Posts Tagged ‘ariel levy’

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 last week’s New Yorker

May 1, 2016

This week’s issue of The New Yorker, the one with the instant-turnaround purple rain cover, has two pieces I highly recommend in categories the magazine is best-known for. Ian Frazier writes deep-dive articles in a folksy voice in the department called “Our Local Correspondents,” and this week he covers an issue near and dear to my heart: “The Bag Bill,” focusing on activist Jennie Romer and her campaign to reduce the number of plastic shopping bags we use because they do substantial environmental damages. Meanwhile, Eyal Press contributes “Madness,” a wrenching expose of how mentally ill inmates in Florida are routinely tortured.

erykah badu

Last week’s “Entertainment Issue” had a few good pieces, notably Adam Gopnik on Paul McCartney, Kelefa Sanneh on Erykah Badu  (above, photographed by Amanda Demme), and Emily Nussbaum on Kenya Barris, the creator of the TV show “black-ish.” I’ve never watched the show, but Barris is smart and funny, and Nussbaum is a terrific writer — she deserves the Pulitzer Prize for criticism she just won. Here’s the way that article ends:

In April, Barris’s family went on a vacation that could be taken only by people at the pinnacle of success. During a visit to New York, they saw “Hamilton” not once but twice. They also flew to Washington for the White House Easter Egg Roll, and were part of a V.I.P. group who met the President and the First Lady. “That’s our family,” President Obama told Barris, about “black-ish.”

Not everything went smoothly. After four hours at the White House, Barris, tired, insisted that they leave. Once they were outside, Kaleigh got a text from Anthony Anderson’s son: they’d just missed Beyoncé and Jay Z. Barris’s daughters were furious at their dad; tears formed in Leyah’s eyes. When he saw those tears, Barris lost it: “You just met the President!” They apologized. Barris stayed mad. But he was also inspired. “I texted Groff and said, ‘We have to use this next season.’ ”

But the week before that was an especially good issue. Aside from Hilton Als’s piece about Maggie Nelson (which inspired me to go out and buy her book The Argonauts) and Ariel Levy on the delightful eccentric artist Niki de Saint Phalle, the issue contains one of the most important political news stories I’ve read all year. Ben Taub’s “The Assad Files” is a long, strong reporting piece about the Commission for International justice and Accountability, an independent investigative body founded in 2012 by American lawyer Chris Engels which has been collecting hundreds of thousands of top-secret documents tracing the mass torture and killings directly to Bashar Al-Assad and his regime. The first-hand accounts are horrifying and upsetting to encounter. The situation in Syria is so bad and so hopeless, who knows when and how it will ever be resolved. If there’s any good news in this story, it’s that whenever the moment comes to prosecute Assad in the International Criminal Court, there will be no lack of evidence for his responsibility.

 

In this week’s New Yorker

September 26, 2013

new yorker sept 30 cover
It took me a while to understand Barry Blitt’s cover (“Bad Chemistry”), but I guess I’m one of the last halfway sentient people in New York who has never watched an episode of Breaking Bad.

I found all four of the feature stories absorbing:

* Xan Rice’s “Now Serving,” about a brave Somali who opened a string of restaurants and hotels in Mogadishu and continues to operate despite being attacked by the Shabab, the same band of crazed thugs who shot up the shopping mall in Nairobi this week;

* Josh Eells’s “Night Club Royale,” about the dance nightclub industry in Las Vegas, where certain clubs pull in half a million dollars a night from drinks alone and star DJs get paid astronomical fees;

* I kept telling myself, ugh, I don’t want to read any more details about the distressing/hopeless situation in Syria, and yet the great reporter Dexter Filkins’s piece “The Shadow Commander” tells us about a figure it’s important to know about, Qassem Suleimani, an Iranian operative who has been calling the shots in Iraq and Syria for the last fifteen years;

edie windsor
* Ariel Levy’s “The Perfect Wife,” about how marriage equality activists and lawyers selected Edie Windsor as the case to take to the Supreme Court — and what a wild gal she is, even today.

I read with interest Emily Nussbaum’s essay about “Key and Peele,” a TV comedy show by a team of biracial comedians I’ve never heard of — I definitely plan to check them out. I also liked Cora Frazier’s hilarious Shouts & Murmurs piece, “To The N.S.A.: Some Explanations.”

Still not loving the newly designed Goings On Around Town, though I did admire this illustration accompanying Joan Acocella’s Critic’s Choice about two dance pieces based on Othello:

OTHELLo illo
But the best thing in the entire issue is Ian Frazier’s Talk of the Town piece about Shaina Harrison, a young community activist working hard to educate kids about guns in Red Hook. I liked the piece so much I reproduced it in full here.

In this week’s New Yorker

September 9, 2012

Before the moment passes, I’d like to put in a good word about several absorbing articles in the Style Issue, cover-dated September 10:

* John Seabrook on Federico Marchetti, the business nerd who dragged fashion kicking and screaming into e-commerce with Yoox.com;

* John Colapinto on Will Guidara and Daniel Humm, who bought out and took over Danny Meyer’s  Eleven Madison Park and elevated it to a ridiculously world-renowned restaurant;

* Aleksandar Hemon’s profile of Lana and Andy Wachowski, the filmmaking siblings who made The Matrix and its spin-offs and whose most recent work is the forthcoming adaptation of David Mitchell’s mind-bending novel Cloud Atlas (I enjoyed Tom Hanks’ quote — “I work for free. I get paid for waiting.” — and was touched by this remark by Steve Skroce, who has storyboarded for the filmmakers since The Matrix: “After the success of the first Matrix, they were able to get point son the box-office, video games, etc. They had a dinner at this great Italian restaurant in Santa Monica and all their key collaborators were invited. At each place setting was a golden envelope with a check inside. I’m not sure who got what, but I know what I received was far beyond what I could ever have guessed or hoped for.”); and

* Ian Parker on Bjarke Ingels, the Danish architect who has made himself a brand name at 37.

Then there’s Thomas McGuane’s short, pungent story “The Casserole” and Ariel Levy’s supercilious review of Naomi Wolf’s book Vagina: A New Biography, which made me laugh out loud. Key passage: “Wolf claims that vaginal slander — referring to the vagina by its ‘awful’ feline moniker, for instance — ‘apparently affects the very tissue of the vagina.’ She bases this conclusion on a study of female rats whose vaginal tissue showed signs of change after periods of stress. The experiment did not, however, entail researching yelling ‘Rat pussy!’ at the animals; stress was manufactured physically. Wolf’s interpretation of the science is, as usual, rather free.”

And who doesn’t love a cover by Ian Falconer?

 

In this week’s New Yorker

January 22, 2012

Another stellar batch of cartoons!


Along with fine reporting by Ariel Levy on Callista Gingrich, Steve Coll on “Looking for Mullah Omar,” and William Finnegan, who traveled to Madagascar with club and restaurant superstar Eric Goode to observe his passion for saving rare breeds of tortoise. The latter piece is a real vocabulary expander; I picked up “chelonian,” “gular scute,” and “opuntia cactus.” Lots of astonishing tortoise lore: “Chelonians actually predate many dinosaurs. They have been lumbering around for more than two hundred million years, and have changed very little in all that time. Nobody knows how long individual plowshares live. Captain James Cook took away a radiated tortoise, the plowshare’s closest relative, and gave it to the King of Tonga, in 1777. It died in 1966.” And the next time there’s a lull in conversation over dinner, try telling your guests “Endoscopic turtle sexing will not become common practice in Madagascar any time soon.”

Poet Donald Hall contributes a poignant Personal History essay on aging, “Out the Window,” and Anthony Lane applies his characteristically droll erudition to reviewing Ralph Fiennes’ film adaptation of Shakespeare’s Coriolanus: “The movie unfolds in a modern setting, and in modern dress. This will obviously be disappointing to any Gerard Butler fans who hoped to see their man reprise his majestic outfit from 300, which consisted of helmet, cloak, and pull-up Spartan diaper.” And whichever poetry editor has been slipping lyrics by pop songwriters such as Joni Mitchell and Paul Simon into the magazine has now added to the list Leonard Cohen. As usual, the lyric doesn’t fly so well on the page, but on the website you can scroll down and hear the track “Going Home” from Cohen’s forthcoming album, Old Ideas, hotly anticipated by me.

%d bloggers like this: