Lots to say! I’ll try to be short-winded.
Also, here are photos of the lovely wabi-sabi signage at a Buddhist temple and cemetery we visited in Honolulu a few weeks ago. I’ll put photos of the place itself, and the beautiful grounds, in another post.
November 16, 2009 issue:
I marked the reliably-brilliant Elizabeth Kolbert’s reliably brilliant critique of SuperFreakonomics (available in its entirety online!), but I don’t have anything special to add. Just: YES. It’s an excellent response to Freakonomics freaks you might know. (They might have some salient point when it comes to economics, I don’t know enough to know, but their analysis of—and solution to—the climate crisis is just weird.)
And when we turn the page, what have we here? Feminism being discussed in an intelligent fashion by an actual woman? By the lovely Ariel Levy? (OK, yeah, I got mad at her once, but I’m over it.) My heart flutters. First of all, I’d like you to know that I take full credit for the increasing Ariel Levization of The NYer. Did you notice that her pieces started appearing with more regularity when I was on my warpath about gender representation in the mag? Seriously!
Anyway, have any of you read this When Everything Changed: The Amazing Journey of American Women from 1960 to the Present book that’s getting so much press that Levy reviews? It looks pretty interesting.
And then! Turn to the next page, and here’s a great review of that Bauhaus exhibit currently at MoMA, which I saw (during the members-only preview nonetheless) because I’m so hip and urban and font-liking and shit, and which was pretty interesting, and also fascinating from a feminist perspective, as the Bauhausians, a term I maybe just made up, were pretty welcoming to the ladies among them who also maybe wanted to make spare bare chairs and such. (That was an amazing sentence, no?) Actually, in a sort of essentialist twist that I personally delight in, it seems that what the ladies wanted to make were weavings, and very awesome weavings at that.
November 23, 2009 issue: The Food Issue!
Cakes baked on spits! Deconstructed animals A L’Orange! The Michelin ratings system blown wide open! How artificial flavors are made! An appearance by my love, David Karp! That oldest of chef’s secrets, unceremoniously spilled by silly Adam Gopnik—that all of us put vastly more fat in our mashed potatoes than any lay person could even comprehend! And even, at long last, a typo!
Yes. I do believe I found that personal holy grail, a typo in The New Yorker. So silly, but I have to point it out: page. 97: “It is found in the Szechuan chili, and that is a unique sensation.” (It’s a quote, that’s why it’s such a weird sentence.) The Szechuan CHILI? My dear David Remnick! Chili is a dish eaten in the southwest of these here United States. Chile is the singular form of those hot little peppers used in Szechuan foods.
Well, OK. I guess it’s widely accepted that either one is ok, but still. I was taught that chili only refers to dishes made with chilies, and I’m sticking to it.
Niggling typos not withstanding, the whole issue is a pleasure, particularly if you are on a lazy vacation with lots of reading time. Yum indeed.
November 30, 2009 issue
Ariel Levy again makes an appearance, this time with something I never thought I’d see in a mainstream magazine: a wildly complicated analysis of gender. Specifically in relation to sports, specifically in relation to the fascinatingly complex and gender bendery case of Caster Semenya, the South African runner. I devoured the article, “hmm”ing my way through it, scratching my head, trusting Levy’s analysis and insights. Particularly spot-on is her analysis of how
South Africans have compared the worldwide fascination with Semenya’s gender to the dubious fame of another South African woman whose body captivated Europeans: Saartjie Baartman, the Hottentot Venus. Baartman, an orphan born on the rural Eastern Cape, was the servant of Dutch farmers near Cape Town. In 1810, they sent her to Europe to be exhibited in front of painters, naturalists, and oglers, who were fascinated by her unusually large buttocks and had heard rumors of her long labia. She supposedly became a prostitute and an alcoholic, and she died in France in her mid-twenties. Until 1974, her skeleton and preserved genitals were displayed at the Musée de l’Homme, in Paris. Many South Africans feel that white foreigners are yet again scrutinizing a black female body as though it did not contain a human being.
Really interesting stuff.
December 7, 2009 and December 14, 2009 issues:
Hmm. Now that I take a look, I see that I marked absolutely nothing.
Maybe my vacation is finally taking hold after all. Yay!