A "hipster" is "a person who is unusually aware of and interested in new and unconventional patterns (as in jazz or fashion)." Or so says the eleventh edition of Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary. The extent to which that definition is insufficient and unsatisfactory in the modern era boggles the mind. So, naturally, during the past decade lots of people, publications and websites have attempted to fill in the Williamsburg-sized gaps in our understanding by crafting better, more expansive definitions. These efforts often fall short as well. To be fair, devising a comprehensive yet pithy definition is not easy in this case. (Give it a try. It’s like attempting [...]
"The Q&A column on March 10 with the travel blogger Matt Kepnes, about tips on keeping to a budget while on the road, sought his suggestions on which credit cards to use. One card he recommended was the Starwood Preferred Guest card from American Express. After the article was published, editors learned that Mr. Kepnes has a business deal with a vendor for the card in which he receives a payment every time someone is approved for the card through a link on his Web site. Had editors known of this relationship, they would not have included his suggestion." (via)
Of the many trends noted by the New York Times in recent years, perhaps this trend piece is the least controversial: "Owls are a staple of children’s books and cultural kitsch—here wooing pussycats in pea-green boats and delivering mail to the Harry Potter crew, there raising a dubiously Wise eyebrow in the service of snack food," the science section article notes. And yet, is there more to this kitsch animal transformed into an icon of modern style? Some say yes. Others—the owls, in particular—are most distinctive for what they have not said on the subject.
"A picture caption on Friday with an article about putting aside technology and to-do lists and exploring New York City misidentified the 'arugula-loving' vehicle shown in Brooklyn. It is a Land Rover, not a 'jeep.'"
Today's the day that the New York Times must deliver unto the cost-cutters 30 heads—from the editorial side alone. Not just any 30 heads: preferably, big-league, non-union managers.
And they've nabbed a few volunteers. In particular, a big four: Jim Roberts, assistant managing editor and 26-year veteran; Joe Sexton, at the paper since 1987, Jon Landman, also at the paper since 1987, and John Geddes, at the paper since 1994. The departure of four influentialTimes editors clears out major institutional knowledge, and as well, in some cases, probably some much-needed emotional space. But really, this is a huge senior bench of the paper. Geddes is co-managing editor for [...]
The human species is rapidly changing! Mostly not for the better, obviously, but some "futurists" believe their particular demographic (overeducated overpaid youngish professionals starting to worry about mortality) has already begun the process of becoming superhuman mutant cyborgs. Are you kind of depressed that you didn't get around to doing grown-up adult-type things until you were already (technically) middle-aged? Maybe it's okay, because you are the first generation of this new technological human-synthetic revolution! Or maybe you will physically and mentally deteriorate the way humans have always declined, unless they were lucky enough to be killed in a war or wiped out by a plague or eaten by saber-toothed tigers.[...]
I was recently at a tony wedding party—it was really fun! Hooray for love!—and all the women there were talking about, among other things of course, their dresses. It was all "Oh I got this at a sample sale" and the like. Everyone wanted to be clear that she hadn't paid full price. Many of them even hadn't. It was as if buying retail was a crime. And it was slightly scandalous (as if it were, like, 1890) that one somewhat New York-famous guest was wearing sneakers. They looked like Vans, people thought. But I pointed out that they were in fact Bottega Veneta sneakers—so, expensive, suede, woven vans—which retail [...]
Last February, an iteration of the Olive Garden restaurant chain opened in Grand Forks, North Dakota. "The place is impressive," Marilyn Hagerty wrote in her curiously favorable review for the Grand Forks Herald. "The chicken Alfredo ($10.95) was warm and comforting on a cold day. The portion was generous." Hagerty's review consisted almost entirely of declarative statements of fact about the restaurant's décor, the size of its menu's portions, and practical background info intended for prospective diners. Reactions to Hagerty's subdued encomium ran the gamut of cosmopolitan condescension: from delight in her earnest sincerity to heartfelt pity.
Then in November, Pete Wells, restaurant critic for the New York [...]
"Of all the things I’ve been called in my time, the one that surprises me the most is 'California Writer.' When I hear that, I look over my shoulder, certain that the phrase must apply to the writer behind me or to my left. It’s the way I feel when I am addressed by my husband’s last name. It takes me a moment to realize his mother is not in the room. Categories trouble me."
Long ago, before foreigners got the Internet, a real pleasure of foreign travel was picking up the International Herald Tribune and reading the Dave Barry column and some "Classic Peanuts" on the half page of comics. There was news, too, but you already knew the headlines from the BBC World Service or SkyNews or CNN International playing in the hotel lobby. Still, it was nice to sit in a cafe and not work and read a good newspaper, especially one with such a romantic name: The International Herald Tribune.
There were a handful of really good columnists and reporters (especially on the Arts, Fashion, Food and Architecture beats!) who were [...]
I feel for Times op-ed contributor Ross Douthat—at times. He has to work extra-hard to communicate ideas about religion to atheists and Christians alike, and also to lock down his cases against hedonism and "pre-marital sex" and abortion, consulting as he does for a liberal paper in a liberal town. And as a religious person, he has to both obey and articulate his faith's professed principles of empathy, even while being a polemicist. This is a sticky situation! So it's reasonable that he sometimes succeeds at one but fails at the other.
This weekend, however, he's gone too far. He's mangled and misrepresented a major study to his own [...]
In the spirit of such provocative debates as "Is Up Down," "Is Black White?" and "Is The Absence Of Light Really The Presence Of Light?" the New York Times asks, "Is Atheism A Religion?"
"Books, I think, are dead. You cannot fight the zeitgeist and you cannot fight corporations. The genius of corporations is that they force you to make decisions about how you will live your life and then beguile you into thinking that it was all your choice. Compact discs are not superior to vinyl. E-readers are not superior to books. Lite beer is not the great leap forward…. I also believe that everything that happens to you as you grow older makes it easier to die, because the world you once lived in, and presumably loved, is gone." —Humorist Joe Queenan has some thoughts on books, and also describes Ayn [...]
I waited on Frank Bruni and three others on his second-to-last visit to Graydon Carter’s Monkey Bar back in 2009, and unwittingly provided him with the kicker to his one-star review (the restaurant had been aiming for two)…. This, to me, is one of the stranger outcomes of restaurant reviews: that waiters are sometimes treated like they work in the public interest, or something. But as people argue over whether the New York Times is being classist in its scathing review of Guy Fieri’s restaurant, I’d like to point out the quieter classism that is inherent to the restaurant review: that very dispensable service employees are outed for [...]
What a long way we've come in the last ten years! "Anyone with a Tumblr, Twitter or YouTube account is practicing journalism in its most authentic form," Times deputy editorial page editor Terry Tang told some college students the other day. From sneering at blogs to embracing the pamphleteer model of social media, well, we've all come a long way, baby. The joke's on someone though. (Probably "all of us.")
"An article on Feb. 17 about a decline in field trips for students because of the New York City school bus drivers’ strike referred incorrectly to the 280-pound albino Burmese python at the Brooklyn Children’s Museum. The python, a favorite of schoolchildren, is a 'she' (Fantasia), not a 'he.'" —The NYT is taking this accountability thing very seriously, when it comes to enormous albino zoo animals that are a favorite of children.
Photo by edenpictures.
"For the full year of 2012, digital advertising revenues increased 0.2 percent to $214.8 million from $214.5 million in 2011. Excluding the additional week [in 2012], estimated digital advertising revenues decreased 1.7 percent in the fourth quarter and 1.9 percent for the full year of 2012." —The New York Times Company released its 2012 results this morning, if you like that kind of thing. Lots of fun stuff, like the $4.5 million cost for a "retirement and consulting agreement" for departed CEO Janet Robinson. How do you like your buyouts now, staffers?
• From Shulamith Firestone’s obituary: "The family Americanized its surname to Firestone when Shulamith was a child; Ms. Firestone pronounced her first name shoo-LAH-mith but was familiarly known as Shuley or Shulie."
• From Paul Roche’s obituary: "The author of several well-received volumes of poetry, Mr. Roche (pronounced 'rawsh') taught over the years at colleges and universities throughout the United States, among them Smith College; the University of Notre Dame; Centenary College in New Jersey; and Emory & Henry College in Virginia, where, his family said in a statement, 'He used to wander stark naked through the woods carpeted with violets.'"
• From Giorgio Tozzi’s obituary: "At his [...]
Old news, it turns out, but Joyce Wadler has taken the New York Times buyout and will be unleashed upon the world, at last, leaping beyond the stuffy walls of, oh God, this metaphor is going to hell, let's just say she walked out into the cool refreshing light of a freelance morning. (No?) In any event she will continue to write the "Misinformed" column for the Times.
Have you been following the recent travails of New York Times art critic Ken Johnson? It is probably coming soon, for an unhappy non-resolution, to a public editor near you. The long and short of it is that there is a petition calling for his head, or at least an ear. In short, he's gone in against "identity-based" art shows—exhibitions of ladies and the black folks and what have you—as an “evil whose necessity would disappear in a more equitable world." (This is exceedingly contrary to the position held by his colleague Holland Cotter, who has often supported this sort of exhibition.) Here is a very good [...]