A scrapbook of stuff I'm reading / looking at / listening to / thinking about. Ask me anything you can't Google.

Posts tagged "new yorker"

Aug 08, 2014
Anybody who’s been to a book signing can relate to this.

(Liana Finck for the New Yorker)

Anybody who’s been to a book signing can relate to this.

(Liana Finck for the New Yorker)

Aug 04, 2014

Life imitates Seinfeld

In this week’s New Yorker, Ben McGrath writes about swimming in the East River:

Four years ago, three guys had an idea: that it might be nice to swim in the East River. “It came about pretty simply,” one of them, Dong-Ping Wong, recalled recently, on one of those humid, ambition-melting summer mornings. “Just sitting and sweating near the river, and realizing, after years of living here, that it’d be sort of amazing if you could jump in, and kind of ridiculous that you couldn’t.”

Of course, seventeen years ago, another New Yorker had the same idea. His name was Cosmo Kramer.

From Seinfeld, S08E18, “The Nap”:

KRAMER: Well my swimming pool problems are solved. I just found myself miles and miles of open lanes.

JERRY: What is that smell?

KRAMER: That’s East River.

JERRY: You’re swimming in the East River? The most heavily trafficked overly contaminated waterway on the eastern seaboard?

KRAMER: Technically Norfolk has more gross tonnage.

I tweeted the clip to McGrath and he said he’d never seen it! So I think two things could be going on here: either those dudes were watching TBS at dinnertime, or Kramer was a real visionary.

Filed under: Life imitates art

Jul 31, 2014

James Brown on the T.A.M.I. Show, 1964

One of my favorite all-time performances. Glad to see it being passed around so much lately, thanks to David Remnick’s appreciation in the New Yorker.

One thing I didn’t know:

This was the first time that Brown, while singing “Please, Please, Please,” pulled out his “cape act,” in which, in the midst of his own self-induced hysteria, his fit of longing and desire, he drops to his knees, seemingly unable to go on any longer, at the point of collapse, or worse. His backup singers, the Flames, move near, tenderly, as if to revive him, and an offstage aide, Danny Ray, comes on, draping a cape over the great man’s shoulders. Over and over again, Brown recovers, throws off the cape, defies his near-death collapse, goes back into the song, back into the dance, this absolute abandonment to passion.

Of course, James Brown, like so many soul acts, stole straight from the church:

That falling-to-the-knees-overcome-with-emotion dramaturgy is straight out of the Holiness Church, out of a belief system holding, in the charnel heat of the moment, that a person could be overpowered by a sudden tap from the Holy Ghost. Holy Ghost jumpers were what they called those filled with the spirit in the earliest days of Pentecostalism. It was a form of possession, of yielding with glory to a higher force. Many figures in the black Pentecostal tradition wore the cape.

There’s so many things I love about this performance — be sure to note towards the end how you can see the dust from the stage on James’ knees from falling down so much. Incredible.

You can get the full T.A.M.I show on DVD here.

Jun 30, 2014

10 things I didn’t know about Richard Linklater

There’s a really terrific profile of filmmaker Richard Linklater in this week’s New Yorker. (Here’s a podcast of the writer, Nathan Heller (@nathanheller), talking about Linklater’s work—the drawing above is something I doodled at SXSW in 2009.)

10 interesting things I discovered while reading the piece:

1. He started as a playwright, but watching movies helped him discover he could think in terms of images.

He was still writing short stories, and, as an exercise, tried adapting one into a screenplay. “I could see the whole movie in my head—all the shots and angles. I thought, Oh, I’ve got this visual thing.”

2. He went to college on a baseball scholarship

He recalls daydreaming in the outfield about how he wished he had more time to read. He then contracted an infection in his heart, and all the sudden, he was forbidden to play baseball. He spent the rest of his sophomore year staying up late in the college library, writing.

3. He quit college to work on an oil rig

If he wasn’t playing baseball, he’d have to make up the time in work-study employment, and he didn’t want to do that. A friend helped him get a summer job working on an oil rig. It paid well, and gave him many free hours to read and write, so Linklater asked if he could stay on that fall. He never returned to school.

4. In his early twenties, he watched 600 films a year

whenever he came back to the mainland, in Houston, he would watch movies: first two a day, then three, then four… “I felt I’d discovered something, like this whole world had opened up,“ he says. “I was greedy for it.”

5. He moved to Austin in 1983 with $18,000 in savings

He bought some film equipment and would “write, shoot, edit, and watch film eighteen hours a day.”

6. Slacker was filmed for $23,000

It got picked up for national distribution and eventually “made back more than fifty times its tiny budget.”

7. He re-writes his screenplays during rehearsal

He schedules a lot of rehearsal time—two solid weeks or so before production starts—and goes through each scene in an open-ended way, talking about character motivations and getting actors to riff. Most of the rehearsal time is spent rewriting the screenplay, line by line, drawing out and molding his work against performers’ strengths and styles.

8. He offers his stars percentage points instead of Hollywood fees

He calls this “betting on myself,” and if the bet is good, which it almost always is, it makes the director as free and self-sovereign as a novelist.

9. He lost most of his archives in the 2011 Bastrop wildfires

One of the few structures untouched by the fire was the library, a small two-story building clad with multicolored tile, where Linklater likes to write. The preservation of his work space was striking to him. By 2011, he had reached a phase of comfortable accomplishment… “I felt done,” he said… The blaze, in some peculiar way, demotivated him. “The fire came, and it was like, Oh, O.K. You don’t want me to be done.”

10. He’s working on a movie about the American Transcendentalists

Emerson, Thoreau, and the gang. He’s been working on it for 15 years, but “hasn’t found a way to make something that isn’t a ‘bonnet movie’ period piece.”

Jun 20, 2014

RIP cartoonist Charles Barsotti 1933-2014

My favorite signature in the New Yorker. He grew up just down the road:

Charles Barsotti – or “Charley,” as nearly everyone called him – was born September 28, 1933, in San Marcos, Texas. “Everything down there either had thorns on it or bit,” he said of his hometown when I interviewed him in January 2013, “and that includes the adults.” Howard, his father, sold furniture in San Antonio, where Charley was raised. His mother, the delightfully named Dicey Belle Branum, was a schoolteacher. Barsotti credited his hard-working parents with inspiring his own determined work ethic. “That, and fear,” he added.

If you’re unfamiliar with his work, Bob Mankoff has a nice small gallery of his cartoons, and there’s a collection called, simply, The Essential Charles Barsotti.

Jun 15, 2014

The cartoonist Paul Karasik explains why his candidate for the perfect cartoon is this classic by Peter Arno: http://nyr.kr/1itW3KY

Arno is amazing. I love this era of New Yorker cartooning. (See also: Charles Addams)


The cartoonist Paul Karasik explains why his candidate for the perfect cartoon is this classic by Peter Arno: http://nyr.kr/1itW3KY

Arno is amazing. I love this era of New Yorker cartooning. (See also: Charles Addams)

(Source: newyorker.com)

Dec 08, 2012

Saul Steinberg New Yorker Covers

Steinberg did 87 covers for the New Yorker. Eighty-seven! (You can see most of the covers and his illustrations in Saul Steinberg at the New Yorker)

Filed under: Saul Steinberg

Oct 19, 2012

Barry Blitt covers Norman Rockwell


Next week’s cover, “Skin Deep,” by Barry Blitt, pays homage to the Norman Rockwell painting “The Tattoo Artist.” We asked Blitt how he came up with this idea. “My grandfather was a Sunday painter, he used to copy a lot of Norman Rockwell paintings, so I was aware of all the classic images at a very young age,” he told us. “Mitt Romney looks like he stepped out of one of those pictures.”

Blitt is so good. (via)

Jul 30, 2012

Jul 29, 2012
Analog Instapaper.
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