked body has to be seen as an object in order to become a nude….Nudity is a form of dress. The nude is condemned to never being naked.

–John Berger

naked


Culture Vulture/Photo diary: the Whitney with Bob and Phil, GO FORTH with Keith Hennessy, Laurie Anderson’s Midnight Moment

January 27, 2016

(click photos to enlarge)

1.2.16 Andy and I started the new year by having brunch with our friends Bob and Phil at Blenheim in the West Village then moseying over to the Whitney Museum. Bob and Phil had not experienced the new building before, so we walked through the Frank Stella show (eh), donations from the Thea and Ethan Wagner collection, and the Archibald Motley show before settling down to watch Rachel Rose’s mesmerizing 12-minute video “Everything and More.”

1-2 bob mower1-2 phil hayes1-2 alfonso ossorio number 140151-2 jacob lawrence depression detail0171-2 motley lawd my mans leavin detail0191-2 guys on the stairs

1.7.16 Keith Hennessy made his annual visit to New York to participate in the American Realness festival, performing a duet with Jassem Hindi (future friend/ships) and directing his former colleague and mentor Sara Shelton Mann in a valedictory performance called Sara the Smuggler. On his off night, we checked out a show in P.S. 122’s COIL Festival, Go Forth, the directorial debut of Kaneza Schaal, the extraordinary actress who performs with Elevator Repair Service and the Wooster Group. It was an ambitious, dramaturgically complicated piece based on Egyptian funerary texts that didn’t entirely land with me. But I very much admired the photographic installation (by Christopher Myers) that hung along the hallway leading to Westbeth’s intriguingly raw, crypt-like performance space. And who doesn’t enjoy having a free beer handed to you in the midst of a show?

1-7 go forth photo plus keith1-7 go forth negative confessions1-7 truth justice cosmic order1-8 harlem beer

1.12.16 After dinner at La Carafe on Ninth Avenue, Andy and I and David Zinn swung by Times Square to sip hot cider and witness Laurie Anderson’s Midnight Moment. For the month of January, 54 of the 10 zillion LED screens in the heart of the theater district flashed three minutes of Laurie’s film Heart of a Dog at 11:57, thanks to Sherry Ridion Dobbin and Times Square Arts.

1-12 dz and aew1-12 laurie in tsq1-12 midnight moment

 


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