New York, New York

credit: Istvan Banyai
credit: Istvan Banyai

It’s been a Big Apple couple of weeks. Here’s the first part of the finale.

Happy Birthday, New Yorker

I’m a bit in arrears offering congratulations on the magazine’s ninetieth birthday. What I like and don’t like (mostly the former):

  • The nine covers on the anniversary issue, though I had to go on line to figure out Istvan Banyai’s depictions of Eustace Tilley. Turns out his were the most traditional – no color, no women, no angst. And encapsulating the magazine’s class with a bit of whimsy. All those covers are an improvement over the dreadful version Tina B. produced in 1994 of Eustace’s slacker grandson in baseball cap. That one brought the end of my parents’ fifty-year subscription. It was a bittersweet parting as The New Yorker had provided my mother with some munificent checks over the years.
  • Tina B. added photographs. For the most part they suit the topic and the narrative.
  • Limiting errors. David Remnick informed Terry Gross that one editor found “four mistakes in a three-word sentence.” Accuracy lives: My friend Raven spoke of how the fact-checker of Rivka Galchen’s article on Misty Copeland (“An Unlikely Ballerina: The rise of Misty Copeland“) kept her on the phone, kept asking, kept asking. This for a few paragraphs in a seven-thousand-word article. On this eve of National Grammar Day, it is so reassuring  that some things don’t change.
  • Editor Remnick said of the story on Scientology: “… putting pressure on power, nonsense and chicanery of all kinds.” His variation of “oppressing/comforting” is far more eloquent than the original.
  • The “fist bump” cover, depicting the Obamas as ’60s style black radicals actually occasioned my first blog entry, since wiped out. My headline was “Where’s Alfred E. When We Need Him?” I’ll post it in a couple of days and link back here. It put The New Yorker on a par with Mad Magazine. I went looking for marginalia, “Spy vs. Spy,” and “Inside Celebrity Wallets.” My reaction occasioned one of the rare arguments with my mentor, who said those who didn’t understand the satire shouldn’t be reading The New Yorker. Ouch.


Tomorrow: I’ll celebrate National Grammar Day. Thursday: the second part of “New York, New York,” featuring the not as successful revamped New York Times Magazine or as it wants to be known online nytmag.

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