Posts Tagged ‘william finnegan’

In this week’s New Yorker

July 13, 2018

For self-protection, I avoid TV news. I’m content to get my news of the world from the kind of deep dives that the New Yorker specializes in.

The current midsummer double-issue is extra-good, in a roller-coaster way.

Adrian Chen’s “No More Secrets,” about a guy who live-streams his mundane existence, reflects up-to-the-minute technology but in a way that fills me with despair — THIS is what people pay attention to? Yuk. But I guess it’s good to know.

David Sedaris writes hilariously, as always, about going to a shooting range with his sister Lisa (“Active Shooter”), where the instructor keeps calling him “Mike,” which he finds an amusing alternative to what he often gets when he presents his credit card (“Are you THE David Sedaris?”).

In “Tunnel Vision,” William Finnegan profiles the new head of the MTA, a Brit named Andy Byford who’s determined to overhaul the NYC subway system as he did in London and Toronto.

How cool to get a look at a mural Charles Addams painted for a Hamptons hotel in 1952, which has been quietly hanging in a library at Penn State.

Ariel Levy writes about a fascinating Iranian-American novelist named Ottessa Moshfegh (below, photographed by Dru Donovan) and her crazy romantic life (“Not From Around Here”).

And Hilton Als pays tribute to Anika Noni Rose, who’s starring in a production of “Carmen Jones” directed by John Doyle that sounds worth seeing at Classic Stage Company (“Working It”).

In this week’s New Yorker

September 16, 2014

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I haven’t even gotten to this week’s issue, but I just finished last week’s, which is remarkably loaded with good substance, notwithstanding its enigmatic untitled Saul Steinberg cover.

I was taken by virtually all the major features:

* Kelefa Sanneh’s “The Eternal Paternal,” a profile of Bill Cosby that brings up but never satisfactorily addresses accusations of sexual assault;

* Jerome Groopman’s highly technical but engrossing report on a breakthrough in leukemia treatment;

* John Lahr’s profile of Al Pacino, full of weirdly specific mundane details; and

* William Finnegan’s “Dignity,” a moving portrait of the budding labor movement among fast-food workers and an admirable demonstration of a male gringo reporter identifying with a non-English-speaking Latina McDonald’s employee.

Also surprisingly gripping: Alex Ross’s essay on the Frankfurt School of early 20th century intellectuals, centering on the combative friendship of Walter Benjamin and Theodor Adorno and their various takes on pop culture (Adorno and Max Horkheimer, in their 1944 book Dialectic of Enlightenment, opined that the culture industry offered “the freedom to choose what is always the same”).

In this week’s New Yorker

August 28, 2014

The three long features are all worth reading, for very different reasons.

Rebecca Mead’s “The Troll Slayer,” a profile of British classics scholar Mary Beard, is the most entertaining because its subject is so self-accepting and outspoken and reasonable.

The subject of William Finnegan’s “The Man Without a Mask” — Mexican drag queen wrestler Saul Armendariz, aka Cassandro — sounds both tough and tortured, not unreasonably, given the amazing life he’s lived and the profession he has pursued. It’s a world I knew nothing about. Check out this amazing photo by Katie Olinsky:

cassandro by katie orlinsky

Connie Bruck’s “Friends of Israel” belongs to the category of Ugly Truths Department — one of the New Yorker’s political pieces that informs you about stuff you don’t really want to know but you really should, namely the negative impact that the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) has had on American politics by pouring tons of campaign money into Congress and enforcing an ironclad Israel-can-do-no-wrong attitude. Ugh. In its own way, AIPAC is as troublesome as the Koch brothers.

I gobbled up Lena Dunham’s “Difficult Girl,” but something about the glib way she plays her lifelong OCD for trendy status bugs me.

And another great cover by Eric Drooker, titled “Ferguson, Missouri”

new yorker ferguson cover

In this week’s New Yorker

April 26, 2013

Another week of exemplary reporting. Editor-in-chief David Remnick literally overnight called on his years of experience reporting from Russia to post on the magazine’s website his amazingly thorough, thoughtful, deep Talk of the Town piece on the Tsarnaev brothers and the Chechen culture they came from.

With his typically tenacious reporting and dry-eyed scrutiny, William Finnegan reports (“The Deportation Machine”) the horrific story of Mark Lyttle, a 35-year-old biracial mentally ill American citizen from North Carolina, who¬† — through a series of bureaucratic mishaps that even Kafka might have considered far-fetched — was deported, shoved across the Mexican border with three dollars in his pocket, and forced to spend four months wandering (sometimes on foot) through Central America until the American Embassy in Guatemala contacted his family and sent him home. Except that he was arrested at the airport in Atlanta under the assumption that his newly issued passport was a fake.

Then there’s Luke Mogelson’s “Letter from Aleppo,” a soul-wrenching dispatch from the bloody midst of Syria’s raggedy civil war. Mogelson’s piece focuses on the people who have assumed the task of burying the corpses that get pulled out of the River Queiq that runs through Syria’s largest city (234 in recent months) and the heavily-traveled bridge on which Syrian Army snipers shoot commuters “in order to bait rebel fighters and would-be rescuers,” except that most of the victims turn out to be women, children, and old men who can’t run fast enough to escape.

I confess that after reading Finnegan’s and Mogelson’s pieces, I was relieved to turn the page and read Ian Parker’s profile of filmmaker Noah Baumbach.

Also in the issue: excellent piece about writing by echt New Yorker staffer John McPhee, who makes a case for the dictionary being a writer’s best friend; a portfolio of pieces (including “Onlookers,” below) by photographer Roger Ballen, whose images fueled Die Antwood’s stunning music video “I Fink U Freeky”; and a column in the Current Cinema department that reminds me that the way to brighten anyone’s day is to read aloud Anthony Lane’s movie reviews out loud.

bollen onlookers

In this week’s New Yorker

June 28, 2012

Quirky fun issue that centers on four very detailed fact pieces: Patricia Marx on scavenger hunt mania at the University of Chicago; John McPhee gleefully cycling into print a long string of obscenity-laden passages that previous editors (including the famously squeamish Mister Shawn) deemed “not for us,” including a bravura extended account by McPhee of what goes on at a stud farm; William Finnegan making sense while writing about the ultra-complicated interplay of drugs and politics in Guadelajara; and Calvin Tomkin masterfully profiling Nick Serota, director of the Tate Modern museum in London. Louis Menand also contributes a very fine piece on the art of writing biographies of James Joyce. (See Quote of the Day.)

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