Posts Tagged ‘margaret talbot’

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

December 31, 2011


The New Year’s issue includes three very different long reporting pieces that I read avidly. I never thought I had any interest in the IFC series Portlandia, but in “Stumptown Girl” Margaret Talbot, excellent writer that she is, succeeded in making it sound … well, more interesting than the small sampling I later tried turned out to be. Mostly, I was interested and entertained by the personality of Carrie Brownstein, whose music with Sleater-Kinney always interested me more in theory than in reality. Rachel Aviv contributes a long, sad, bewildering story about a 14-year-old in prison for life without parole for murdering his beloved grandfather. And then there’s Ariel Levy’s “Letter from Bangalore” about Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw, the pharmaceutical executive and health-care activist who is the richest woman in India, another peek into a world I would otherwise know nothing about. Mostly, I would love to hear Levy say aloud the name of a physician she interviewed: Dr. Prakash Sankalagere Chikkaputtaswamy.

In this week’s New Yorker

June 20, 2011

I had the luxury today of sitting on my veranda for several hours this afternoon reading the entire issue of the New Yorker the day it arrived in the mail.  Unprecedented! A slightly guilty pleasure but a reward to myself after a period of many days hard work without a break.

Some good stuff I might have skipped on a busier weekday: Rebecca Mead’s profile of Alice Walton, the Wal-Mart heiress who’s building an American art museum in Bentonville, Arkansas; Joan Acocella’s profile of American Ballet Theater’s new artistic director, the Russian emigre Alexei Ratmansky, whose work I now feel compelled to check out; and Adam Gopnik’s personal essay about taking drawing lessons, a humbling experience for a seasoned art critic.

And then there’s Alice Munro’s short story, “Gravel,” as deft and light-handed and remarkable as any Munro story (with the ultra-casual introduction of the central character’s lesbianism a typical Munro touch). I would love to know which editor matches up the New Yorker’s fiction with the photographs that illustrate them — it’s almost always a mysterious and perfect selection.

And Margaret Talbot’s commentary in Talk of the Town, in contrast to most of the media whirl, speaks sensibly about l’affaire Anthony Weiner: “If you were Anthony Weiner’s wife, you’d have your own concerns. But if you were his constituent, and thought he was doing a good job representing you, maybe you’d just as soon ignore his Internet amusements. That’s different from saying that what a politician does in private is never our business. It’s more a tacit acceptance that some of the qualities that launch people into public office—self-regard bordering on narcissism, risk-taking—can also launch them into risks of a more personal kind, and that this doesn’t inevitably reflect on their ability to govern. Maybe it’s an acknowledgment that sometimes there are more important things to talk about. “

In this week’s New Yorker

January 18, 2010

Two pieces in this week’s New Yorker caught and rewarded my interest. The major one was Margaret Talbot’s long, well-reported story on the Proposition 8 trial in California, which the lawyers working to overturn the law by judicial fiat hope to take to the Supreme Court and thereby eliminate the state-by-state wrassle over marriage equality. There’s a lot of controversy over timing and argument, but Ted Olson — the guy who argued for the government in the 2000 election debacle in Florida and who has signed on to the gay marriage cause big-time — thinks the case can win, because Proposition 8 “created three unequal classes of people in California: ‘The eighteen thousand or so gay couples who were already married got to remain married. But if they get divorced they can’t get remarried! Is that irrational, or what? Then you have heterosexual couples who can get married, and gays and lesbians who didn’t get married before Prop. 8 and now can’t.” Check out the whole article here.

Then there’s Michael Schulman’s Talk of the Town piece about the impending return to the spotlight of Pee Wee Herman, and not a minute too soon. (Andy and I watched the Pee Wee Herman Christmas Special a couple of weeks ago, a little stoned, and OMG, it is brilliant and subversive and crazy all at once. It’s as if Highlights magazine ran a feature called “Count the Gay Icons on This Prime-Time TV Special.” And when Grace Jones stepped out of a box with a slice of foam on her head to sing “The Little Drummer Boy,” my head nearly exploded. You can see it on YouTube here.) My favorite part of the short piece is when Paul Reubens talks about his real agenda with Pee Wee’s Playhouse: “The show was really about celebrating diversity and saying it’s O.K. to be different in any way that you’re different, period. In seventh grade, I remember meeting these art kids who were, like, ‘Hey, you got a minute? Sit down! Have you ever heard of nonconformity? Listen, this is what it is!’ And, meanwhile, I’m, like, ‘You’re kidding. You mean there are people who want to be different?’ ”

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