living underground in the real world

New Yorker Whiteboy Watch: all of May 2008

The NYerWbW is a regular feature whereby my mother and I keep track of the male/female breakdown in The New Yorker magazine. We include stats on the front section of short pieces (“Talk of the Town,” sometimes referred to as TotT) the main features section, the reviews section, (“The Critics”), poems and the cover. We do not include the male/female breakdown of the cartoons, but my educated guess is that it is usually 95% dudes. The “spots” have never, to my knowledge, been by a woman, and we don’t include them either. Why embark on such a random project? Click on the “New Yorker Whiteboy Watch” category link on the right and read through some of the older posts to get a sense of why it matters that a “general interest” magazine is written overwhelmingly by men (usually white ones).

May 5:

Talk of the Town: 2 women, 3 men, but the coveted first Talk of the Town piece, “Comment,” was by Dorothy Wickenden, a very rare sighting of a woman penning the “Comment.”

Lizzie Widdicombe continues to report on society goings on about town – I imagine her variously as a middle aged white woman who wears a lot of pantsuits and pearl necklaces, or exactly like Charlotte in Sex and the City, wearing fussy dresses and prissy pearl drop earrings. Either way, you know she wears pearls (and is white). (To my extreme joy, I could only remember two of the SATC women’s names – Miranda and Carrie – and had to resort to Google to remember the other two. It’s always so wonderful to find that pop culture hasn’t completely invaded and eroded one’s brain.)

Main features, poems, cover: 3 women, 10 men.

May 12:
I was excited to read the article on Grant Achatz and his infamous tongue cancer – truly, is there a more fascinating and heartbreaking and strange story? Brilliant chef at the top of his game gets tongue cancer and is told most of his tongue has to be cut out and he will never taste the same way again. Chef fights to save his tongue and undergoes insane chemo and radiation. The cancer seems to go into remission, but regaining his taste buds is a long road, and in the meantime he has to rely on sous chefs to remember his palate and cook like he would. Wow.

Like most chefs, I’m fascinated by the molecular gastronomy movement/trend, of which he is one of the most prominent American proponents. My personal interest is in creating a first rate traditional vegan cuisine focussed on traditional dishes from around the world, but I find molecular gastronomy fascinating in the way that a pilot might find an astronaut interesting – not exactly the job for me, a little bit disorienting, but interesting to read about in bed. He’s one of those people I’m happy are out there, and I sincerely hope he heals and continues creating beautifully strange dishes.

Also – we use the same induction stove!

(Obligatory vegan disclaimer: apparently Grant Achatz isn’t against foie gras, although he has worked with legendary anti-foie gras chef Charlie Trotter, but it does seem like his menus are pretty veg-friendly, so what can ya do.)

Moving on:

If Mariëtte Strik is a woman – Google can’t apparently confirm this – then this week marks the first week in my long recollection of a woman doing the “spots”!!! Glass ceiling smashed! Women can do adorable parenthetical tiny doodles too!

Overall, I kind of loved this issue. We got a Malcolm Gladwell, that great article on how smart parrots are, the bizarre photo retoucher dude – good stuff.

Talk of the Town: I guess I have to revise my whine about how women don’t usually write the first TotT piece, “Comment,” because last week it was by Dorothy Wickenden and this week it’s by the brilliant Elizabeth Kolbert. 3 women and 2 men contributed this week, woo!

Features/reviews/poetry/cover: 12 dudes/3 dudettes.

May 19:

Talk of the Town: 2 women, 3 men, including, of course The Widdicombe.

Features/reviews/poetry/cover: 3 women, 11 men.

May 26:

Talk of the Town: 1 woman, 4 men, no Lizzie (but Lauren, but she’s good)!

Features/reviews/poetry/cover: 4 ladies, 13 mens.

Was Woody Allen’s fiction ever funny to people like me, people who loved Manhattan and Annie Hall but can’t really love Woody Allen himself? I wonder. I’ve never been able to get into it.

3 Responses to “New Yorker Whiteboy Watch: all of May 2008”

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