Posts Tagged ‘nick paumgarten’

In this week’s New Yorker

January 26, 2018

Some fascinating stuff in this issue. The article by Adam Entous and Evan Osnos about China’s suspect courtship of Jared Kushner makes its point pretty early and then goes on longer than I had patience for it. But three other stories had me from start to finish.

Nick Paumgarten’s “Getting a Shot” tells about the amazing experience director Madeleine Sackler had making her prison film “O.G.” at a maxium-security state prison in Indiana, employing guards (correctional officers) and inmates (offenders) as actors, including Theothus Carter (pictured above with Sackler, photo by Krisanne Johnson), a twentysomething guy serving a 65-year sentence, who plays one of two leads opposite Jeffrey Wright.

In “Remainders,” Kathryn Schulz tells how a chance purchase in a junk shop of an inscribed volume of Langston Hughes’s poetry led her to discover a fascinating black writer neither she nor I had ever heard of, William Melvin Kelley, who spent his life mostly writing about white people thinking about black people. (In the course of the piece Schulz also casually outs herself as having a female partner, information I’m always delighted to learn.)

And the great Calvin Tomkins profiles Danh Vo, a 42-year-old Vietnamese-born artist (above, photographed by José Luis Cuevas) who grew up in Copenhagen and now lives in Berlin and Mexico City. Vo, who has a survey show opening at the Guggenheim February 9, is himself surprised to be one of those artists whose work can sell for a million bucks apiece. My favorite passage of the article (and the issue):

The demand for what he does led a Dutch collector to sue him for not producing a promised work. A Dutch court ruled against Vo, saying he must deliver a large new work in the style of his recent pieces; Vo offered the collector a text piece that would read, in large letters, “Shove it up your ass, you faggot!,” which happens to be the title of one of his sculptural collages. In the end, that wasn’t necessary, because his legal team managed to reach a settlement, and the collector dropped the suit.

In this week’s New Yorker

June 27, 2014

The single most noteworthy sentence in this week’s issue comes early in Jeffrey Toobin’s long, must-read profile of loathsome Texas senator Ted Cruz, who has spent an insane amount of time attempting (sometimes singlehandedly) to repeal “every blessed word” of the Affordable Care Act: “Cruz gets his own health-care coverage from Goldman Sachs, where his wife is a vice-president.” Could anything make this smug bastard more despicable?

ted cruz

Another remarkable sentence flies quickly by in John Colapinto’s profile (“Shy and Mighty” — great headline) of the xx, the British quietcore trio whose songs are written and sung by Romy Madley Croft and Oliver Sim (below, center and right), whose aural and onstage intimacy suggests that of current or former lovers: “Another defining aspect of the xx’s music — the tamped-down eroticism of the singers’ entwined voices — was also unintended, since both are gay.” Huh. I didn’t see that coming. Makes me love them all the more.

the xx
Aside from those pieces, Nathan Heller’s long profile of filmmaker Richard Linklater is worth reading, along with the always entertaining David Sedaris’s essay, “Stepping Out,” about his obsession with Fitbit.

robot pet cartoon

The New Yorker has had some stellar issues lately. Last week’s, for instance (July 23, 2014), had four very different, all fantastic feature stories:

* Jill Lepore’s “The Disruption Machine,” a meticulous takedown of of the current valorization of disruption as a business ideal, based on her close reading of the book that preached the gospel of innovation, Clayton M. Christensen’s The Innovator’s Dilemma;

* Nick Paumgarten’s hilarious and intimate profile — “Id Girls” (another great headline) — of Abbi Jacobson and Ilana Glazer, the creators of the Comedy Central hit series Broad City, for which Paumgarten got an astonishing amount of reportorial access, a quality his article shares with…

* the great Janet Malcolm’s “The Book Refuge,” a family portrait of the women who run the Argosy Bookstore, the antiquarian bookseller on 57th Street; and

* Sarah Stillman’s long, sad, infuriating article “Get Out of Jail, Inc.,” about how the so-called “alternatives to incarceration” industry preys on the poorest Americans, exorting vast sums of money for offenses like driving with expired license plates or an unpaid parking ticket.

gift bag cartoon

The issue before that, the Summer Fiction: Love Stories double-issue (June 9 & 16), was noteworthy for me primarily for Margaret Talbot’s “The Teen Whisperer,” a superb profile of young-adult novelist John Green, completely unknown to me but now strangely prominent on my radar, to the point where I’m actually curious to see the movie based on his big hit, The Fault in Our Stars (which, weirdly, shows up fleetingly in season 2 of Orange Is the New Black).

kept awake

Photo diary: Friday morning at MOMA

December 1, 2013

(click pictures to enlarge)

I stopped by the Museum of Modern Art on Friday to take advantage of their Black Friday special — six months extra when you buy a year’s membership. Such a deal! While I was there, since it was members’ early hour (9:30-10:30) and the place was surprisingly unthronged, I took the occasion to stroll through the current blockbuster show, “Magritte: The Mystery of the Ordinary, 1926-38.” I love Magritte’s work for its wit and its ability to peel strangeness out of everyday tableaux. It’s fascinating to notice how many of his images have become embedded in our cultural consciousness. It’s not that they look any less strange or striking — I would say that Magritte has contributed to how we accept surrealism as part of our landscape, literally and figuratively. There are many pictures in the show I’ve never seen before, and some favorites are not here, which reminded me that I must have seen a giant retrospective of his work before, possibly in London, because that show turned me on to what I think is my favorite of his paintings, “Homesickness.”

magritte homesickness
No photography is permitted in the Magritte galleries, but also on the sixth floor is the Isa Genzken retrospective, where pictures are encouraged. Before this week, I’d never heard of her, but I read Peter Schjeldahl’s glowing review in this week’s New Yorker, along with Nick Paumgarten’s profile of high-powered art dealer David Zwirner (who represents her) and Judith Thurman’s blog post about her aborted profile of the artist. So I felt sufficiently prepped to tour her array of sculptures, videos, collages, assemblages, paintings, photographs, and notebooks.
11-29 isa 411-29 isa 211-29 isa genzken 1
I was intrigued to read about and then to see evidence of her curious and strong identification with the gay male culture she encountered both in Berlin and in New York City.

11-29 isa and the gays
This piece, for instance, is called “Gay Babies” — a handful of suspended assemblages of net metal pans, chains, and other debris:

11-29 gay babies
She likes to use cruddy everyday objects for whimsical constructions, like this one, part of a piece called “Fuck the Bauhaus”:

11-29 fuck the bauhaus detail11-29 fuck the bauhaus
And there are a bunch of dioramas depicting vaguely sci-fi scenarios collectively called “Empire/Vampire,” an indirect response to the 9/11 attack on the World Trade Center (which apparently she witnessed firsthand):

11-29 empire vampire 1

In this week’s New Yorker

May 30, 2013

Three very interesting complicated narratives dominate the issue:

* Nicholas Schmidle’s “In the Crosshairs” tells the compelling story of  Chris Kyle, the highly decorated military killing machine and co-author of the best-seller American Sniper, whose well-intentioned efforts to help Iraqi veterans suffering from PTSD brought him in contact with Eddie Ray Routh, with disastrous results.

* In “The Manic Mountain,” Nick Paumgarten writes about an intense fight on Mt. Everest between elite white European climbers and the local sherpas who make the slopes safe for commercial tourism.

* Jill Lepore’s sharply negative review of Neil Thompson’s new biography A Curious Man: The Strange and Brilliant Life of Robert “Believe It Or Not!” Ripley manages to achieve a capsule portrait of not only Ripley but also Goeffrey T. Hellman, who wrote many in-depth New Yorker profiles, including one of Ripley that ran in two successive issues in 1940.

I enjoyed reading Alex Halberstadt’s profile of Kim Gordon, even though I have never managed to get anything out of listening to Sonic Youth’s music. And I have to admit that I loved Emily Nussbaum’s review of Steven Soderbergh’s Liberace biopic, Behind the CandelabraI pretty much agree with everything she says about the movie.

Oh, and great timely cover by Marcellus Hall:

bicycle cover

In this week’s New Yorker

April 14, 2013

The April 15 issue is dominated by four long, strong feature stories:

* John Le Carre’s remembrance of how his early novel The Spy Who Loved Me got made into a film starring Richard Burton (who knew that LeCarre goes by the name of David among his friends?);

* Joan Acocella’s extremely entertaining profile of puppet master Basil Twist;

* Nick Paumgarten’s long consideration of James Salter, making a case for the greatness of a writer who’s never been on my radar; and

* Susan Faludi’s piece on Shulamith Firestone, the once extremely influential radical feminist who quickly receded from the fray (bearing the brunt of being trashed by her comrades, in all too familiar internal divisiveness that infects progressive movements) and died last year, alone and mentally ill.


Nicholas Lemann reviews a number of books astutely analyzing the environmentalist movement and what it could learn from the original Earth Day (April 22, 1970). Sasha Frere-Jones makes me want to track down a hit single from 2002 that somehow escaped me, the Knife’s “Heartbeats.” And David Denby’s review makes me curious to see the new Robert Redford film The Company You Keep, though I probably won’t.

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