New Yorkers March - December 2013
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-Newtown - so carefully done, sort of the opposite of the piece on the woman shooter in the previous month - in fact - the issue is, what was the appropriate role of the local paper.
- Rise of Purell. Recently I have a had a close relly have a stemcell transplant after which, as we spent time with her, we have had to use vast quantities of the stuff. So this was fascinating in a very personal way.
-Eric Cantor. Neither Republicans nor Democrats get how much the world has shifted on them...... Republicans need to grow up socially and Democrats need to be more practical. Nuff said. Don't think Eric is the one to fix it.
- Surgeon who fixes voices. Incredible! Bravo!
-Toibin story. OK nothing great.
-Piero at the Frick - this was pretty good, I love that painter.
-new book about Roosevelt and the New Deal. Kind of skimmed it.... but point seems to be that things turned out differently than anyone expected, despite the vast growth of government, there was not a managerial take over as feared and democracy survived, changed but still intact.
Is Frank Ormsby Eric Ormsby's brother? I love E. Ormsby's poems and I liked this one by Frank.
Voigt is always rock solid and good.
-Kolbert on insomnia - more tantalizing than really informative - although the image of Franklin reading naked in the middle of the night is delicious! I did know about the 'go to bed when it gets dark, get up for a few hours in the middle of the night, go back to bed until daylight' of our forbears. It was especially crucial in cold climates where you had to stoke fires and check livestock etc.
-S&M pretty funny
-Jason Moran, virtuoso jazz pianist..... I like jazz well enough but not obsessively enough to do more than scan the article and make a note to listen to him sometime.
-Ruth Bader Ginzburg - I read every word. What a marvelous person!
-Aaron Swartz - cyber-genius who got in a lot of trouble for downloading JSTOR stuff and ended up committing suicide. One could sit and discuss this young man, every part of his life story, for hours. He was a genius though, and it is becoming apparent that that is not necessarily a comfortable place to be, not at all. I suppose it is like being on fast forward and everyone around you is SOOOOOO SLLLLOOOOOOOWWWW. He also had chronic ulcerative colitis which is like irritable bowel on steroids, but not quite Krohn's but a constant nagging pain. It's a sad story all around.
-Kattekoppen - takes place in Afghanistan. This is an EXCEPTIONALLY fine story. Brilliant even.
- Review of older book about Coolidge - interesting since I recently read a bio of his wife Grace, given to me by an LT friend.
-scanned and wishlisted Jamie Quatro's new book of short stories although I am always suspicious of a hullabaloo about a first-timer.
-Box of Puppies. To say that some people are so caught up in their own anthropomorphic and star-of-my-movie fantasies - would be an understatement.
-Hip hop look - skipped
-Punk at the Met - tried to read.
-Burma wave... Eastern punk movement. well. again, I tried.
-Georgina Rinehart - one of the world's richest woman (Australian) - worth billions. There ARE different standards for criticizing public figures, particularly very rich ones, depending on whether they are male or female, no question, but Gina Rinehart is a bastard! Correction, Greedy bastard. Bilked a long time employee/friend of her Dad's out of a 500,000 bequest in his will..... That's like..... $50 dollars to the likes of you and me. Petty. Nasty. The person who wrote the article struggled to be fair.
-Jhabvala story. I liked it, but no rave.
-memoirs about being a failure. Well ho-hum yawn. More Magical-me-star-of-my-own-movie.
-Sedaris on losing his passport - always reliably entertaining.
-bringing Matilda to Broadway - skimmed
-S&M not that funny
-on a sexual abuse at Horace Mann. Read intently as someone I know had problems at a New England boarding school in the same era. Incredibly one person says (paraphrased here) "- Oh back in those days, things were kind of wild and so it wasn't so bad, not like it would be now."
Oh yeah? The adults excused themselves on those grounds, not the kids. Anyhow - it seems to me that humans have a great ability to absorb difficult experiences but ONLY if those experiences are believed and validated - that is where the worst suffering occurs - being told that you are imagining things.
-CIA fellow - he sounds utterly pathologically like someone who needs to constantly have stuff going both ways - not a liar exactly, but a certain kind of thrill-seeker.....
-story. Reasonably good.
-great review of a new bio (and older ones) about Margaret Fuller.
-Henry Blodget - founded an on-line bus. mag called Business Insider.....and you have to pay for it. He's all for everyone making money off users.
-Shouts and Murmurs - Wonderplanet - the best I've read in forever - a demented horrible mother with a blog, very funny, at least to me: "..I think of nurturing WonderPlanet (her blog) as a full-time occupation, and someday I do plan on returning to my career as an advoate for women over forty who still want to grow and maintain waist-length hair." When she isn't maintaining her blog and humiliating her children or egging them on to humiliate their aupair... she's having quality time: "The afternoon flew by, and before we knew it Daddy came home, carrying a bunch of daffodils, a loaf of still warm cracked-carraway-seed bread from our local bakery, which is staffed entirely by Dartmouth PhD's and all of Mommy's prescriptions, which I immediately sorted into imported French porcelain pillboxes labeled "Stress", Mood," and "I Wish I had a Gun." Oh well, what we think is funny is very personal.....
-Jeremy Denk on his musical life - this was a terrific piece!
-Hisham Matar on his Libyan exile and return. I don't usually 'get through' these pieces, but this one was riveting and beautifully written.
-Vice Media. well. I guess I'm just an old fuddy duddy -
-Valentine - Tessa Hadley, ss - pretty good - a bit predictable. But I like the conflict between the girl and her parents, esp stepfather, v. well done.
-So why aren't we all reading Rachel Kushner's The Flamethrowers??? Here is a book that all of us on LT should, presumably, be discovering, reading and raving about if it is as good as this reviewer says it is....... but this is an April issue and it is August...... so I'll have to check it out of a library and see what the fuss is - I don't entirely trust NYer reviewers, they can be quirky, faddish, take up a book because no one else has, etc.
This was a terrific issue! I was so intent on the articles that I had to go back to read the cartoons later! Unheard of!
- John le Carre - on the filming of The Spy - w/Richard Burton
-Basil Twist - puppeteer - just plain fascinating!
-Nick Paumgarten on James Salter. I tried a book of his short stories awhile back and all I remember is thinking, yes, the writing is superb, but I was so put off by just about everything else..... I remember feeling appalled, actually. Sometimes there is this disconnect, as a reader, when the author is describing 'things as they are' 'people as they are' - and I generally make allowances for that, but I seem to recall some kind of ..... profound lack of either true sympathy or understanding of women that really appalled me. It felt like the thinking of someone stuck in the past entirely. And damned happy to be there. So..... I will pick up a Salter if I come across one at a library, but I'll sit down right there with it before I take it home.
-Shulamith Firestone - Oh - my - yes - what an amazing (terrifying) woman she was - and really quite a weird juxtaposition to put this piece right after the Salter - somebody's idea of something funny? Of balance? The tragedy is how difficult it was for women then to organize and be supportive of each other - what a mess - I had an aunt actually who was a regional pres. in NOW who was booted for having an affair with my uncle while she was still married. 1971, in the thick of it all. Transitional times, eh? Firestone's view of women as an exploited group is still spot on, women have faced some of the issues and not others, because because - well - like global warming they are just so huge and, yes, frightening to face.
-Just to continue the above theme - Salter is mentioned as a worthy writer in Boyles' not half bad story, "The Night of the Satellite" - and the theme of men and women having vastly different responses to emotional situations is also apt.
-fate of Earth day. When the goals were less ambitious, more targeted more got done. But - I also think the largest polluting business got their acts together by the late seventies and have cleverly blocked and blanketed the susceptible, shall we call them, with propaganda that makes the 'science' and 'scientists' look suspect......Global warming is just too big for the average person to wrap their head around - until, of course, their house gets swept away in a flood or a tornado or what have you. What a world it was when there were still a few liberal Republicans! When they would all sit down and eat meals and socialize together happily!
April 22??? Lost
-The Deportation Machine - chilling. Quotas? Are you effing kidding me? People get churned right out of the country so some INS dirp can make a quota.
-John McPhee on writing. I half like half don't like these essays (there has been at least one other). For the most part I know the advice is sound, but he does have that old fart I know what's best tone that makes my hackles go up. But I was thrilled to have a few NYer styles illuminated - which and that usage as well as the possessives. That was pure fun.
-Syria. What a tragic mess. No more to be said.
-Roger Ballen - didn't move me, creepy
-Noah Baumbach (director) - I was made supremely uncomfortable by the movie Greenberg, but I remember it and have occasionally considered watching it again. Worth watching, Baumbach is, I think.
-story - Joshua Ferris. The Fragments - pretty good.
Scanned the rest. Why is it I so rarely have even heard of the movies they review in the NYer???? They certainly never get to Vermont.
-Kosovo war crimes. skimmed
-wild cats as pets. People are too stupid for words!!!!
-seeking cities in the central american jungles - THIS IS THE KIND OF ARTICLE I LOVE!!! A new technology (digital, light-based, incredible) finds hidden ruins. Cool cool cool. They are finding places by the dozens, good and bad as looters find out and get there first and that is bad bad bad.
-a pitcher with a wonky elbow and a demon throw. skimmed
-gray goose, story by Jonathan Lethem. Flaccid, pointless. Sorry - I usually like Lethem. Sometimes a goose is just a goose, eh?
-long piece about Hickenlooper. He is the same age as my spouse, was at Wesleyan at the same time..... but I am guessing they never crossed paths due to different interests. - He sounds like an intriguing person, actually. Independent and thoughtful.
-a top backgammon player..... skimmed
-white house debate over Syria - the line that is staying with me is to the effect that Hassad was starting small and slowly ratcheting up his use of chem. weapons in such a way that we would 'get used' to it. What a rat. I have absolutely no idea what can be done about him, but it should be a joint multi-nation effort whatever it is. Everyone and no one responsible for what comes after.
-RIVETING piece about a diagnostician at a hospital in Queens. FABULOUS. What I keep on with the NYer for.
-Bleh story. Is anyone really that one dimensional? I suppose I am naive, but it just didn't work at all for me, mannered, and pointless.
May 20 Inventions and innovations..... an excellent issue!
- Treadmill/stand-up desks. I've been keen on the stand-up desk for years. I made on to work on household stuff and guess what, the husband took it over, I kid you not. He just elbowed me out. The pretence was a project he had that might take a month. And now it's been two years. So I've set up elsewhere, but rilly! Anyway - our house wouldn't accommodate a treadmill anywhere, but we have a beautiful outdoors to use.... anyway... even though there is something a bit trendy about it, it is also truly healthier not to sit around too much. And that includes us readers - one reason that listening to books is not such a bad thing!
- two young men have come up with using mushroom mycelium as a binder with organic materials (say old corn leavings) that can make a totally degradable packing material to replace styrofoam which is one of the pollution evils of our devising. The material may also have other uses..... marvelous! One of the young men is from South Royalton VT and part of his expertise with fire (part of the process involves killing the mycelium when its work is done) is from running his father's boiling operation at his maple sugaring business. I Love it! Both men are at RPI.
-Cybercrime. This kind of article confirms my faith in why we do nothing financial on line even though it is tedious writing checks etc. I know that our bank keeps stuff on line and that probably info is available, but at least we have records of our own.
-Airborne turbines - Like giant kite things way high up that harvest the wind power. Lots of problems and issues to solve, but it's brilliant and probably workable.
-Cyber university learning. It's coming, so look out. I think, in the end, as in the 'end' of publishing, it is a complete paradigm shift and that the landscape is going to change with great swiftness. Only the flexible will survive.
-dementia care. Wow. This was so moving. I read this on the plane actually and started crying a little, so I had to stop. Too weird a thing to be doing in public..... so many big-little things one can do to help a person with dementia feel safe and cared for. As my mother was demented (I am quite sure half of it was her medications) it was wrenching to read, but I hope these ideas will take root. The place where my ma was did do a few of these things, but they regimented eating and while the manager slaved to make it more homelike she could only get so far. Brilliant!!!
-the story was about a young man with an allergy to his own blood (which reading the recent stuff about the fact we have more than one set of DNA is believable) - it was tough reading but also very good.
-the invention mini pieces by various invited writers were silly. I'm sorry. Just silly.
-the only other piece I read, was a piece 'Against Empathy' which was..... well-trodden ground. Why is it we respond to the plight of the little girl who falls down the well but not the 10,000,000 starving children around the world.
A last word: Review of the new Star Trek. Alas. They just don't get it. For me, the problem is that we call things high, middle, low...... NYer can't get Star Trek or they would lose their status as high...... but there IS no high middle low --- it is something else and shouldn't have quantitative labels put on it--- I wish I could explain what I know viscerally. I'm not saying it was a 'good' movie, I am saying it was exactly what it had to be to be true to itself.
Why can't I ever read these in order? Makes me worry about the state of my brain!
-David Koch - man, folks can dish it out but they can't take it - big money man didn't like a tv piece on himself so he threatens to withdraw his money. Well boo hoo.
- the usual terrible S&M (aptly named)
- stop and frisk. Does it work? Is it worth the erosion in privacy rights? That is the question here. Not a readily answerable one. New York has been enjoying an extraordinarily reduced crime rate, lawyers try to argue that the results are 'worth it' - but one judge isn't so sure. Interesting.
-Silicon Valley getting the idea they can throw their money around politically. Why am I not surprised. What pigs to not share their money at least with their own county school systems.
-the crowded apartment - that was a horrifying but also classically New York sort of tale, of a sociopathic fellow deciding he can pay off his debts by renting his great apartement to - well - everybody!
-Story - 13 wives. Well....... a gag story, kinda, but - jury is out on this one. Not too bad.
One more to go!
This issue took awhile to read despite several articles that didn't interest me all that much. Maybe it was just the busy disease....
- Kim Gordon. I don't even know who she is. How out of it is that? (And I don't care either)
- Sedaris - company man. About having guests - entertaining enough
- about a former sniper who tries to help others but is murdered by one of his 'clents' suffering from PTSD. Very woeful tale.
- Steck - professional mountain climber gets involved in a fracas on Everest - seems to herald end of his career. I expect Steck is telling 'the truth' but that the true problem was cultural, and the potential for a violent responsehad been building. It's possible too that in their own way the sherpas don't 'see' anything wrong with their response. Interesting story more for the difficulties of ascertaining the truth than the particulars.
-short story. I didn't quite get it, I guess.
-A book about Ripley. I was addicted to those books when I was about 11.
-Civil war at the met - I could almost go to NYC to see the Homers.
-Dashiel Hammett - it was, well, a Dashiel Hammett story.
-Shteyngart - memoir - pash for a terrible girlfriend!
-Annie P. interesting setting - but it was too predictable
-Ed Park - story built on what we reveal by the passwords we use on our computers - quite clever
-Sherman Alexie - burying the missing uncle - enjoyable
-Cormac McCarthy - bit of a screenplay - not my cuppa
Jjumpa Lahiri - brothers - pretty good
Walter Kirn - memoir - well, Kirn, you were a gullible nincompoop is all I can say. I do get a bit fatigued with NYer stories about socio and psychopaths. Enough awready
-piece on Hiassen - the florida detective genre in general.
Overall not bad, I sort of sighed when I saw it was a fiction issue, but I mostly enjoyed it.
-Privacy - sort of a history of the evolution of sanctioned secretiveness in government, quite interesting.
- Alzheimer's research it it the plaque or something else. No one knows.
-immigration reform. I tried v. hard to read this attentively.
-Japan and suicide. There is a cultural sanction for it that is hard to overcome.
-Story by Thomas McGuane - he is one of my favorite ss writers. This was a good one. Always surprising and engaging, serious and humorous.
-Piece on lyme. I know the basics, but it is depressing to learn that the tick also carries other diseases, obscure, hard to treat. It really is BAD. I'll be xeroxing this to give to folks who don't read the NYer.
-McPhee on golf balls. Well. McPhee can almost make a story about a golf-ball collecting mania interesting....
-S&M Soooooo New York
-Mali/Timbuktu. A friend of mine has devoted years to saving and protecting the literature hidden in Timbuktu - it is hard to read about how unstable it is there.
-Ed Ruscha. Artist. LA. I don't really cotton to that kind of hyper-realism.
-Mastiff. Odd, but that's Oates, innit.
-James Turrell at the Gugg - my spousal unit made a special trip to see it, and was not disappointed. say no more.
-The review of World War Z almost made me think about seeing it. Just for a sec.
-Jill Lepore - letters of Ben Franklin's sister. It is painful to read about the sisters of famous men of yore, nothing was expected of them but child-bearing, fortitude and silence, nothing was offered them - such talents wasted - oh - there were some more fortunate women - all of the upper echelons, belike. Bravo Jill for bringing Jane to our attention. If she was Ben's favourite sister then she must have been something special.
- Tibet. Such desperate acts.
-corruption in Guinea. I don't mean this flippantly, but why am I not surprised. I don't understand rapacious business people. Raping the earth and ruining people's lives is just a game to them. Shame on you.
-LCD screens - this was fun and sort of interesting.... so many things we take for granted that require an unbelievable depth of techno savvy and precision and LCD screens are one such of many.
-Tobias Wolff - man discovers his wife is not who he thought she was....
- shifts in voting rights laws. No, we are not ready for this, but perhaps we can survive it?
-Egypt - skimmed.
-S&M - not funny to me
-Domestic Violence. Fascinating. Excellent. In some areas - in this case Massachusetts - new strategies have been formed to assess just how MUCH danger a person might be in from a murderous attack by an abuser. Pinpointing that more accurately can permit social workers and police to form a strategy for protecting the victim, particularly, in such a way that they don't have to go into hiding, which takes a ruinous toll on the victim's life - kind of like a double punishment.
-Beaches in NJ. My grandfather use to rave and rail about the Army Core of Engineers, his point being, that some things are just not meant to be, that tinkering with 'mother nature' (in this case 'father ocean') is a bad bad bad idea. Seabrook's piece confirms my grandfather's wisdom.
-illegal egg collecting. What a bunch of creeps! And why only men? That is possibly the weirdest piece of all.
-Story - David Gilbert/The Farther Room. It was intriguing but never quite pulled together for me. I hated the ending, total cop-out.
-memoirs of children of great writers. It's easy to pick out the terrible fathers - and I suppose, now that there will be more of us, terrible mothers who are devoted to -- well - any career. How is Tolstoy worse than some guy obsessed with hedge funds who never comes home either?? Sorry. I think the whole topic is self-indulgent. My father wasn't a famous writer and he was an impossible man, utterly impossible. Yet he had students (he was a prof) who profited from his teaching. Maybe some of them got something from him that the eight of us never did? If so, I'm glad that he was of some use to someone.
-Pat Marx on brain games..... makes sense to me. A fun article.
- The talented and ambitious Aldridge family, black actor/singer/musicians from the 19th century. Found refuge in Europe. Surprisingly friendly w/Wagner family. Today they would all be celebrated, I expect.
-Slow Ideas - Gawande on why some ideas take more time and more effort on the part of the disseminators to catch on. Example of anesthesia vs antispectic procedures..... the one benefitted the surgeons as much as the patients, more motivation.... the latter required more effort on the part of the staff and (mostly) benefitted only the patients..... The only way to properly teach the 'slow' ideas is in person. No kidding! Why are we always re-inventing the wheel?????
-cooking - dnr - it's art, I guess, and then you eat it.
-fiction, Collector/Daniel Alarcon. Too --- political.
-Sex and the City - never watched the program
-Edmund Burke, vague enough to be all things to all men.....
-The Hirschhorn installation in NYC this summer.
A decent issue all around. I might pull out the Brain Games and Slow Ideas for the S.U.
-Cecile Richards - one of my heroes.
-Shteyngart on the latest gadget - google eyeglass. Ugh. Another way to die a miserable death.
-Trial by Twitter How murky these affairs always are. How often the wrong people get hurt the most.
-Millepied - dnr
-Shirley Jackson - Paranoia - sweetly old-fashioned horror/suspense!
-Maggie Thatcher - not looking good thirty-odd years later. Coulda told you so.
An ok issue - except for the Richards piece, not too riveting.
- women's pro baseball. Fun!
- poisoned land. Kidney disease in the Balkans. Scary stuff!
- civil forfeiture. This is nothing less than a nightmare of abuse of a law by police. Shame. Vermont does not indulge. Thank god.
- ousider artists. Great article. I loathed 60 minutes when it was the big thing, loathing confirmed.
- zadie smith - dystopic - excellent story up to the end when it falls off a little
- I'll be watching out for Broadchurch!!!
Not very lengthy notes, but this is a fine issue!!! 3 really good articles and one that was sort of readable (baseball/sports generally don't interest me). One to go!
- Annals of Strange People - A man who forges work and gives it away for free. Amazing what people do, innit?
-S&M Pretty funny actually, 'Tribal Rite of the Strombergs' Simon Rich
-Medical autoimmune disease. Read with interest as we've got a good bit of it running amok in my own family. Well done.
-Big Apple piece - After Bloomberg, well, readers, I skimmed it.
- International piece - refugee city in Jordan. Painful reading, but also amazing how humans organize themselves in certain ways.
-Fiction - Yu Hua Victory - it had some moments, but a bit meh.
-Ava Gardner - read this with great interest - she's fascinating on screen.
-panda reproduction. What a sad state we have come to! Like everyone else the Chinese will suddenly wake up to the treasures they have destroyed. We can hope anyway.
-India/ anti-corruption politics. I wish him well.
- S&M was kind of funny, actually.
-Tennis player..... skimmed
-The liberal media. Won't ever have the appeal of the rabble rousing conservatives who, pure and simple, are way more fun to watch or listen to on the teev. Won't ever be popular because of being generally reasonable, thoughtful, kind and empathetic people who prefer to help, try constructive innovative ways to etcetera. Fewer liberals beat up their spouses, abuse children, ignore marital vows, divorce etcetera. What does that tell you? Pathetic, innit? By the way, I don't believe in liberal and conservative labelling - we each have the right to think differently about every single issue. Don't let the media define you. For them it's only about ratings.
-Coover. Oh he is a creepy dude.
-Julia Cameron's photographs - now this was a great article and I think I have to run right to the Met website and order the inevitable book that must be part of the show!
decent issue overall. Took me forever to read it though.
-traumatized soldiers. a must read. Talk and more talk and then more talk. Storytelling - it's really how we make sense of the world.
-sharks on the Cape. another must read! At least for me since I swim on those beaches!
-claire danes - we tried Homeland, but it feels too manipulative. She's good though.
-NYU guy, he sounds nuts to me.
-the heron, story, creepy
-doping, genetics, sports. Interesting - what to do? I expect there will soon be genetic manipulation that is allowed.
-Gopnik on neuroscience (reviews) - worth reading - we will always be more than a sum of our neurons?
This was a strong issue!
-from Flannery's O'C's journal - letters to God. I'm nonplussed, I'm afraid
-Unreality star - how psychosis shifts - these days people think they are secretly being filmed for a reality show.... poignant.
-Obama and the pipeline. Sigh
-Bryan Cranston. I skipped this altogether
-By Fire - this seemed cliched to me
-skimmed Hollywood and Nazis.
A lackluster issue.
-Eileen Fisher - Well, I've been a big fan since about 1987, so I enjoyed it. I did think Malcolm made too big a deal about the way the company is run - 'femineered' or whatever you want to call it. She sounded ..... skeptical and to me, negative and kind of making fun of them as if the women are all kind of silly and pretentious and as if Fisher was just pretending to be humble. So, yeah, Malcolm was annoying. Not the right person to write the piece. Men can read it and snort, and be dismissive. who cares how a company is run as long as the people who work there are happy, the product is a good one etcetera? Maybe there is something to learn? That didn't seem to occur to the bemused Malcolm.
-Bustle - on the other hand,...... why is there some guy masterminding this magazine.
-David Adjaye was good to read about - I'm impressed!
-Garment district - attempt to revive. Also a nice piece.
-rag and bone - I loathe this kind of photography.
-Tessa Hadley fiction. Good story - simple but effective - moral: don't make assumptions!
A fair issue
-Somali chef. The guy is either a saint a genius or nuts! Wow!
-Las Vegas and dancing. Well, it's better for you than gambling.
-shadow commander. could not pay close attention, but I tried..... point being..... heavy iranian involvement in what is going on in Syria.
-Edith Windsor. A three hankie story, loved it.
-Joshua Ferris, fiction. Didn't work for me.... but it wasn't terrible either..... it did capture that restless feeling of missing out on something better.....
-immediately went to see some Key and Peele skits - they are good! Golly, I am so pathetically out of it with no teev!
-Philip Roth. Ambivalence about both Updike and Roth, (best and worst of that generation and men in general) but still it was fascinating to read about their friendship, and Bellow and Roth.
-Egypt's preachers trying to keep the peace -scan
-The new Guardian-skimmed
-Opera - skipped
-Theroux story. Pretty decent, a bit too clever for my tastes.
-Allan Gurganus. I read this attentively - I loved Oldest Living Confederate Widow Tells All.
This was a quick read for me as I find myself unable to pay attention to most of the pieces written about the Middle East, no matter how hard I try, I don't retain any of it, so I've stopped trying. I've read Fromkin's A Peace to End all Peace and a few others about the area, so I'm not a total ignoramus, but .... I think I find the attitudes too extreme and issues frightening, and therefore hard to absorb. Not an excuse.
The only two pieces are read at all attentively were about Roth and Gurganus. Now there are two rather different writers!
Should also add - the font and layout have been changing week by week, subtly and not so subtly..... will this prove wise or foolish? My aunt loathes it. She also doesn't get half the cartoons anymore and doesn't like the covers either, mourning Sempe. I'm not sure I agree - I'm not even sure how much I care. I've only ever thought one cartoon in...... thirty or forty was truly funny, maybe one cover in ten worth a true second look, although I find many of them amusing and some grow on you.
- Seabrook on hit singers.... did not even bother even though I like Seabrook's writing.
-Rush - What happens to a village (hamlet?) when a highway runs through it..... good and bad as you might expect. This is, however, a classic NYer story, a little bit off the beaten path, a personal narrative, a bit rambling, but that pulls you fully into a different world. Kudos.
-San Fran and business. Read attentively. Sounds like fun and I like the explosion of men in suits. Banish them forever, I say!
-law firm self-destructs. Ouch. What did I just say about men in suits? Maybe they should be out in some savannah wearing loincloths, carrying spears and huntin' some big game. That's all it is, really. Not about actually helping people with legal problems. As an article, though, it was fine.
-McCall's fireplace. ha ha
-Vapnyar story. Didn't get the point. Or..... did I, and I still don't get it. This felt like a workshop story to me, but not even clever.
-Henry Wallace. Complex fellow. I never trust people who can get swept up like that - what is interesting really is how good and sensible he was about core agricultural matters and what a wingding otherwise.
-book on arsenic poisoning fad, 19th. Read quickly.
-Elizabeth Smart - how she is now. Smart's refusal to be a 'victim' or to permit anyone to 'judge' her experience from the outside is admirable.
-Lydda. It is always so tempting to pinpoint a specific time and place as 'the' cause of 'everything', but what do I know. Certainly the events at Lydda would stand as a template for everything that went wrong in the (possibly impossible) creation of the state of Israel.
-Jack Dorsey. I find him creepy. I loathe twitter and all its spawn.
-changes in Cuba - the popular crime writer Padura. Great piece, fascinating.
-I vividly remember this story when it was first published here and I question republishing it without explaining the logic of doing so. I love Alice Munro but her books sell just fine and this homage in the NYer is a waste of space. In fact the constant homage to a small group of established writers has always annoyed me in this magazine, sticking to what's safe is dull.
-Norman Mailer. What a dude!
-over and under population. yes, well. Even if the more educated have fewer children (we) hog all the money and resources and (our) progeny will thrive for some time to come, innit? I sometimes find these articles are like haranguing sermons in churches made to the well-to-do. You know, some weird kind of atonement. Not to say I don't care, I do care, but whatever will happen will be utterly unexpected. Of that I am sure.
This issue had a lot in it, mostly interesting or just interesting enough to require closer reading, so it took FOREVER to read.
-Sedaris's somewhat bizarrely off essay about his sister's suicide. Written too soon after the fact. How did the NYer let this be printed?
-Boredom reconsidered. Yawn. Been there done that. No, seriously, this was a stupid piece. I'm terribly sorry but it was. Only an urban person would think of it.
-Homeless in NY. No explanation of the why. A picture of how people are coping. Implication is that the bureaucracy is unwieldy.....
-Alexander Payne. Love his movies. Was this a plug somehow, however.
-Samsa in Love - Fabulous story!!!
-Jack London - golly what a life.
Nothing else caught my attention sufficiently to comment on.
-the hottest pepper. Now I get it - the pain causes a person to release endorphins. I'd rather go running.
-greek yogurt. I like Chobani so it was fun to read about the genesis of a company. I've switched to a local organic brand, even better. The price for 'big' is, of course, less quality. Sad but unavoidable.
-bread. I don't like the title, which has a weird implication of some creepy interrelation of women with bread, but other than that I enjoyed it. Gopnik hasn't figured out yet though, that it can make people feel uncomfortable and inadequate and even angry to read about such cool parents - although I am also suspicious. It's almost as bad as people obliviously talking about dysfunctional parents (I used to do that) but less interesting and more annoying. It made me think a little of the recent Sedaris gaffe, which was far far worse, where a piece supposedly about his sister's suicide wasn't really about that. This piece had the same lack of focus. For the record - I made my own clothes, taught my mother how to make bread, made candles, made anything and everything I could think of from 15 to about mid-twenties when I started to get that there is only so much time in a life. Yet I never would use a machine to knead bread. I mean, what's the point of that?
-eating animals - well - I couldn't read it because it was another piece that seemed to jump around and I couldn't get a handle on the writer's pov. Anyway food taboos are what they are. They change under duress, they flourish in times of plenty. Humans will, if we survive, end up eating very little meat.
-italian super chef. Yawn. I stopped trying when the author was in a car driven by the master chef who was careening around in italian city traffic while shouting on the phone in the throes of creative inspiration. Not for me.
-Thomas McGuane -- LOVED the story, love the guy. You never quite know where McGuane is going to take you. Fabulous. Kudos NYer for plugging this guy.
-skimmed the rest...... nothing there caughtmyeye.
-a Hungarian anti-semite discovers his Jewish heritage.... his g-ma, survivor of Auschwitz, was still alive in her nineties and the evidence couldn't be denied. Of course, his life is transformed.
-quite amusing - the shouts -
-geeks provide insurance for farmers. I wrote a huge paper on agri-business in college for a poli-sci class. Glad this is happening. The Federal insurance system is terrible and wasteful - not saying it isn't also necessary, just that it is a dino. It was already a dino forty years ago!
-piece on the SEC - Skimmed - not my world, not even close.
-Doctor Who at fifty. Read intently, of course. I think I may have seen one or two of the very early shows..... but I got more interested when the second doctor was around, the one with the very curly hair. The new doctor resembles him slightly, in fact. Now, this is MY world!
-best piece this time on Marianne Moore a marvelous poet and interesting woman indeed. Her mother sounds like Grendel's mother or worse. What would Marianne have been without her? You can only wonder.
-Also an interesting review of The Decameron a book I have never even attempted to read, but have read about so that I almost feel I have.....but I probably never will, will I?
-Ariel Levy's disastrous trip to Mongolia. It's a piece in the category of - there is nothing you can say.
-Guy walks into bar was reasonably funny
-cooking grease, the next big thing. This was a strangely compelling story. Sympathies are with the littler guys.
-On legalizing pot - I've been thinking about some of those complexities - this is a good article.
-Looters in Upper Egypt - this was also a very solid and interesting piece on the effect of the politics in the north of Egypt on the remote south. There they have mainly kept things going more or less as always.
-Eugenides story - had energy and interest, but didn't end up anywhere.
-review of the new Goodwin book on TR and Taft and the period of progressive reforms pre-ww1.
- you tube weapons expert - unemployed guy takes on the task of identifying weapons used in Syria. Amazing - he is the one who has confirmed use of chemical weapons. A plus story
-the (not so) new corporate image. Well, why I am not surprised. This piece was of some interest, but not quite enough
-Kim Tingley writes about computer chips under the skin. I ripped this one out to have around and show the spouse. A plus. And extra points for the coincidence of author's name and subject matter.
- Love App - interesting too - I find that the cell phone has increased 'intimacy' around my family and made it easy to feel connected to my teenaged daughter with photos and small uninvasive messages. These piece fits with those benefits.
-self-driving car. I am one who CANNOT WAIT. I'm more afraid of other effing drivers out there effing texting and yakking and all the rest. I've this article out too.
-the story didn't grab me at all. It just seemed tediously obvious where it was headed, uh, so to say, from the very beginning.
Two articles ripped out makes it an A issue, despite the bad story. The non-fiction is the NYers real strength anyhow.
-mozzarella - classic calvin, nice.
-no, team, no. nada
-pollution in China. Well, this is an old story. How long will it take the powers-that-be to figure out that the pollution costs more than being clean?
-Art Boom I hate reading about this stuff. The older I get the way the rich rich rich spend their money sickens me. It really does. It's about money and 'value' not about the art itself. Ugh
-custody battle. This was a tough one - clearly Niveen has 'issues' and equally clearly American cultural values and the social work bureaucracy have gotten in the way of even attempting how to figure out how to help her adjust and care for both of her children. Horrible, depressing story really.
-Gunesekera story - brilliant, I loved it. Didn't think the title 'Roadkill' was quite right though.
-Tried to read about political polarization - and Burke/Paine - not sure that is the crux of it, tho it is one angle certainly.
-James Wood on the novel. I felt a sort of ho-hum as I read this. Not sure what it was doing in the NYer.
-Paul Simm's in shouts and murmurs had me gasping with laughter - a send up of herbal supplements VERY funny.
-insomnia meds. It gives me the creeps up the wazoo to think of all that scheming to overcome what is largely a problem of physical inaction and our culture's fabulous arrogance. (Lights burning bright all the time, people working all hours of day and night).
- Our broken constitution. Read this carefully and while there are pieces that don't work, and it certainly needs updating, most problems seem to rise from abuse - dodges and tricks to get around intentions. Also - I think at this point to get worked up about small and large states is a waste of time as each state has had a hundred years and more to develop its own character etc. and also.....I suspect there is a virtue in the inequity, the weakling can overthrow the bully and this is as it should be. Of course, I live in a puny state now, but I have lived in two very large, corrupt and populous ones.
That was all I read...... scurried past Benjamin Britten - sang a lot of his stuff in high school.... never warmed up to it.
-Kolbert on extinction part one - as always, beautifully written and terrifying.
-S&M not that funny a little bit strained
-kirsten Gillibrand - wow, what a dynamo!
-intelligence, can it be reformed. Well, first the constitution now the CIA!!!! Seriously, intelligence agencies seem to me to be inherently vulnerable to corruption - the kind brought about by the best of intentions, which can be the worst! I don't know, truly, how to look at the cyber privacy issue, it's a monolith and a nightmare. I guess it is a question of how much money do you throw at the problem. If it saves millions (say - someone trying to nuke Israel or NYC) then it's worth it, to save one person or twenty? Is it worth delving into the private lives of millions? Probably not. There is a correlation though between cyber-crime and cyber-poking around - everyone feels free to give it a whirl, it seems. In some way - if you are out there on the 'net you've already given up your privacy to some degree and we all know it.
- The NYer just loves these big-time eccentric swindlers and forgers. I wonder why that is?
-Second Kolbert article - horrifying also, but with a most interesting focus on a new discipline - the stratigraphy of the future. And with that renaming our era not as the holocene, but as the Anthropocene - the argument being we have disturbed the surface of the earth in unique and never to be erased ways. Bravo!
- saudi women selling lingerie. Progress! On the whole a hopeful piece.
-influencers - I tore it out so I must have found it funny, but now I can't find it and can't remember what was so funny!
-Person You Never Heard Of: Jakubowski the do-it-your-selfer. Well, he sounds - both inspired and impossible and I concluded, based on this article if it is truthful, an idiot. Given the funding he received he could easily make this an easier and more attractive and more successful process. Trailers for folks to live in, power etcetera with the idea that you would gradually move AWAY from those aids and comforts as each idea succeeded. He is confusing two things together - the project and the process. People would stay, work hard, and get things done if they were warm and fed and could relax comfortably. He just LIKES it to be hair-shirty and difficult and that makes him a bad leader. It's too bad because his ideas are clearly brilliant. I ended up really furious after reading it. I wouldn't give him a penny unless he agreed to let someone else manage the human details and that he would put up and shut up. He obviously hasn't a clue. I'm mad because I think people like him give sustainability a bad name - like only kooks are into it.
-The Pope? I read the whole article quite carefully and came away baffled. Is he a good guy or only pretending to be one? Beyond washing feet to show his humility what else is there, of substance. The title of the piece says it all "Who Am I to Judge?" Carroll, is it or the pope?
-Intelligent Plants - OK WELL - this is the kind of piece I buy the NYer for. Ferreting out some arcane-seeming but in fact hugely important bit of research and thinking going on...... Plants are 'intelligent' in a different way from us, probably in a collective way, and also in a chemically sensitive way that we can barely conceive of. And scientists - once again revealed to be a crotchety lot - they don't like the idea of calling studying plant intelligence as 'neurological' and by rejecting the term,a goodly number of them try to reject the inquiry, which is just plain bizarre to me. Enough however, make that distinction and are both interested and open to the investigations. We are a bit stuck on the idea of centrally located intelligence as that is how we experience it.... or think we do......
-The story, A Christmas Miracle by Rebecca Curtis is both awful and quite wonderful (awful as in excrutiating and funny)
-glanced at Ellington/Beatle review (of books about)
And that's a wrap for 2013!!!!
Sorry. My entire life is backlogged. Appreciate that you're catching up with NYer again. I'm keeping my subscription, and may try to figure out how to incorporate it once I get other things under control.
However I must confess I am not sure what issue the hotel staff actually threw away - it doesn't appear to be a March issue, which is what I thought I was working on..... Oh dear. I have March 25 here. I'll have to check my pile. Problem at the mo' is I have a cat on my lap.
This week the New Yorker cover has been cited in the NYTimes and other places as beyond the best as a comment on ex-representative Anthony Weiner's preoccupation with phone and text sex. Can't wait to see it in the flesh, so to speak.