Not the most exciting issue in recent history. I’m not sure why, but I read every word of Dexter Filkins’ depressing forecast of Afghanistan after American troops pull out, Mavis Gallant’s diaries from May and June of 1950 (when the 28-year-old writer sat around in Spain working on a novel and starving while waiting for checks to arrive from selling two stories to The New Yorker), Nathan Heller’s openly snarky feature on the TED talk phenomenon, Anthony Lane’s hilarious review of The Amazing Spider-Man, and enough of Emily Nussbaum’s rave review of the new season of Louie to know that I can’t wait to see it. Joel Stein’s Shouts & Murmurs piece takes a dubious cliche of a joke idea (the pretentious waiter-spiel) and makes something pretty funny out of it.
But I’d like to take a moment to point out the almost ridiculously hip and knowing, expertly succinct good writing that shows up in the New Yorker’s music listings. Prime example:
289 Kent Ave., between S. 1st and S. 2nd Sts., Brooklyn, N.Y. (No phone) — TJ Cowgill is the heavily tattooed founder and creative director of Actual Pain, a voguish Seattle clothing label that fuses urban streetwear aesthetics with vaguely pagan symbols: upside-down crosses, pentagrams, or any non-threateningly occultish emblem that will force a reaction from the wearers’ parents. Cowgill also leads two bands, the death-metal outfit Book of Black Earth and King Dude, a slightly more accessible (though similarly bleak) neo-folk solo project, which is here on July 5. Opening for Cowgill, with his brand of stark, haunting Americana, is Røsenkøpf, a promising local trio that layers screeching, wounded vocals atop cold, industrial electronica.”