(The NYerWbW is a regular feature whereby my mother and I keep track of the male/female breakdown in The New Yorker magazine. It’s stunning and shocking and not at all surprising, unless you are a patriarchy denier and/or believe that women are naturally inferior writers. Yo! If you would like to keep track of the white/nonwhiteness of the magazine’s contributors on a regular basis, please let me know – photos of common contributors can be found here)
The first person to guess which popular NYC music venue is depicted in these pictures, which I took during a long long day spent waiting for the band my sweet works with to soundcheck so we could go to dinner (activities like this comprise a large portion of my life, is it any wonder I am driven to taking pictures of empty bars in various stages of darkness?), will win a set of Vegan Propaganda Pins! Put your guesses in the comments section! Wooo!
Well, the actual stats will be in a post coming soon. I have to get some hatin’ out first.
The first New Yorker Food Issue, in 2003, was a GEM. A gem, mofos, that’s exactly what it was. That John Seabrook piece on David Karp LITERALLY changed my life. I am LITERALLY in love with David Karp, and have structured my life around the finding of mangosteens ever since (and they are indeed amazing). Even the article that became Heat was interesting, albeit ultimately stupid. The next August I eagerly waited for the Food Issue, but it turned out to be a biannual affair. The 2005 Food Issue was utterly unmemorable, and this year’s edition just pretty much just sux sux sux, with a few exceptions. Let’s break it down.
Calvin Trillin on Singapore street food: Calvin Trillin is never bad, but somehow, completely irrationally, he still manages to irk me. I should have loved this article, but his style just doesn’t do it for me. I like his little poems for The Nation though.
Adam Gopnik on eating local NYC food: whatever dude. I know all this shit and that bit about the chicken was just idiotic. In all fairness I bet this article was sort of fascinating for some people though. Rooftop gardens, who knew? (Most people, but whatevs!) Parts of it were interesting to me, to be sure, but I don’t see how it really belonged in The New Yorker…but then half the crap that makes it into the magazine baffles me. However, I don’t think, as is being suggested, that he was being condescending – that’s just the NYer style. Which is, now that I think about it, usually condescending towards most things I love. I used to look forward to Adam Gopnik pieces, though, and I don’t really know what happened, although I suspect it has something to do with how often his snotraggy little progeny makes it into his articles mouthing off about cutsey little NYCish or Frenchy topics, depending on which side of the pond they happen to be living.
Judith Thurman on fasting: zp summed it up perfectly: this article completely epitomizes everything bad in the universe today. I just wanted to sucker punch Judith Thurman and her catty little comments on how she didn’t “need” to fast because she was so ridiculously skinny already. Puke puke puke!
John McPhee on quote unquote “wild foods” Dude! Dude. Dude. My toes are involuntarily curling in embarrassment for you. I’m going to try to let you down as gently as possible here: not all that many of the foods you’re so proud of are actually, well…”wild.” Let’s take a look:
Bee spit. OK. Being vegan and not eating bee products, I actually consulted with a beekeeper about this one and it turns out my hunch was right all along: honey is actually, well, how can I put this? BEE PUKE. So I’m not all that impressed with your little bee spit coup. (Soon I will write about how I’m not really against local honey, however, and actually the pukeyness of it doesn’t bother me. What bothers me is the fact that commercial honey operations rape their queen bees and kill them at the end of every season and blah blah. It’s a small thing, but if I can prevent the rape of queen bees I am going to, people!)
Most of the greens you mention are, sad to say, weeds in my lawn this very minute. Not exactly exotic in any possible sense of the word. I’m not exaggerating: dock, chickweed, chicory, dandelion (probably the most prevalent weed in North America. Um, have you ever been out of NYC prior to writing this article? Actually, I have seen lots of dandelion growing out of the cracks in NYC sidewalks.), catnip – all of these are hanging out in my lawn right now. Well, the catnip I planted.
Also, not to brag or anything, but I and probably most other moderately food-loving people have eaten pretty much every one of the (vegan) items on your list, many of them many times. Just last week I foraged for edible greens, picked ground cherries, sautéed some foraged honey mushrooms (well, I was taking a class on mushrooming), and ate wild grapes (ok, these came from my backyard and someone originally planted them, but I have done nothing in the past 3 years to encourage them so I think that counts for something.). I also had a bite of a dandelion green I picked on my way to taking out the compost. My point is that your whole life list of wild foods could have come from any moderately rural person’s backyard. Which is really fucking cool in a way and I love learning about edible plants and all that. But to brag about how you scavenged for these plants while on some crazy adventure or whatever is just ridiculous. If the article had been about how many edible plants are right under our noses, I would have loved it.
Oh, and about the meat: no one who has eaten a hot dog, or a Lunchable, or a McDonalds hamburger, has any reason to be impressed with you as they have eaten far, far scarier and more risky and exotic foods than bull testicles.
Moving along to the good stuff, which was, in true NYer style, stuffed into the last third of the magazine:
Jane Kramer on Claudia Roden: yay! Glorious! The very best kind of bedtime reading for a cook. Has the earth broken open? A woman was allowed to write a feature article on a woman doing womanly things like cooking?
Patrick Radden Keefe, whoever that is, on fakey old wine: strangely fascinating!
And the fiction: tasty and perfect in every possible way.
Male/female stats on the issue coming soon!