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July 01, 2006

Looking Through The New Yorker

Michael Blowhard writes:

Dear Blowhards --

After about six months of never once looking at it, I just spent a couple of hours grazing my way through a half a dozen recent issues of The New Yorker. How remote, underlit, unpressing, and unnecesary the magazine felt.

Whether you loved or hated The New Yorker of previous decades, it was a distinctive (and maybe great) American-culture achievement. Under Harold Ross and his successor William Shawn, The New Yorker was sui generis, as well as genuinely eccentric and unpredictable. A bizarre combo of the sophisticated and the completely out-of-it, it was unlike any other magazine, and its arrival in the mailbox every week was a genuine cultural event.

The magazine these days seems to me completely skippable. Why? It seems to me that two key things have changed since the old days. One has to do with the magazine itself. The old guard -- the people who really created The New Yorker -- is now almost completely gone. The magazine today, edited by David Remnick, is now populated by pro journalists, Boomers and Xers, many of them ambitious Ivy League brats of the "we must occupy the offices of the people we grew up admiring" sort. Smart and talented though many of them are, they're anything but originals. They don't even offer much of an alternative to the cast and voices at Slate and The New Republic.

The other Thing That Has Changed has to do with media life outside the magazine -- and that, of course, is the advent of the web. Back in the days before online publishing, magazines, books, and writers often served as intellectual friends. Although you could of course hang out with, write letters to, and yak on the phone with your actual friends, what could you do about your cultural and intellectual interests? And how could you expand your horizons? For such functions, you often turned to writers. You looked forward to visits with them. You carried on long conversations with them in your mind.

With the web, you no longer have no choice but to commune with writers in your head. Online, you can find kindred spirits and really commune with them, and in near-real time. People online are speaking about things they've noticed, and things that matter to them. They're bringing expertise and life-experience to bear. They're finding subjects months before the mainstream media do, and they're yakking about them in more open, freewheeling, and honest ways than pro journalists often can. Bloggers get too much credit for this, it seems to me; as far as I can tell, our most important function is as conversation-starters. In any case, the ongoing conversations are the point -- and links, commenters, and interview subjects all play important roles in keeping these conversations alive and rolling. In the to-and-fro of comparing notes and making connections, who has time to care about mere "articles," let alone bigshot magazine writers?

Even so far as journalism goes, online journalism (and online yak) has often located and explored topics long before the squares in the media empires have begun to take note. Two of the topics I've made a point of pushing since beginning to blog almost four years ago, for example, have been immigration and the pros and cons of digital imagery; both topics have only recently begun to rate much notice in the mainstream. Even where discussing the arts goes ... Regular reviewing strikes me as pretty silly these days, so I've made a point of trying to discuss books and movies in nontraditional ways. The GNXPers and ChicagoBoyz regularly take hard-edged and daring looks at science and econ topics that the mainstream won't yet touch, and the erotic bloggers are making the mainstream discussion of personal matters look like etiquette-book stuff.

You no longer have to go through channels. You can just talk about (and read about) what interests you. Hey, does anyone else think, as I do, that Steve Sailer is doing the most vital journalism in the country these days? Agree with him or not, he regularly examines stories that 99% of mainstream journalists won't touch; he has an unmatched nose for topics that need to be raised. Steve of course publishes here and there in real magazines. But his blog and his contributions to the still sniffed-at Vdare are what I enjoy most about his work. There's nothing silky-cosmopolitan, let alone New York and Ivy League, about Steve.Yet, as far as I'm concerned, he's making the staff of The New Yorker look like a bunch of fuddy-duddies. Safe prediction: They won't be catching up to him for many years yet -- and once they do, they'll fail to give him credit for blazing the trails they're exploiting.

Part of the weariness I felt looking at The New Yorker this afternoon had to do with its pace. Life online is soooooo much faster ... I feel a little conflicted saying this, because I often style myself as Mr. Take Your Time. Life online often strikes me as far too unreflective for anyone's good. But, lordy, The New Yorker ... Those circuitous and ceremonial (yet pallid) sentences ... Those multi-paragraph-long windups ... Those acres of beautifully-wrought observations and details ... The overmanicured, wee attempts at wit ... Good Christ, it's all so overworked and constricted. And why can't these people make their points faster? Rock out, wouldya?

The magazine these days is clearly more informal than it once was, and thank heavens for that. But for all the brains, chops, and talent on display, it also feels synthetic, full of itself, condescending, and predictable. It isn't taking on much that's fresh, let alone doing so in any kind of fresh way. Despite the looseness and the attempts at hipness, it seems earnest and bratty. And that noble, pained, Harvard-liberal, American-Studies groupthink ... Christ, did people really once have to tolerate writers striking these kinds of narcissistic postures?

The magazine seems about as urgent and pressing, and as germane to my interests, as the Democratic Party does. Where it was once a bazaar of a publication that you might turn to to see what a bunch of terrific, maddening writers had to say, these days it seems like a nicely-done package: The New Yorker (TM). If you have a taste (largely nostalgic, I'd guess) for that particular package -- cartoons, lapidary sentences, naive-noble leftism, essays, self-conscious quirkiness -- being delivered to your house on a weekly basis, then it seems to me to be still a pretty good product. But it's a denatured imitation of itself, one that has been revived once too often, and in lifeless ways.

Here's my interpretation of what's going on behind the scenes. The staff has by and large put decades into playing by the rules and making it to where they are. OK, let's be blunt: They're a bunch of overachieving brown-nosers (exceptions allowed for, as ever) who crave respect. The magazine's brand name still confers and commands respect ... But all these wild media developments are happening all over ... All the values that sustain the magazine's traditional prestige seem to be collapsing ...

Circumstances like these lead to anxiety and caution. Imagine -- heaven forfend! -- if a Harvard degree meant nothing! Yet life does seem to be evolving in that direction. What to do, what to do? ... The editors of the current New Yorker aren't risking anything vital in magazine terms. Why should they? If they were to do so, they'd be risking their livelihood and their standing. Instead, they're playing the role of curators, promoting and protecting a classic franchise. They're hanging on, hoping to milk the brand successfully and to make it through their careers with dignity intact before the sand is washed entirely out from beneath their feet.

I can't argue with the verdict that The New Yorker is still an excellent magazine. During my couple of hours with it today, I ripped out a half a dozen articles that I was interested in reading -- pretty-good gleanings. But I ripped out no fiction, and no journalism other than one piece by Oliver Sacks. (And he's his own philosopher-scientist thing.) Instead, the pieces that appealed to me were long, heavily-researched articles about interesting, non-newsy topics: Huey Long, Gregg Toland ... And Peter Schjeldahl's art criticism is always an intense pleasure. (What an eye! What a sensibility! What a writer!) What my reaction means is that -- in my mind, anyway -- The New Yorker now stands alongside such publications as American Heritage and Preservation. In other words, it has become a not-bad -- if dowdy and square -- monthly. So why do they keep putting it out every week?

How does The New Yorker strike you these days?



posted by Michael at July 1, 2006


Like it or not, New Yorker is the last remaining commercial venture to public short fiction on a regular basis. Also the New Yorker has enough readership and advertising to buy some big name authors and journalists.

I've avoided subscribing for the reasons you mentioned, but in the last year I succumbed. Seymour Hersch's great exposes, new translations of Ismail Kadare--egad, you can't get better than this!

One thing you can get from the New Yorker that you can't get from Time or Newsweek is untainted entertainment criticism. Time has topnotch critics, but I grow weary of trying to figure out which movies or music or books are covered because they are Time Warner properties and which are covered because they are genuinely good.

Posted by: Robert Nagle on July 1, 2006 5:08 AM

As a child of the 60's growing up in South Carolina, I couldn't wait to for our annual visit from my glamorous Aunt and Uncle from Manhattan - he, the Vice-President of Marketing for Hanes and she, childless, a "society wife". For my 10th birthday, they gave little 'ol backwater me a present of "Cartoons of the New Yorker, The First 40 Years". While I didn't "get" all of the cartoons, that book formed my taste for an intellectual life and made me want to move to either New York or California (the left coast won out - I'm still here today).

As a young married, I subscribed to the New Yorker in the 80's. Often I would read some example of its great writing out loud to my wife. With the growing demands of a young family, I didn't have time to read ALL of my issues, and I cancelled my subscription. I would still buy copies occasionally, particularly in airport bookstands when traveling. Still, it became less and less of a "must catch-up read".

4 years ago, with adult children in college and a chance to slow down in some areas, I started up another New Yorker subscription. I delighted at finally being able to read every issue.
While it began as a joy, over the next year it became apparent that I could not stomach their leftist political views. Where did the slightly more balanced New Yorker go? Even the fiction was now political, at least 75% of the time. And Hendrick Hertzberg, a writer of the first order, seems to be coming undone in his heated hatred of George Bush.
I cancelled again after one year, this time writing to tell them my thoughts. While my letter was certainly measured in its points, and not angry, I never received a reply or acknowledgement from the New Yorker.

The hyper political New Yorker began during the Tina Brown era - oh, well we all now know about the true Tina. Perhaps it was me that changed as well. I still enjoy the cartoons. And, Anthony Lane and David Denby, the New Yorker Cinema critics, still write like the old days - uber-observant and just plain fun - and they are available at The New Yorker Online.

In the meantime, I guess I'm hoping for a return to the past quality - does that sound like an old person speaking? Something that was so influential in who I am today is breaking my heart. But I'm not holding my breath.

Posted by: Brent on July 1, 2006 5:51 AM

"...I ripped out a half a dozen articles that I was interested in reading -- pretty-good gleanings."

Not bad gleanings at all for a magazine which you suggest is "completely skippable!" Do I detect a degree of confliction?

Btw, as to Brent's comment about Hendrik Hertzberg. While I don't see "hatred" in Hertzberg's writing. I wouldn't doubt that there is a fair deal of distaste for Bush. And it is well-deserved. George Bush has been a very poor President who is not even true to his ostensible conservatism.

Nor does the claim that the NYr is anti-Bush in general hold up. It is my strong recollection that the NYr was at least sympathetic to the Iraq war.

Posted by: David Sucher on July 1, 2006 10:12 AM

Robert -- Gotta love any publication that throws some money at quality people, let alone at fiction!

Brent -- That's a great evocation of what The NYer once meant to lots of people, tks. I think one thing you may have been picking up from it recently was less a leftover from Tina Brown and more a function of David Remnick. Tina was an opportunist. Remnick is a worthy (and very good, if earnest-lefty) journalist who has made the magazine more politics-driven and current-events driven. At times it's so news-driven that it strikes me as a more long-winded Time or Newsweek, (or a big fat New Republic) with lots of Ivy leftism stirred in...

David -- While the magazine has got some good and interesting stuff in it, it just (as Brent noted) no longer seems like a necessary read, let alone like anything I look forward to every week. Do you still have the old enthusiasm for it? If so, that's good to hear. I'm happy to dump on Bush too, but I've run into a lot of people who find the amount of space it devotes to current events and politics (and political opinionating) dismaying, something the magazine (while leftie) was seldom accused of prior to Remnick. It used to be an alternative (in terms of approach and tone) to many other mags. Now it's like the high-end version of every other serious mag ...

Posted by: Michael Blowhard on July 1, 2006 11:23 AM

I've been a New Yorker reader for nearly thirty years. However, last night I was leafing through a stack of them I'd been given and then setting them aside one by one, intending to throw the lot away.

I used to pass them along, but I've come to dislike its overt, shrill politics and I don't have much regard for Hersh anymore.

The whole magazine seems pallid and second team and politicized. And, personally I wish that the Toland piece had been longer.

Posted by: Larry on July 1, 2006 11:28 AM

Probably the New Yorker has changed -- I rarely read it now -- but I've changed much more than the mag has. I hate to admit it, but Vanity Fair has taken the NY niche in my life -- which is sort of "what are the fast, smart, rich, urban people doing these days?" And I love Bush hating. He's SO mock-able! Cheney is another matter -- a tragedy, I'm convinced, a man transformed by organic changes to his brain, as VF recently suggested. Didn't know the New Yorker was afflicting the administration, too -- so maybe I should take another look at the NY.

Like the Indians, I've become resigned to the massive neglect and misunderstanding of the world I live in out here -- a misunderstanding that causes "amenity migrants" to think they can move here to be "safe" -- since it doesn't register with them for a while that they are sharing I-15 with convoys of humvees with mounted machine guns (just what Ike built I-15 for) or that their trophy homes are just over the hill from siloes with 40-year-old nuclear warheads that are becoming unstable. They know nothing about the rural meth problem. They think that low income people who work in service jobs can be abused and pushed around. They overtax the infrastructure.

Indians have decided to write for and to each other -- I think Westerners in large part are doing the same, even though we're scaring ourselves silly every time we look at the future.

Prairie Mary

Posted by: Mary Scriver on July 1, 2006 11:48 AM

I hadn't had a subscription to the NYer for the past 7-8 years but for some odd reason I re-subscribed just about 3 months ago. Do I devour each issue as it arrives, as I had once done? No.

But I don't think that in my case that's because of its editorial stance but simply because -- I as I think you are saying -- there is just so much on the web and it is so interactive.

Now if the NYr was more on-line and accepted comments for its articles (rather than a de haut en bas and skimply "The Mail" page) I might be tempted to comment more, especially on Goldberger and other writers about the built environment, in which area I think the NYer tries very hard.

Posted by: David Sucher on July 1, 2006 12:03 PM

Hey! *I* write circuitous and ceremonial sentences!

Seriously (or not), the real spirit of the old New Yorker is now staffing The Simpsons. Think about it: funny, sharp as a tack, beautifully produced, political and social commentary served up on the sly for them what gets it and never, ever takes itself seriously.

I still read parts of the New Yorker because they're interesting, and subscribe mainly for nostalgic reasons (as a youngster growing up in cowtown Chicago, Manhattan seemed impossibly glamorous), but my heart belongs to the denizens of Springfield.

Posted by: communicatrix on July 1, 2006 12:06 PM

Except for the cartoons, I've never really liked the "New Yorker" (too boring, too leftist, too pretentious -- at one time they didn't even condescend to having a table of contents!)

Early in his career, Tom Wolfe, who is probably my favorite writer, wrote a two-part attack on the New Yorker that became somewhat famous. I just recently got a chance to finally read them, along with Wolfe's commentary about how they came about, etc., in a recent Wolfe anthology, "Hooking Up." It was very funny -- and illuminating!

Just now, looking up Wolfe and New Yorker on the web, I came across an essay on Wolfe by Richard A. Kallan, who is apparently connected with the University of Pennsylvania. Here's an excerpt that deals with Wolfe and the "New Yorker":

Wolfe's poised, confident tone is enhanced further by his use of hyperbole and its implication that the analysis is hilariously patent. A good illustration is Wolfe's two-part series, "Tiny Mummies! The True Story of the Ruler of 43rd Street's Land of the Walking Dead!" and "Lost in the Whicky Thicket: The New Yorker--11." Although written "as a lark, as a break in what to me were the serious articles I was doing," the series attests to Wolfe's skillful management of hyperbole. Authored in 1965, it 'commemorated" the New Yorker's fortieth anniversary by contending that the magazine had become dull, predictable, and second-rate. In describing New Yorker editor William Shawn, Wolfe writes:

Shawn is a very quiet man. He has a soft, somewhat high voice. He seems to whisper all the time. The whole. . . zone around his office, a kind of horsehair-stuffing atmosphere of old carpeting, framed New Yorker covers, quiet cubicles and happy-shabby, baked-apple gentility, is a Whisper Zone. One gets within 40 feet of it and everybody... is whispering, all the secretaries and everybody. The Shawn-whisper, the whisper zone radiates out from Shawn himself. Shawn in the hallway slips along as soundlessly as humanly possible and--chooooo--he meets somebody right there in the hall. The nodding! The whispering! Shawn is 57 years old but still has a boyish face, a small, a plump man, round in the cheeks. He always seems to have on about 20 layers of clothes, about three button-up sweaters, four vests, a couple of shirts, two ties, it looks that way, a dark shapeless suit over the whole ensemble, and white cotton socks. (1965b, 9; Wolfe's ellipses)

Posted by: Benjamin Hemric on July 1, 2006 1:53 PM

The cartoons in the New Yorker today are pretty competent, but they're also pretty dull (with some exceptions). It's too bad, because at one point the magazine featured some of the All-Time Greatest American Cartoonists (Addams, Arno, Thurber, for example). Today's Arnos and Addamses (Ivan Brunetti, for instance) they won't touch.

Posted by: Jon Hastings on July 1, 2006 5:48 PM

I was a long time subscriber to the New Yorker up until their 9/11 (actually 9/24/01) issue came out. I found the issue so inadequate and offensive - Adam Gopnik writing about how the smell of 9/11 was like "smoked mozzerella" and how the flames and smoke gave a nice golden glow to the trees in Central Park, John Updike writing about the collapse of the twin towers with a detachment that seemed obscene, Franzen, Sontag, etc. - that I immediately cancelled my subscription.

Still I love The New Yorker of yesteryear and miss it. However, one of the best gifts I have received recently is "The Complete New Yorker" on CD so I can still revisit favorites like Joseph Mitchell, Herbert Warren Wind, and E.B. White whenever the spirit moves me.

Posted by: Pat Hobby on July 1, 2006 6:43 PM

Magazines like The New Yorker get no respect from me because fear dictates their content, or lack thereof. Steve and the good folks at vdare do what I wish mags did.


Posted by: bucktowndusty on July 1, 2006 7:00 PM

My Taft Republican parents loved The New Yorker, and when I was growing up in the 40s and early 50s I devoured each issue from cover to cover. It evoked careers and dreams and tastes in me, views that are with me to this day, and it is a marvel that I did not end up in New York.

Posted by: Richard S. Wheeler on July 1, 2006 9:58 PM

For me, the point of no return was six or eight months ago when it ran an article about the problems feral hogs are causing in increasingly large swaths of the country. So far, so good--until the writer tried to correlate the presence of hogs as a red state/blue state issue. It's all Bush's fault, no doubt. Laughable--and contemptible.

Posted by: beloml on July 1, 2006 9:58 PM

My point of no return occurred six or eight months ago when it ran a story about the havoc feral hogs are wreaking on increasingly larger swaths of the country. So far, so good--until the writer tried to make it a red state/blue state issue, no doubt all Bush's fault. Laughable--and contemptible. And almost as smug as NPR.

Posted by: beloml on July 1, 2006 10:29 PM

Am pasting in here comments from my friend Phil in D.C.

Interesting observations. And maybe he's right. But I have some reservations. Even though I've always been a browser and only occasional reader of the New Yorker, I don't recall this vaunted unpredictablity in the past that Michael talks about. To me the mag always seemed a tad effete - Eustache Tilly and all that. But unpredictable in the larger sense? No, I don't think so. For example, the fiction always seemed to have "New Yorker" stamped all over it, as did "the talk of the town." (A certain bemused attitude toward nearly everything.) Only the long, non-fiction articles seemed to wander into odd nooks and crannies, and even Michael admits that the mag still does that. For example I recently read an excellent piece on a town in India and its future as a high-tech center that appeared in a 2004 New Yorker I picked out of the trash the other day, when some guy was moving out of his apartment. Furthermore, I think the New Yorker has always been the land of upper-west-side political correctness. The content of that correctness may have changed somewhat over the years, but the fact that the magazine's outlook is firmly routed in the West Side YMCA's lecture hall hasn't changed a bit.

As for the critic Michael praises, I plead ignorance because I don't much care for art critics.

So, in the end, I think the New Yorker is still pretty much what it's always been. On the other hand, I believe people who spend a lot of time n cyberspace have had their taste buds dramatically altered. It's full of nasty gossip, and I suspect the snappy nastiness of the blogs is now what Michael craves. However, since I don't read blogs, I may be way off base here about what Michael reads on the internet. But as the song from the TV show, "Monk" goes: "I could be wrong. But I don't think so."

Posted by: bob on July 1, 2006 10:35 PM

Sorry for the double post above. When it didn't show up, I thought I hit the wrong button and resubmitted.

Posted by: beloml on July 2, 2006 10:02 AM

Thanks, MB.

I read the New Yorker occasionally, mainly the non-fiction essays that are not about US politics. There is plenty of good stuff, but you have to dig it from a morass of NYC-centric leftism and Ivy preciousness. To be fair, it's difficult for any print publication to compete against the online cornucopia. Good for them if they can get people to keep buying subscriptions, though I have no idea if they can survive as a business in the long run.

Posted by: Jonathan on July 2, 2006 3:56 PM

Your comment prompted me to re-read the article.
Ian Frazier doesn't even remotely blame Bush or anyone else for the feral hog infestation.

Posted by: David Sucher on July 2, 2006 6:16 PM

Two points:

The last exciting thing I read in the New Yorker was the dance critic (Croce?) nailing the Alvin Ailey Aids presntation. That was a bold and clear move.

Because of my disappointment w/the New Yorker and the abject condition of Harper's I picked the Atlantic up for a couple of years. Enjoyed the editorship of the fellow who died in Iraq and the writing of Bowden, Langeiwiche (sp) and others.

Again, because the New Yorker fails me I have picked up resources online such as The New Criterion.

Finally, Why Slate?

Posted by: Larry on July 2, 2006 8:06 PM

Gee, Michael, the first issue of our new subscription came yesterday. Couldn't you have written this earlier?

Good point -- are the writers at the New Yorker any different today than the writers at other magazines? They used to be.

BTW, the best article on the Biloxi charrette was written by a New Yorker writer (who also came to the CNU's annual meeting in Providence), but it was published in the Oxford American .

Posted by: john massengale on July 2, 2006 10:48 PM

I only read The New Yorker in a pretentious doctors' office (its the only doctors' office which also has the NYT Book Review on the table,too). The print is way too cutesy for me---its artificial Art Deco thing seems exactly as you say, people who are playing curator and trying to pretend Dems are still in power, New York is still the center of the universe, Jackie Kennedy is still a style-setter. I can't imagine many young people even beginning to read it. I did read a review of "The Da Vinci Code" recently which was biting, sarcastic, fabulously written---and seemed about as "in tune" with America as the Rat Pack and martinis. It seems to be purely an artifact now.

Posted by: annette on July 3, 2006 8:02 AM

The New Yorker always had self-indulgently long articles and combined ads for luxury goods with genteel Manhattan leftishness.

I never read the short stories because I don't like short stories, but give them credit for printing them for them as does like them. And where else in a general interest magazine can you read about feral hogs or Huey Long?

You seem to have a thing about "Ivy League brats." Probably a prejudice, but one I share.

Posted by: Grumpy Old Man on July 3, 2006 8:47 AM

David Sucher,

Yes, I was being somewhat facetious. He did make the point that the map of feral hog infestations looks similar to a red state/blue state political map. I guess I simply fail to see causation or correlation between a state where people like to race cars and go to church (I think he specifically went to Florida) and a phenomenon that occurs in the natural world. This is the kind of cynicism and condescension that kept me from renewing subscription after 22 years.

Posted by: beloml on July 3, 2006 10:25 AM

I haven't read a New Yorker in years. Then I found a New Yorker article online recently - the Woody Allen commentary on the diets of the worldly philosophers. It was screamingly funny if you were into those guys, which I am. But it could have been written in exactly the same form in 1965 and would have had exactly the same effect. Talk about being stuck in the past!

Posted by: Robert Speirs on July 3, 2006 10:44 AM

That Brit broad (and I can't even think of her name) ruined it. Is she still editor? In any case, she left her smirky-snarky stamp on the NY'er, and it hasn't been removed.

The only good thing left are the covers by Sempe (accute accent on the last e).

Posted by: ricpic on July 3, 2006 2:35 PM

You might want to go back and re-read the article.

Posted by: David Sucher on July 3, 2006 4:24 PM

Robert Spiers: When I read this post of Michael's I went to the New Yorker web site and that very same article caught my eye. (It was the only one that did; do people read this stuff?) "Not only is our time on Earth limited but most kitchens close at ten." Apparently the Woodman does a regular thing for that mag.

His style hasn't changed since Without Feathers, and his takedown of the categorical imperative from Love & Death - "If everyone went to the same restaurant on the same night and ordered blintzes there'd be chaos, but they don't" - would have been right at home in this new one. But hey, if it's funny, keep on doing it.

Posted by: Brian on July 3, 2006 7:31 PM

Excuse me . . . was the commenter above listed as Richard S. Wheeler actually THE Richard S. Wheeler, author?

Posted by: Brent on July 3, 2006 8:15 PM

I see I'm -- surprisingly, to me -- far in the minority for loving to read the strong anti-administration "Comment" almost every week. And most of their criticism, including fairly long book reviews, is excellent.
I found several good things in the Memorial Day "Life in Wartime" issue.
Speaking of nostalgia, the Times World Cup blog reprinted an unbelievably long account by Alastair Reid of the World Cup of 1966, because England & Portugal had played a match that year.
The article meandered on with all the time in the world to introduce the World Cup phenomenon to ignorant Americans -- what a time trip.

Posted by: Susan on July 3, 2006 8:30 PM

New Yorker poetry comes close to defining a style that I loathe: vocabulary showoffs, silly cultural reference-dropping, free verse with little sense of sonics (i.e., no claim to the Whitman legacy).

Posted by: J. Goard on July 5, 2006 6:23 PM

Brent -- That's the real Richard S. Wheeler, author, for sure. We're mighty tickled he stops by from time to time.

Posted by: Michael Blowhard on July 5, 2006 6:50 PM

I tend to want to read about and think about those things which are most important. People who are politically correct have walled off so many very important topics that I rarely find such people worth my time to read. Granted, writers for a publication like The New Yorker may be very smart, have excellent writing skills, and good research (at least within the bounds of allowable thought) on the topics they choose. But the bounds of acceptable thought have become limiting that real causes of real problems and real solutions can not be discussed.

I simply can not afford to waste time reading people who think within the bounds of acceptable left-liberal thought.

Posted by: Randall Parker on July 8, 2006 12:34 PM

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