Ian Frazier's fascinating piece about the out-of-control homeless epidemic in New York City—spoiler: things got particularly bad when Bloomberg replaced Section 8 housing subsidies with a new program called Advantage in 2007, which was then defunded in 2011—has a terrific explanation of Bloomberg, our Mayor Smaug, in action: Deputy Mayor Linda Gibbs, the Bloomberg administration official most significantly involved in its policies for the homeless, is a trim, gray-haired woman in her mid-fifties whose father was the mayor of Menands, a village north of Albany…. Her blue eyes often have an expression that can only be described as a twinkle. I’ve seen this look in other Bloomberg staffers’ [...]
It was not a likely name for a magazine. A kid's magazine, maybe, but a bold attempt to supplant the New Yorker? Eyebrows were raised. And yet Wigwag was launched anyway, in the fall of 1989. Editor Alexander Kaplen wrote in his introductory note: "The word isn't made up, and the name's no accident. This magazine has a lot to do with home—who lives where, what they do there, what they do there." The definition, according to Kaplen, is, "to signal someone home." Kaplen launched the magazine as a response to the ousting of long-time editor William Shawn in 1987 (detailed extensively by Elon Green last week). If [...]
Last week, David Grann and I met in his office at The New Yorker, in midtown Manhattan. It is a glorious fire hazard because he doesn't throw anything away. Grann has been a staff writer at the magazine since 2003 and published two books, the enthralling The Lost City of Z, and The Devil and Sherlock Holmes, a collection of his reportage. Stacks of papers related to finished stories ("That's Z, that's Cuba, that's Willingham…") line the walls, while the floor is devoted to a book-in-progress, as yet untitled, on the Osage Indian murders and the birth of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
For fans, a new [...]
I think I'm gonna buy myself a pair of those toe-sock-feet things, the shoes with toes in 'em? You know, like a glove for your foot, but it has a shoe part? Is that a fad? I don't want 'em if it's a fad, I mean, I want 'em, but if it's a fad, then I would wait for it to be over before I buy so I can get the Nice Price, you know? Sometimes with important stuff like this you need to drain all the emotion out of it.
I have pretty good feet, I think. If there were Photo Opportunities for feet, I bet I could totally [...]
"For a while, we tried faithfully to reproduce the backward 'R' in Toys 'ᴙ' Us, but it went rogue and ran loose on the page every time we turned our back." ——And that's why the New Yorker can't have nice things.
The New Yorker’s fact-checking department is singular. Unlike the few similar departments of other magazines, it’s got a bit of glam. People actually aspire to work there. And why not? How many fact-checking departments can claim to have been chronicled in the magazine’s own pages by John McPhee or depicted—for better or worse—in Bright Lights, Big City? It’s been at the top of the fact heap for years, at least in part for its absurd levels of rigor. As an editor noted not long ago, “Every quote, every detail, every attribution, every everything is checked for accuracy”—including the cartoons.
This obsessiveness, I can tell you from personal experience, extends [...]
Have you had shad for dinner in the past week? If not, you should do so tonight or tomorrow night. It is one of the most delicious fish in the universe, and incredibly easy to cook, and due to the same mild winter than has local flowers and, apparently, Republican primary voters, so confused, the American shad spawning season, which usually heralds spring in March or April, has arrived early this year.
People are always saying things on the Internet all the time. But they are such teases. We like details. So we have to ask.
No disrespect to the Nobel committee but one time I had to call Alice Munro about a fact checking issue and she answered on the first try.
— Lila Byock (@LByock) October 10, 2013
Lila! So what happened here? From 2006 to 2010, I was a fact checker at The New Yorker. Famously, no section of the magazine is spared the scrutiny of the checker. Poetry, Shouts & Murmurs, cartoons: We do it all. Nobody likes to check the fiction, though. It can [...]
William Shawn began work at The New Yorker in 1933, was appointed managing editor in 1939 and, quite shortly after the death of founding editor Harold Ross, became the magazine's editor in 1951.
In 1985, 34 years later, Shawn was still the editor, but Peter Fleischmann, the son of founding partner Raoul Fleischmann, owned only 25% of shares in The New Yorker. Paine Webber owned the next largest share, and the Newhouse family's Advance Publications already owned around 17% of the publication. Advance wanted, and got, the rest, for a price something like 20 times current revenues, according to the Times.
The employees, however, were not happy [...]
David Denby wrote a mad-crazy review of Silver Linings Playbook in the New Yorker. Thankfully for his dignity, it was behind the paywall, and came after a lengthy review of that weird dead snoozer, Life of Pi (it's an effusive but cautious rave, but he does call Life of Pi "one of the great adventure films"). Here's a taste: "David O. Russell's 'Silver Linings Playbook' is pretty much a miscalculation from beginning to end," and he goes on to call it nothing more than an exercise for actors, that it "feels worked up." This is a point of view at least, if a wrong one, and artificiality is a [...]
Stop crucifying Jonah Lehrer! It's more important that good ideas get disseminated than that magazines keep exclusivity! @jonahlehrer
— Parag Khanna (@paragkhanna) June 21, 2012
No one who's going on about how everyone is "celebrating" Jonah Lehrer's trouble with repackaging works or "crucifying" him or expressing "schadenfreude" has ever cited anyone who's actually doing any of those things.
The May 7th issue of The New Yorker features a Mother's Day-themed cover by Chris Ware. The art editor who oversaw its creation is Françoise Mouly, who, since joining The New Yorker in 1993, has guided more than 950 of the magazine's covers, including some of the most iconic of recent years (including the September 11, 2001 black-on-black cover with Art Spiegelman, and Barry Blitt's "terrorist first bump" cover in 2008). In the new book Blown Covers, Mouly shares cover concepts that never made it on the magazine, with sketches from a roster of New Yorker artists with whom she works regularly.
In addition to her duties at [...]
Poor David Sedaris! The recent "truth in journalism" dust-ups—John D'Agata's bizarre book written with a former fact-checker, and the "This American Life" episode-long retraction of Mike Daisey's "The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs"—has given everyone a chance to call Sedaris a liar. But it's okay that he is! Sometimes. Wait, is it? Not really. Let's see what everyone thinks about David Sedaris.
David: I need a haircut, Maria. I look like a duckling right now.
Maria: And a stiff drink, if you listened to that radio interview with Caitlin Flanagan, like we were supposed to. Evidently the women of America had calmed down too much since her last book, To Hell With All That, caused such a ruckus over what was widely perceived as the author's throwback and essentialist anti-feminist ideology. So not content to get people in a stir with Atlantic Monthly and New Yorker appearances, she's written a new one, Girl Land. Even the cover of which is pretty provoking.
All these moms are fine [...]
The winning submission to The New Yorker’s cartoon caption contest #388, by Jerry Sobol, of New York, N.Y., appears to the lay reader, or the person in need of glasses, to be a simple joke about how careless middle-aged men can be about their spouses. A closer read reveals a dark, Cheeveresque narrative penned by Sobol, who likely harbors retrograde opinions about women’s place in the world that would horrify the average New Yorker reader.
A chinless man carrying a bag of golf clubs and wearing golf clothing, has burst into a surgery, perhaps while attempting to locate a stray shot (whether he is playing golf within the hospital or [...]
I didn't know what I would get paid to write this article. I didn't ask. It doesn't matter. It won't make a tangible dent in paying the rent on my apartment in Brooklyn, or, for that matter, rent on an apartment in any other city. By the time I finish the research, the interviews, the writing, and the editing, whatever small sum—$30, $125, $200—this site pays me will pale in comparison to the effort. It's not "worth it" in a traditional monetary sense. I'm doing it for exposure (maybe hire me?), because I'm interested in the topic, and because it's immediately relevant to my so-called career as a [...]
News that "The Secret Life of Walter Mitty" is being made into a big new movie starring Ben Stiller is somewhat worrying, and I say this as one whose favorite movie may well be Zoolander. Tad Friend's recent New Yorker profile of Stiller, "Funny is Money" (subscription-only) is full of disquieting (and fascinating) details about the project; apparently there's a comic shark attack involved. It's a mystery how Thurber's 1939 story of an ordinary man's daydreams, so small in scale, so evanescently brief (just 2,200 words), and so deceptively modest in its message, should have attracted the notice of so many producers of large and noisy entertainments. But it [...]
"If you didn’t already know that euphonious dichotomies are usually phony dichotomies, you need only check out the latest round in the supposed clash between 'prescriptivist' and 'descriptivist' theories of language. This pseudo-controversy, a staple of literary magazines for decades, was ginned up again this month by The New Yorker, which has something of a history with the bogus battle."
"My predecessor (and the former keeper of the comma shaker) told me that she used to pester the style editor, Hobie Weekes, who had been at the magazine since 1928, to get rid of the diaeresis. She found it fussy. She said that once, in the elevator, he told her he was on the verge of changing that style and would be sending out a memo soon. And then he died." —Will no one rid The New Yorker of the tiresome diaresis?
Jonathan Franzen is in my estimation America's best living novelist (OKAY?) and a substantial number of people get upset whenever he writes or says basically anything. It's interesting to ask why! In part it's because his ideas about novels and what people respond to in them are provocative and controversial, and sometimes, as in his recent essay about Edith Wharton, he projects his own responses onto "us" in a way that can be irritating, if we disagree with him. Our opinion about his writing is also affected by of how rich he is and his gender and what he looks like, and that's very hard to talk about. But [...]