Posts Tagged ‘daniel mendelsohn’

In this week’s New Yorker

January 6, 2013

pookie poo cartoon
A few long pieces held my interest:

* Lauren Collins on the new vogue for Scandinavian TV shows (with my favorite passage in the entire issue);

* Adam Green’s profile of Apollo Robbins, whose professional is pickpocket-as-entertainer; and

* Daniel Mendelsohn’s “Personal History” account of the correspondence between a tortured young homosexual (himself, growing up in Long Island) and Mary Renault, renowned lesbian author of a string of novels set in ancient Greece loaded with homosexual romances.


Andy also pointed out the poignant contrast between Chris Ware’s “Back to School” cover from last September…

new yorker back to school

and this week’s, titled “Threshold,” in which the parents are not nearly so casual as they drop the kids off to school:

new yorker threshold

In other media notes, I was struck by a couple of juxtapositions in the Sunday New York Times recently that left misleading impressions. Last weekend, the annual “The Lives They Led” issue opened with this spread, which at first I took for a remarkably tony two-page ad for Portlandia:

portlandia spread

Then in today’s Arts and Leisure section, at first glance it looks like Reed Birney is making his Broadway comeback in drag impersonating a highly recognizable Hollywood actress:

1-6 actor comeback


In this week’s New Yorker

April 12, 2012

The travel issue surprisingly didn’t excite me much. I read without interest Basharat Peer on the hajj and Lauren Collins on Croatia as destination for drunken revelers from Britain. I skipped Julia Ioffe on Russian borscht and Daniel Mendelsohn on the Titanic. The high points for me were Patricia Marx’s fascinating piece on — never heard of it! must make note! — and Bruce McCall’s great cover, “Carry-On Luggage” (above), which reminds me (like so many things these days) of Louis C.K.’s neo-Seinfeld episode on that subject. Hilton Als writes about a couple of plays in Chicago by intriguing writers new to me. And although I’m often happy to follow Sasha Frere-Jones wherever his musical enthusiasm leads him, I remain unconvinced by his take on Spiritualized, whose new album “Sweet Heart Sweet Light” strikes me as pretty yawny. If you hurry, you can check it out free yourself on NPR’s First Listen page.

In this week’s New Yorker

August 23, 2011

clever cover by Istvan Banyai

I read Wendell Steavenson’s absorbing report of street protests in Syria, admirably persistent in the face of a regime that seems to think dissent can be permanently stifled. “The demonstrations are so fleeting that they are nicknamed ‘flying protests.’ Activists have tried to confound the authorities by singing the national anthem or throwing roses into the fountain in Marjeh Square. They have tied messages of defiance to balloons, and tucked them inside packages of dates given out at mosques, and taped them to Ping-Pong balls thrown into the street from high buildings. In one ingenious scheme, they wrote ‘freedom’ on banknotes, but then banks refused to take notes with any markings on them. One day during my visit, dozens of people simply wore white and walked around a block in an upscale neighborhood. Several were arrested.”

I love Susan Orlean, but I skipped her piece on Rin Tin Tin — not interesting subject to me. I read every word of Jeffrey Toobin’s piece on Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas and his wife Ginni, who is one of the Tea Party’s most prominent champions and funders. The most astonishing passage:

By the fall of last year, Ginni Thomas’s activities had become so public that she began to draw journalistic scrutiny. On Saturday, October 9th, the Times ran a front-page story headlined “ACTIVISM OF THOMAS’S WIFE COULD RAISE JUDICIAL ISSUES,” which was a straightforward account of Ginni’s political activities. Still, the story may have unnerved its subject, because at seven-thirty-one that morning Ginni Thomas left a voice mail for Anita Hill, at her office at Brandeis University, where she teaches. “Anita Hill, it’s Ginni Thomas. I just wanted to reach across the airwaves and the years and ask you to consider something. I would love you to consider an apology sometime and some full explanation of why you did what you did with my husband.” She went on to urge Hill to “pray about this,” and then signed off, “O.K., have a good day!”

Sasha Frere-Jones’ piece on Ishmael Butler told me everything I wanted and needed to know about Shabazz Palaces and mainly inspired me to go back and listen to the complete Digable Planets on Rhapsody. Daniel Mendelsohn’s piece on Rimbaud interested me, especially this quote from one of the young poet’s letters: “The first study of the man who wishes to be a poet is complete knowledge of himself. He searches his mind, inspects it, tries out and learns to use it.”

In this week’s New Yorker, and the week before, and…

February 6, 2011

OK, so I got a little behind digesting my favorite magazine and passing along links. I had a busy January. I’ve been a little cranky about all the snarky commentary about Spiderman — Turn Off the Dark, but I have to say I did find the cover of the January 17 issue pretty funny, and everything Joan Rivers said to Julie Taymor, as reported by Patrick Healy in today’s Arts and Leisure section of the New York Times. A lot of people, including rumblings from the esteemed Times, have been acting like it’s some heinous crime against humanity for STOTD to be playing weeks, even months of previews without getting reviewed. But I don’t get what the BFD is. Theatergoers who bought tickets thinking the show would be finished and have been reviewed already can always ask for their money back. Meanwhile, because of all the publicity, anybody who sees the show nowadays has tremendous bragging rights, especially if the show has to stop to fix some technical glitch or if somebody gets hurt. (Dancers get hurt every day of the week, but nobody ever gets self-righteous about how dangerous New York City Ballet is for its performers.) Maybe the show is crappy. But I’d rather wait til the artists making it say it’s done before judging it. Then the gloves are off.

Going back a few weeks: the New Yorker has been providing great fodder for all kinds of geeks and obsessives lately. Daniel Mendelsohn’s story on the Vatican Library gives bibliophiles and scholars a satisfying peek at that inner sanctum. I’ve never heard of the designer Tomas Maier but enjoyed reading John Colapinto’s profile of this hunky guy. I just noticed that the striking photo that ran with the story is by famed painter/artist Robert Longo. (I’m also struck by how thorough matter-of-fact both the New Yorker and the Times are these days in writing about subjects who are gay and their domestic partnerships.) In the same issue, Jeffrey Toobin wrote a thorough and sad story about a young prosecutor whose participation in the case against Alaska congressman Ted Stevens ended tragically. And David Denby wrote a lively piece about Joan Crawford.

The following week, another juicy issue with Mike Peed’s fascinating reported article on bananas, how they’re bred, and the disease that is threatening the world supply of this beloved fruit (well, beloved by me and everyone else except Roz Chast), Ian Buruma on how Belgium threatens to implode, Evan Osnos on psychoanalysis in China, and Joan Acocella — hilarious as ever — on the strange saga of best-selling mediocre author Stieg Larsson, who died before even his first novel came out.

Last week forced me again to spend several hours reading absorbing articles on subjects I didn’t know interested me: the evolution of theories about preventing food allergies in children (by Jerome Groopman), the science of crowd control (John Seabrook, who details the weird and distressing story of how a 6’5″, 485-pound stockroom employee was trampled to death at a Wal-Mart on Long Island on Black Friday, 2008), and the monster-making imagination of Guillermo del Toro, director of Pan’s Labyrinth and other arty horror films (profiled by Daniel Zalewski, whose article provides the only glimpse we will ever see of what would have been del Toro’s take on Tolkein’s The Hobbit). And then there’s Joan Acocella again, writing another hilarious and trenchant essay about another excellent, underappreciated writer and one of my faves, J. R. Ackerley — note again the astonishing bounty of details about his (rather pitiful) homo sex life.

Plus, the cartoons.


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