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The New York Review of New Yorkers for September 29th

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Cover

Barry Blitt’s cover this week is like a funny haha joke about football players getting arrested. Though it is timely, there has been a lot of news recently about players and the law, it isn’t entirely accurate (yes, I do realize that post is from 2013). I would argue that the greater criminals in the NFL are the owners and their chosen commissioner, who often commit greater crimes. Crimes against their own players, crimes against their fans, or just general crimes. Of course we only really talk about the players, some of whom’s acts are truly reprehensible, while the old rich white dudes sit back and count their money. Maybe Barry knows this? Maybe that’s why the guy on the cover is white? This cover made me chuckle but then bummed me out!

Talk of the Town

Ben McGrath leads off with more about the NFL and makes some of the points that I made above. He goes in pretty hard on the NFL league office and their handling of recent scandals and IT IS DELIGHTFUL. After a cover that seemed to be pretty tone deaf on this issue this, albeit brief, examination of the real villains of this story and the possible repercussions of their ineptitude was welcome and reassuring. After that a thing about an actress named Lisa Dwan doing a very difficult Samuel Beckett piece and I couldn’t really read it because I kept being distracted by the fact that her last name is Dwan and not Dawn. A brief internet search does confirm that yes, this actresses name is Dwan and that this Beckett thing is CA-RAZY. Then there is a thing about whale watching and a dude who takes photos of whales which sounds cool but I think it also probably involves a lot of cold mornings on boats carrying gear and that sounds not so cool. I could not do that because I don’t really have what they call “sea legs”, I have what could be described best as “couch legs”. Next we get something about fancy airline food and I hope somebody in the New Yorker offices read this piece while doing Jerry Seinfeld impersonation. There is a thing in there about how people’s sense of taste can change in while on an airplane and that is kind of fascinating. Apparently everything tastes blander on airplanes and apparently I really want some cassoulet right now because they talk about it in the thing and I haven’t had it in a long time and fall is coming and, though I actually have no idea, I feel like cassoulet in fall should be good. Finally a thing about a musician I’ve never heard of going to a record store and buying records, it is just as boring as it sounds. She does buy a Randy Newman record but it is not this Randy Newman record so it is a dumb thing for this musician to buy.  

Annals of Law

Jeffrey Toobin writes about the people trying to get damaging things about themselves off of the internet which is pretty haha. The idea of removing not positive things about oneself off of the internet is tricky, we’ve entered into this weird bargain with online life and I feel like the bad things we do being around forever is a consequence of it. Toobin, of course, starts of the article with a unique case that sounds super horrifying, the family of a woman who died in a very intense car crash trying to get the crime scene photos removed from the internet. A no doy Jeff, in this case there should be some sort of recourse, but the case in the European courts that has lead to legislation is a little more flimsy. Forgetting the irony of Europeans, who’s identities are often wrapped up in their shared national histories, wanting to control how their stories are presented, it seems dangerous to put that power in people’s hands. The real solution would be for us as humans to become waaaaaaay less judgmental and understand that our fellow people are not perfect. Besides, if stuff like this was allowed in the US richie riches would just use it to erase that time they were racist in prep school.

Shouts & Murmurs

Did not read

Personal History

Oh boy, this article gave me FEELINGS. The easy snark for this article is that is should be called “Comfortable White People Cannot Agree on Whether or Not to Have Kids, Are Sad.” It also seems like this could have been the plot of every American novel of the mid 2000s, but Meghan Daum managed to get past my outer candy shell of irony and made me feel actual emotion while reading, it was horrible (j/k! IT WAS GREAT). It also got me thinking about children and why we have them and whether or not we should. WARNING, THESE THOUGHTS ARE WEIRD AND A LITTLE DARK. Sometimes I think that people who have children are assholes. This world has lots and lots of people, like lots and lots and lots and it becomes less habitable by the day, so who the fuck do people think they are that there should be more of them in the world? Also people are all fucked up, we all have problems, some are worse than others, these problems are often not not being worked on by the people who have them. I think it’s kind of terrible to bring another person onto this planet and willfully put them under your care if you can’t even get your own shit straightened out. Also, sometimes I see people having kids as a retirement of their own ambitions and desires and an acknowledgment of their own failures in that department. A sort of “those that can’t do, teach” except with life instead of whatever other thing that’s about. SEE, WEIRD AND DARK, and mean, I should have said that these thoughts were kind of mean also. I know, from movies and stuff, that there is no perfect time to have kids and that movie Idiocracy did freak me out about dumb people having kids but jeez, the whole thing needs a little deeper thought. Sorry I made this all about me Meghan Daum, your story was good and sad but I have my own FEELINGS. Also, sorry friends who have kids, this is not about you, yes your baby/toddler/child is cute.

A Reporter at Large

Dexter Filkins, who has one of if my favorite names on the writing staff of the magazine, writes about the Kurds, who seem pretty rad (this would probably be the Vice headline of their version of the this article “The Kurds, They Seem Pretty Rad” and then the sub-head would probably have something to do with drugs or heavy metal). The Kurds have been kicked around for a while by their neighbors in the region, it really seems like nobody liked them, not the Iraqis, not the Iranians, not the Turks, but they currently seem to be the only “winners” to come out of the Iraq War (not counting ISIS, who gets their weekly mention in the magazine in this article). In yet another f’up by our government, it seems like we don’t want them to be independent? This is stupid, the article presents a strong proud people who want nothing more than to control their own future. That are interested in created a secular democratic state in a region that has not so much of that. Isn’t what all of these unfortunate military endeavors are supposed to foster? For some reason we’re still interested in the face saving idea of a United Iraq but that ship has sailed dogz, let’s let the Kurds do them for a little while. The worst that can happen is that we gain a strong democratic ally in the region with a tough military which would be nice since the other one of those that we have is Isreal and they are, um, problematic right now.

Profiles

Alice Gregory writes about her alma mater, Bard College, and its longtime president, Leon Botstein. I’m generally not a fan of these things where a person writes an article about where they went to college, it seems really clubby and inside baseball to me. Also, this profile has the stink of the New Yorker profile formula all over it. Start in the modern moment setting a scene, second break get more personal, third break pull back further, fourth break go into the personal history of subject, spend rest of profile detailing central conflict of subject, be sure to include some minor detail early in the profile about the subject that you can use a metaphor for the the subject themselves to wrap up the article. In this case the personal detail from the first act that goes off in the third is Leon Botstien’s pocket watch collection, which seems like it might be the ur-personal detail for these profiles. Mr. Botstein, who’s last name makes him sound like a slur that future anti semites will throw at robots that do accounting (I can make that joke because I’m jewish, a belated Shana Tova to everybody out there!), seems like a very interesting person, terrible personal habits of liking pocket watches and wearing a bow tie aside. This is to say this article was still interesting despite the intense seam showing. Bard college sounds like a fascinating place to go to school, but I’m glad I didn’t go there because I think it would have made me even more insufferable than I already am.

Fiction

Did not read.

The Critics: Books

I tried to read this but then I realized it was about a book that takes place in a “traditional Irish setting” and I was like, nope nope nope.

Books

I was into Martin Amis for a minute there in the early 2000s, mostly because I had a crush on a girl who said Time’s Arrow was here favorite book. I think I read two or three more before I realized that making yourself like something that someone you have a crush on likes is a dumb way to get someone to like you, unless that person is equally dumb (the girl I had a crush on was not dumb at all). I remember kind of liking the books enough that I thought about buying a used copy of London Fields for two dollars. I didn’t, but that’s because I’m a real ditherer when it comes to buying books not because of Martin Amis. It appears that Mr. Amis, who I would introduce at a book reading like he was Martin Lawrence (in this fantasy I would also have the jacket from this video), is going back to writing about Nazis apparently and Joyce Carol Oates thinks that his new book is okay but not amazing, thanks for sharing Joyce! Yes, I’m as surprised as you are that I read an entire article that started with an Adorno quote.

On Television

More TV Nuss-Bombs from everyone (or at least just my) favorite TV critic. This time our old pal Emily writes about a show that I tried watching but was to painful for me to continue, Happy Valley, and a show I’m not going to watch, Transparent, because it is on Amazon and they are indeed the worst. I’m glad that it is said that Happy Valley is a torturous watch, I could feel the pit in my stomach forming before the end of the first episode and I really like being right. I’m sad that I’m too much of a softie to watch the rest of it because Em-dog makes it sound really good, while simultaneously taking shots at that Fargo show that people seemed to like and that Gracepoint show that will certainly be bad. I’m also sad that Transparent is on Amazon because it also sounds really good but I’m trying very hard not to give those people my money, I know that I sound like that one person who says that they’re not on facebook (the new “I don’t even own a tv”) but Amazon sucks and no one should give them their money. I would love to see more Jeffrey Tambor at all times and maybe find out if I like Gaby Hoffman or am just entranced by her eyebrows but a dude has to take a stand someplace.

The Current Cinema

Another thing that I tried to read but then was stymied when it became clear that the first movie being reviewed was about grey-ass 1984 England and I had read enough of the magazine anyway.

THERE IT IS GUYS, THAT WAS A FUN ONE DESPITE ALL OF MY BITCHING. SEE YOU NEXT WEEK!

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upnorthtrips:

On this day in 1991, A Tribe Called Quest released their second album, The Low End Theory.

THIS WAS A VERY IMPORTANT DAY FOR MY LIFE

upnorthtrips:

On this day in 1991, A Tribe Called Quest released their second album, The Low End Theory.

THIS WAS A VERY IMPORTANT DAY FOR MY LIFE

The New York Review of New Yorkers for September 22nd

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Cover

Supposedly this is the style issue of the New Yorker but with this cover it feels like it’s the fundraising cocktail party for someone’s trip to Burning Man issue of the New Yorker. Lorenzo Mattotti, your comics are okay but this is the second stinker of a cover you delivered in the last couple of months, you are approaching my es-haitch-it list.

Talk of the Town

We start off with more about ISIS and what we (or at least people who represent us) are going to do about it. Apparently there is some sort of checks and balances thing in the government that is supposed to prevent our presidents from going to war or something? I don’t know, it seems like that is a made up thing but this article seems to disagree. I guess this is one of those to-mae-to/to-ma-to situations, right? After that something about a crazy person who lives in a canoe. I feel like every couple of weeks there’s some story about a dude living off the grid, I feel like it’s the magazine’s attempt to make up for all of the TotTs about richie riches. People seem to be into this stuff but I always think of these people as jerks, way to quit on the rest of the world canoe dude. Next up a think about the guy who directed that new Tina Fey/Jason Bateman movie that I know is going to be terrible (I do enjoy the work of those actors but generally if you see either of their names on a movie poster, run and run fast). The guy, Shawn Levy, has directed a bunch of kind of crappy family movies that have made a bunch of money but apparently this movie is his passion project. He lets us know by telling us they only shot the movie for 19.5 million dollars and that he took only five percent of his regular fee, OH BOY THANKS DUDE. The articlet (that is a term I’m trying out, what do you think?) takes place at the house where he shot the movie and at one point the woman who lives in the house sees the writer and subject out on the lawn and can barely hide her displeasure about the whole experience, this is the best part of the articlet. Then a thing about a woman who takes photos of super old stuff that sounds like a thing that would cool for a website but I’ll be damned if I ever buy a book of photos of anything again. SORRY EVERYONE WHO MAJORED IN PHOTO, YOU AND JOURNO MAJORS CAN GET TOGETHER FOR A DEAD MEDUIM SUPPORT GROUP.

The Financial Page

This is a great story about giving houses to homeless people in freaking UTAH of all places. The program that has been going on since 2005 has not only contributed to people escaping homelessness and being able to better accept the other social programs that available to them but also has saved the government of Utah money. This whole thing sounds awesome. MORE HOUSES FOR HOMELESS PEOPLE!

A Reporter at Large

Nick Paumgarten profiles the creator of the Go Pro camera and surveys the culture of videotaping everything. I have mixed feelings about a Go Pro, it’s cool that I can see how much I would dislike extreme sports without having to do them but when I see someone on the East River Ferry videoing himself doing the Lonely Island “I’m on a Boat” routine into one it makes me want to set all of them around the world on fire simultaneously with my mind. Paumgarten goes through the founding and expansion of the company and that’s interesting but I’ll never recall that information. There is a cool story at the end about dudes who jumped off One World Trade Center last year while wearing Go Pros. They totally got arrested.

Shouts and Murmurs

Did not read.

Profiles

I do not claim to know anything about ballet other than it seems to make your feet super gross and that my family would always talk about going to the Nutcracker when I was kid but for some reason we never did (I always thought it was because we were Jewish). This article about the ballerina Misty Copeland, and also race in ballet, did not illuminate me too much outside of how ballet, like many things in western culture, is still and has been pretty not so nice to african americans. This article was super long and kind of boring but I feel bad saying that because Misty Copeland seems awesome and it’s cool that she can get kids into things other than taking pictures of themselves but I still don’t care about ballet. 

Annals of Entertainment

Now we’re talking, Jill Lepore writing about the crazy history of the man who invented Wonder Woman and the history of feminism and birth control and women’s rights and sexuality in the early 20th century and all sorts of other stuff is the kind of New Yorker article that I go nuts for. To be honest, I’m still processing this one. That the big revelation that the dude who invented Wonder Woman lived in an alternate lifestyle with two women, one of whom was Planned Parenthood founder Margaret Sanger’s niece, is just a part of a larger story about a wealth of topics is a credit to Lepore’s deft touch. FOR SURE READ THIS ARTICLE DUMMIES.

On and Off the Avenue

This article about full figured fashion is good and give a great look into a crossroads for clothes that were once called plus sized. I, as a white dude, feel a little uncomfortable talking too much about this since I really have no place telling people how to dress. Actually, that isn’t true, I have no problem in my day to day thinking that this person is wearing something stupid or the other person looks bad or even out loud saying that most hats are dumb or writing that anyone who wears flip flops away from a beach or a gym shower is a monster who should be sent to a special island that is all beaches and gym showers (although that island sounds kind of nice) or something. The truth is that I have no place telling women what to do with their bodies or what to wear. The conflict within the full figured fashion industry that is detailed towards the end of the article, that often women do not want fashionable full figured clothes because they eventually don’t want to be full figured so they won’t pay the extra money for something fashionable is pretty heartbreaking. I have no idea what to do about that. This article takes turns being celebratory of the movement towards more stylish full figured clothes and encountering the sadness and frustration of the conflict I previously referred to. Well done Lizzie Widdicombe.

Fiction

Did not read.

The Critics: Pop Music

Did not read.

A Critic at Large

Blah blah F. Scott Fitzgerald blah blah drinking blah blah no second acts in american lives is meaningless now blah blah blah ENOUGH ALREADY.

The Theatre

Did not read.

The Art World

I’m kind of an art dummy but Peter Schjeldahl writing about current shows for Helen Frankenthaler and Morris Louis makes me want to see their paintings so I suppose that makes this a successful article.

The Current Cinema

Anthony Lane talks about films from two people that lots of folks I know give way more of a shit about than I do, Terry Gilliam and Nick Cave. I liked Monty Python and Fisher King and Twelve Monkeys as much as the next nerd but I’m rushing out to see the movie even though Lane is halfway in praise of it. Maybe I’m just a grump. Grumpness seems to be a prime part of people who are into Nick Cave though, so why aren’t I into him? I don’t really know, maybe it’s his hair? Dude has terrible hair. Also he is Australian and I had some bad experiences and maybe I just need made up reasons not to get into things because there are so many things and y’know you have to say no to some of them. If that seems like a copout, well it kind of is but you don’t need to be such a hot penis about it.

THAT’S IT FOLKS! SEE YOU NEXT WEEK! 

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The New York Review of New Yorkers for September 15th

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Cover

Well, this is Saul Steinberg and it isn’t of a rich person unless you consider Mickey Mouse a person, because it kind of looks like Mickey Mouse, so that’s a step in the right direction but other than that this one is pretty meh.

Talk of the Town

We start off this week with David Remnick telling everybody to get off the president’s back about foreign policy already and I tend to agree. This president walked into an office so screwed up by his predecessor that just getting the rest of the world to work with us again was a major accomplishment. The United States will never be able to be the world’s policeman nor will it ever be able to disengage itself from affairs in other countries either so finding a third way needs to be muddled through and the president has certainly been doing that. Bonus points for Remnick soning all candidates for 2016 super hard in the process. After that a kind of token 9/11 remembrance piece that really got me about an electrician who took photos of the inside of the north tower while he worked the night shift. It left me wanting to but being scared of seeing these photos. Then a thing about the Brill Building and the last songwriting shop in there, uh, this was boring. Then, as if an alarm sounded in the magazine’s offices that they hadn’t written anything about a rich person or child of a famous in this TotT, a bit about the movie that Mike Nichols kid has made. It also refers heavily to The Graduate if you didn’t understand who Mike Nichols is. Lastly a thing about classical music or something that I really didn’t care about.

Annals of Comedy

Oh man did I love Bill Cosby. His eponymous show (the first one, not the one on CBS which was like only being allowed to listen to the midi version of your favorite song) was one of the last non-sports things that my family would watch together. When we went to see him at the Puyallup Fair he was amazing and the show was not too different than it is now as described by Kelefa Sanneh in his excellent if a little slight article on the Cos. Sanneh uses the release of a new and authorized, and implied somewhat anodyne, biography to trace the career of the man who seemed to be everyone’s dad in the 80s to his late career tours of the American hinterlands. Sanneh details his shift away from the radical in his early comedy career and how that lead to his success but also gave fuel to his detractors. He goes over Eddie Murphy’s famous routine from Raw, in which Murphy as Cosby admonishes Murphy for his use of coarse language (this is how I learned to impersonate Cosby, and it remains the only impersonation I can do with any acuity) as well as Cosby controversial Pound Cake speech of 2004. The Cosby of the 80s seemed joyful and amazing but now, in old age, he seems to have curdled into a cranky old man. Maybe I’ve gotten older or maybe it is the many allegations of sexual impropriety, some of which are detailed disturbingly in the article, that have turned me against a dude who was one of my heroes but man it is a bummer.

Shouts and Murmurs

Did not read.

Medical Dispatch

Once, a long time ago, a friend referred to The New Yorker as a “homework magazine” and while I bristled at the comparison, I totally admit that was a sick burn. Reading this article about a new and exciting cancer treatment made that joke reverberate in my head. I am, admittedly, a science dummy. I blame a high school biology teacher who seemed to take insane delight at showing us her formaldehyde scarred palms at every opportunity for my lack of interest in the subject (though it’s probably because I’m super lazy when it comes to the stuff and prefer subjects that I can bullshit my way through, but if you’ve read this far down you probably figured that out already). This article did not make this new cancer treatment exciting to me and that made me feel guilty because it is probably something I should care about. The guy who wrote is named Jerome Groopman though, that’s pretty cool.

Profiles

I’m not sure why you want to profile Al Pacino now, he really hasn’t done anything interesting in a while (outside of the theater, but that stuff doesn’t exist to me). I suppose it was interesting to find out why he has made so much garbage (and to be reminded of this insane commercial that you should stop reading this and watch immediately, I’ll wait) in the last few years (not to spoil it but he had a bad business manager) and to hear a story about how he punks Bill Belamy super hard then wipes bbq sauce off of his fingers. Other than that it was kind of rote slightly interesting New Yorker profile time, which is kind of great when you’ve never heard of the person before or when their profession hasn’t been overexposed to an insane degree. A pretty breezy read.

A Reporter at Large

This was the opposite of the “homework” article, a deep dive on a topic that deserves intense scrutiny. The plight of food service workers in today’s economy is heartbreaking and William Finnegan’s story about their struggle for union representation should be held up against the sneers of the ultra rich and dickheads that post things like this on the internet. It’s bad enough that people have to look to these jobs for a living wage, but to have their employers actively seeking out new ways to prevent this is verging on criminal. This story should be read by every free market asswipe out there. If you can come up with a good reason why the people profiled in this article do not deserve a living wage and that doesn’t invoke the idea that they should just “get a better job” or “get more education” then I will salute you. How a CEO that makes 1200% more than an employee can sleep at night is some serious delusional bullshit. The anger that comes from the other side of this argument boggles my mind, why are people so pissed that other humans just want a livable wage? 

Fiction

Did not read.

The Critics: A Critic at Large

OH BOY, MORE HOMEWORK! Seriously, just the phrase “Frankfurt School” gives me a fucking headache. This article is chiefly about the lives and ideas of Theodor Adorno (even this dude’s name in annoying, WHERE’S THE E TEDDY?) and Walter Benjamin (who is a close second to Ed Ruscha in the “really, his name is pronounced like that?” contest) and pop culture and blah blah blah blah. This all takes me back to my one semester of muddling through Marxist Literary Theory and my feeling it should not be taught in a place where pot is so readily available. I get that the ideas are important but jeez, can these dudes be spoken about in plain language ever? Or do the ideas always have to be presented as IMPORTANT. This is why everyone hates grad students.

On Television

Emily Nussbaum is entertaining again talking about one show she doesn’t like and one that she does. Unfortunately I was not going to watch either on of these tv shows anyway so thanks for playing Emily.

The Current Cinema

David Denby does better with persuasion if not with style then his fellow writer. Starred Up sounds like a movie I would watch after his review, which makes the movies interesting even if his writing about isn’t. The other movie sounds like a dumb band idea that Harvey Weinstein cooked up, NO THANK YOU.

THAT’S IT DOGGGGSSS, SEE YOU NEXT WEEK!

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