In this week’s New Yorker

July 21, 2011


An especially good magazine, starting with another delightful Barry Blitt cover, and a leading editorial in Talk of the Town by George Packer — about the budget battle in Congress — that I would like to copy and circulate to every member of the freshman Republican cabal. (Does that list exist somewhere close at hand?) Actually, every piece in Talk of the Town is pretty great this week, including a rare Gay Talese item about one of those Manhattan locations that are death to restaurants. But the best of the lot is Lauren Collins’ hilarious piece about Chris Bryant, a gay Member of Parliament previously unknown to me who was one of the first to directly challenge the Murdoch empire that is now crashing down:

At Westminster Hall, Chris Bryant indulged in a moment of goofy release when asked if Murdoch, after everything that had happened, would still be able to intimidate British politicians. He held two thumbs together, forefingers up, in a W shape, and then turned them upside down: “Frankly, now it’s like ‘Whatever, Mary.’ ”

Is it because I grew up in a trailer that I read every word of Alec Wilkinson’s piece about tiny houses, “Let’s Get Small”?

Paul Rudnick’s Shouts & Murmurs piece, “The Pope’s Tweets” is predictably LOL. Here are a couple of sample tweets from the Pontiff:
Michele Bachmann is not Satan. Satan doesn’t have split ends.

Someday I’d like to put on slacks, a cardigan, a little straw hat, and sunglasses, and go see “The Book of Mormon.”

Who knew that Calvin Trillin, mostly a food writer, covered the civil rights movements (“the Seg Beat”) for Time magazine once upon a time? His reminiscence of covering the Freedom Riders (“Back on the Bus”) moved me tremendously, as accounts of that historic struggle generally do.

I was mildly interested in Jane Kramer’s profile of contrarian French feminist Elisabeth Badinter, but early on it became clear that she’s one of those social critics who can dish it out but can’ t take it. Badinter refers to a talk she gave at Princeton as her “worst experience….a total execution.” But Kramer reports:

The American feminist scholar Joan Scott, at the Institute for Advanced Studies, heard the talk. She told me, ‘Badinter was saying all sorts of banal things about how the French were sexier than Americans, better at sex, how American women washed too much, how they were embarrassed by bodily odors, by oral sex. We asked hostile questions, like, ‘How can you say these things off the top of your head?’ That it was traumatic for her is very odd. We were simply distressed by her talk.”

I don’t know why, but I also ate up every word of John Cassidy’s piece about hedge fund billionaire Ray Dalio. The guy sounds like a dick, and yet I respect his hard-headedness and self-questioning: “I believe that the biggest problem that humanity faces is an ego sensitivity to finding out whether one is right r wrong and identifying what one’s strengths and weaknesses are.” His motto is “Pain + Reflection = Progress.”

Good piece by Paul Goldberger on Zaha Hadid, an architect whose work interests me. Check out her new Riverside Museum in Glasgow (photo by Iwan Baum):


All told, a densely rewarding issue, anything but light midsummer reading. Although with a perfectly timed Jack Ziegler cartoon:

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