The New York Review of Books and the Village Voice were the bookends of my literary fantasies about New York and the East Coast in general, back when I had never been out here. Brainy/wild — lively/civilized … they could make you feel less lonely out in the thickets and ranges. One aspect I most admired about NY Review is that it was thorough.
See, here’s the problem with this title: if I’m in it, I can’t review it; if I’m not, it’s wrong.
(Real bad sign: don’t know how to spell “a cappella”.)
Charlie Pierces nails the fascinating parallels of outlook and language from Chuck Berry and Jimmy Breslin. Both miraculous, both mixed bags.
An important piece by Farhad Manjoo. The stupid tabloid mentality of too many news outlets now plays right into a tyrant’s agenda.
Here’s a key passage:
Unlike old-school media, today’s media works according to social feedback loops. Every story that shows any signs of life on Facebook or Twitter is copied endlessly by every outlet, becoming unavoidable.
On a horrid December week many years ago when John Lennon was assassinated, The Real Paper in Cambridge made a journalistic misjudgement as off-base as any I’ve ever encountered. The reasoning went: “Everybody is going to feature John Lennon. Let’s do Christmas instead.” The depth of the mistake is evident in picking a trivial automatic subject over a profoundly necessary one. Likewise, we now lack any focus on what’s important: “Trump’s popular. Cover Trump. Trump’s popular. Cover Trump.”
It’s been pretty clear in other countries that the actions, not the blithering blabber of the current tyrant, is what needs to be covered. What is the source and nature of all this rising savagery about “immigrants”?
But I vas dere, too, Davey, and I’m here to say King Donald is really Saint Ronnie with the bark off and the barking on.
RR was not a popular president — he was fiercely divisive. The last POTUS somebody tried to take down, remember?
Who cares what tone he projected? He pumped “family values” without having any himself, religious fanaticism without interest in church, drug wars that wallowed in racial profiling.
His movie-fantasy memory system was as alarming in its own way as the seething paranoia currently in charge.
He took credit for “ending the Soviet Union” when the place would have collapsed if Yehudi was President. He was a fan of the fantasy Star Wars defense system that would have made nuke conflict much more likely.
What difference does it make if the GOP “felt” different — the goals were identical: pamper right-wing superriches and the rest of you who take up space in this country are on your own.
Finally, the relentless distortion of Saint Ronnie and his legacy was the plainest warmup imaginable for the Big Lie strategy out in the open now.
Quite the extravagant career(s). (And life, really.) Ending up making a living at his first passion is quite a satisfying turn. (I vaguely knew he became a painter, but had forgotten.) In an era that doesn’t even bother with copy-editors, it’s a remarkable reminder of how much clout a visionary editor could have.
Of course, the downside is all that gossiping and the constant pecking-order adjustments. Clubs and cabals and cults — I miss the literary power I grew up with, but I don’t miss that aspect of it at all.
Thanks for not asking. It’s important to keep traditions intact. And the name change only reinforces my convictions.