It’s Christmas Eve already, and most of us ordinary salt-of-the-earth working people have been much too busy to find gifts for everyone on our list. Fortunately, there’s hope: The New York Times has spent the whole year alerting us to the best deals, steals and must-have items, so with the help of this curated guide, you’re sure to find something for everyone. Just have your personal assistant print out this list, circle the items you think your loved ones will enjoy, and have your personal assistant run them over to those people’s houses by Christmas morning. Enjoy spreading holiday cheer! (Read the 2011 gift guide here). Continue reading “Pleasin’ for the Season: The New York Times Last-Minute Holiday Gift Guide”
Everyone always makes such a big deal about search engine optimization, but I don’t see anything impressive about it. Search engine optimization is easy. For instance, let’s say you’re a blogger, and you have a target audience who is interested in a variety of topics, such as “David Brooks idiot,” “David Brooks stupid,” “David Brooks hack,” “David Brooks asshole,” “David Brooks dickhead,” “David Brooks imbecile,” “David Brooks sucks,” “David Brooks wack,” “worst David Brooks,” “David Brooks waste of organic matter,” and “fire David Brooks.” Just create blog posts about those topics, using those words, and internet success will be yours! Continue reading “The Two Stupid Faces of David Brooks: David Brooks Is an Idiot, Part III”
I typically ignore the New York Times‘ “On the Runway” fashion reporting. It’s not that I’m not interested in fashion, both personally and as a cultural phenomenon, but rather that articles about fashion shows and other events in the world of haute couture are so abstruse, they might as well be business section news about “On I.P.O, CDW to Fall Short of Boom-Era Valuation” or “S.E.C. to Vote on Proposal to Overhaul Money Funds.” They might as well be about the N.B.A. draft. Fashion reporters say things like “there was a bilge of chore jackets” and “Wherever Mr. Jones goes, he never loses sight of Vuitton’s sensibility….What Mr. Jones managed to reserve from the distilled American elements was a casual attitude.” While conventional trend pieces strain too hard for relevance, high-fashion trend pieces take place in a rarefied world of tastemakers we’ve never heard of and cultural watersheds that have utterly failed to have any effect on us. But it’s time to get over this aversion. It’s time to learn what an honest-to-God fashion trend looks like, courtesy of Suzy Menkes’s “In London, All Hail the Suit.”
In the past, this blog has perused the New York Times for insights on how to be cool. Today, we turn to a more weighty topic. While coolness is of abiding interest to lifestyle journalists, many of the luminaries profiled in the Times‘ pages transcend mere hipness; they are consummate examples of human perfection, without flaws either inside or out. How can we emulate them? Let’s find out.
This trend piece comes to us from Teddy Wayne, bestselling novelist and author of one million mildly to somewhat amusing one-sentence articles for McSweeney’s. (For those not familiar with McSweeney’s, it is an online humor site for people who hate dick jokes and love those Yelp reviews that are in the form of an open letter to an abstract entity, but wish they were a little edgier.) But he’s not just a disarmingly quirky observer of modern mores; he’s also a concerned and judgmental observer of modern mores. For instance, one day Wayne was on Amtrak, and overheard four debutantes conversing. He found their discussion to be humorous, so he began typing what they said and posting it on Facebook for his friends to laugh at. I know what you’re thinking: “That’s a really cool story. It’s a shame that only Teddy Wayne’s Facebook friends got to see those posts, when they should have been made available for everyone to read. Teddy Wayne is too modest, making fun of teenage girls on Facebook and then trying to get out of taking credit for it.”
“The only way of expressing emotion in the form of art is by finding an ‘objective correlative’; in other words, a set of objects, a situation, a chain of events which shall be the formula of that particular emotion; such that when the external facts, which must terminate in sensory experience, are given, the emotion is immediately evoked.” So claimed T. S. Eliot in his iconic essay “Hamlet and His Problems.” And what’s true of Hamlet is doubly true for the New York Times‘ Modern Love column. This recurring essay feature aspires to represent emotion in the form of art, but with a 2000-word length limit, plus there’s no sex scenes or cussing allowed. To put things into perspective, this it what it sounds like when an essayist describes their love story in literal language: “We went to the beach and swam, held hands at the Fourth of July fireworks, went on roller coasters at Six Flags, ate Thanksgiving dinner with each other’s families, exchanged gifts on Christmas. We cried when I had to leave for long periods of time.” Fascinating. No, this will not do: If you wish to interest the world in your banal tale of romantic disappointment, you must take Eliot’s advice. You need a metaphor. You need a symbol. You need an objective correlative for those ineffable emotions. Like this: Continue reading “Crazy Love III”
We’ve all heard about “first world problems,” “white whines,” dilemmas of affluence and so on. The First World is awash in blogs, Tumblrs, and free-floating disapproval for any of its members who might voice complaints about problems that don’t matter in the grand scheme of things. But are these gibes really fair? Many so-called “first-world problems” are legitimate pet peeves that might annoy anyone, from Brooklyn to Bangladesh, Napa to Nairobi. No one enjoys late trains, poor cell phone reception or defective Tic-Tacs. And whatever your position on the socioeconomic scale, it’s human nature to comment on it. The mockery of “luxury problems,” while well-meaning, seems a bit condescending toward the underprivileged, as well as unnecessarily dismissive of affluent problem-havers. They’re not trying to taunt the marginalized and dispossesed. It’s not like they’re bitching about having too much food in their kitchen, or something.
Unless they actually are. If so, let’s nail those honkies to a cross.
American culture abounds with knee-jerk displays of patriotism. Fourth of July fireworks, Presidents’ Day, elections, baseball games, football games, gun shows, the Country Music Awards, pep rallies, NRA conventions, even the state fair — all come with flag-waving, anthem-singing, and the implicit belief that America is the best because we have the most “freedom.” But does this assumption comport with facts, or is it a reductive, even jingoistic oversimplification? The naïve citizen would claim that freedom means the ability to choose the direction your life will take, or a lack of undue burdens like oppression and bigotry. These definitions create a false binary, putting freedom in the “good” category while consigning so-called “evils” like slavery, totalitarianism, unjust laws, bigotry, poverty and lack of opportunity to the “bad” category. That kind of black-and-white thinking might fly in kindergarten, but it simply won’t do for the sophisticated readers of the Paper of Record! They demand nuanced, rigorous thought.
New York Times editorialists are ready to give it to them. And for most, that can mean only one thing. Continue reading “Bobos in the Panopticon; or, Why Does the New York Times Hate Freedom?”
The great thinkers of humanity’s past have devised many ethical systems, all purporting to tell conscientious citizens how to do the right thing. From Islamic law and the Ten Commandments to the Golden Rule and the Yamas and Niyamas of yogic philosophy — from Utilitarianism to liberal humanism to the Categorical Imperative and even Objectivism — these codes seek to answer our deepest questions. Is our greatest responsibility to ourselves, or others? Individuals, or the community? What about animals, and the environment? Are corporations people? Is it permissible to bring your own candy into the movie theater? Is straying from the path of virtue the same as pigging out on pizza and fries?
Yes, the world’s tradition of moral reasoning is indeed diverse. Put it all in a blender with some whimsical self-deprecation, add water, and you’ve got the New York Times Ethicist column. Continue reading “Eggs, Bugs and Joseph Conrad: An Anti-Ethicist Manifesto”
Christmas is almost here! If you haven’t finished shopping for gifts, don’t panic. The New York Times is here to help. They’ve spent the whole year finding the best trends, the most must-have products, the hottest artisans and designers. I’ve searched their archives and selected the greatest gift ideas of 2011. Just check out this list, figure out what categorie(s) of recipient your loved one(s) is/are, and have their dream gift shipped overnight! What could be easier?