Posts Tagged ‘alec wilkinson’

In this week’s New Yorker

March 12, 2017

The March 13 issue is especially strong in both the feature well and the back of the book. I was edified by:

  • Jake Halpern’s report on a safe house in Buffalo designed to help refugees making their way to Canada from the U.S.;
  • “The Polymath,” the ever-brilliant Alec Wilkinson’s profile of Jack White, whose music (the White Stripes, etc.) has never interested me but who turns out to be a fascinating, adventurous, productive guy;
  • “Donald Trump’s Worst Deal,” Adam Davidson’s excellent follow-the-money expose of the current president’s unlawful business dealing with a legendarily corrupt Azerbaijani family — there are clearly innumerable stories like this to be told, not likely to result in impeachment given the Republican strangehold on Congress, but it’s an in-depth account of the thriving world of international corruption;
  • Ariel Levy’s characteristically exquisite and intimate profile of Catherine Opie, renowned photographer of communities on the edge (the New Yorker website and tablet app include a portfolio of 15 amazing Opie portraits and landscapes, including “Self-Portrait/Nursing,” below);


In this week’s New Yorker

May 18, 2012

Aside from the cover by Bob Staake and Margaret Talbot’s right-on editorial about Obama’s endorsing gay marriage, the most remarkable thing about this issue for me is the indication that Robert Falls has upped the profile of Chicago’s Goodman Theater so much now that many of its productions command coverage by New York critics. Hilton Als reviews Falls’ production of The Iceman Cometh, starring Nathan Lane but featuring a couple of young actors who Hilton thinks are stars of tomorrow (Patrick Andrews and Kate Arrington). And the always plugged-in culture reporter Alec Wilkinson’s “Stage Secret” follows the acclaimed black Shakespearean actor John Douglas Thompson to clown school. I have yet to see Thompson onstage but I plan to repair that lacuna the next chance I get.

Otherwise, not a lot of essential reading. Jeffrey Toobin’s long piece on the Citizens United court case — the one that has unleashed a bottomless flood of unaccountable corporate donations to this year’s elections — reveals the couple of small errors on the part of the Solicitor General’s office that allowed this egregious legislation to get by the Supreme Court. But Toobin basically establishes that the Supreme Court has a very, very long history of being very conservative in the direction of considering corporations to be “people” whose First Amendment right to self-expression is sacrosanct. Which is of course of a lot of horseshit that denies what should be perfectly obvious to any impartial law court, which is that the money corporations have to sling around allows them to drown out the voices of actual people.

I also read with interest Xan Rice’s story, “Finish Line,” about Kenyan runners in general and Olympic champion Samuel Wanjiru in particular.

In this week’s New Yorker

November 6, 2011

Last week’s Cartoon Issue was pretty disappointing. This week’s issue had, for one thing, much better cartoons.

But in addition there were three absorbing features: James Wood on what personal libraries have to say about us; D. T. Max on a young pianist new to me named Helen Grimaud; and the great war reporter Jon Lee Anderson on the last days of Qaddafi. I also enjoyed Alec Wilkinson’s Talk of the Town piece about Gillian Welch and Dave Rawlings on the road and Hendrik Hertzberg’s editorial mulling over the contrasting political strategies of the Tea Party and Occupy Wall Street.

In this week’s New Yorker

September 1, 2011

…there may be some good stuff, but I haven’t read it yet because it hasn’t arrived in my mailbox. (Hey! Irene ate my New Yorker!) I can read it on my iPad but somehow it’s not the same. Plus there’s a long takeout on Ry Cooder by Alec Wilkinson that’s ONLY available on the magazine’s website. I’m like Wilkinson: Cooder is a huge culture hero of mine (and was the first famous musician I ever interviewed, as an extremely callow college sophomore in Houston, at the time of his Paradise and Lunch album).

But instead of talking about The New Yorker, I want to give a shout out to New York magazine for this week’s 9/11 issue. I didn’t think anyone could come up with anything about 9/11 that a) hasn’t been done before and/or b) that I would want to read. But leave it to Adam Moss to come up with an ingenious concept, “The Encyclopedia of 9/11,” which manages to encompass some pockets of curiosity that managed to intrigue me and lure me into reading stuff I never would have otherwise. (Some entries that stand out: The Fake Widow, how Saturday Night Live handled that week, the weird story of Sneha Anne Philip.) It’s impressive journalism without straying too far into cheesy or cheap sentiment. I’ve known Adam since we were both kids (he edited my profiles of Phoebe Snow and Wally Shawn back when he was a junior editor at Esquire, and he hired me as arts editor for 7 Days), and I continue to admire his editorial restlessness, creativity, fearlessness, and insistence on quality.

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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