Nathan Hellerexplores the appeal of a TV genre that has become “bizarrely popular” in Norway:
“Though slow TV appears to reach back to simpler times, it is in many ways the realization of twenty-first-century media technology, relying, for its full effect, on footage that’s high-definition, organic, and continuous.”
“The essence of Roberts’s appeal—notably old-fashioned, if you think about it—is that she is more lovable than desirable, and that, even when love is off the menu, she cannot not be liked. There is no more flattering illusion in movies, none that we prefer to hear over and over again: here is a goddess, and she wants to be your friend.”—Anthony Lane, in a newly unlocked 2001 story on Julia Roberts.
Ben Greenman on Prince’s new album, “Art Official Age”:
“It’s worth thinking about what it means for Prince to step into new territory. He has spent years trying to recapture pieces of his old self … Here, for the first time, he suggests an alternative: maybe there’s an entirely new Prince music, possibly aided and abetted by Joshua Welton, that harnesses his talents and his vision. Maybe he’s not condemned to auto-pastiche.”
“It’s hard not to read in all the public outpouring of emotion these past few weeks and months, during Jeter’s farewell tour, a kind of outsized mourning, as if he were not just a retiring Yankee captain but the sport’s last true hero.”—Ben McGrath, in a farewell to Derek Jeter.
Sarah Larsonreviews a new biography of the late comedian Phil Hartman:
“‘You Might Remember Me’ is valuable—a well-reported, thorough portrait of an artist. But it has a few flaws. For one thing, it isn’t very funny. Hartman was funny, God knows, but [Mike] Thomas’s ear is unreliable, as is, sometimes, his taste.”
“Whatever the reason, and even if his commitment to civil rights did not waver, his disregard for digital rights was blatant and painful for those who looked to and hoped for an Obama Administration that would become the much promised ‘tech Presidency.’”—Tim Wu examines Attorney General Eric Holder’s disappointing tech legacy.
“Mr. Mayor, it is the irony of all ironies that Groundhog Day, the only day on which anyone gives a damn about the groundhog, is also the worst day of the year to be a groundhog. For us, it is the opposite of Christmas Day. Our groundhog children stay up all night crying about what the mayor will do to the adult groundhogs. It does not even matter whether we have been naughty or nice groundhogs, which is where the metaphor breaks down. Still, we think it is a powerful image.”—An open letter from groundhogs to Mayor Bill de Blasio.
“The Einstein of 1933 has become fairly reconciled to the occupation of popular idol … but his countenance still reflects the bewilderment of his early years as a demigod in spite of himself. Permanent astonishment shines from his great eyes under their apprehensive brows.”—Alva Johnston, in his 1933 Profile of Albert Einstein.
Eric Holder was the nation’s first black Attorney General. In light of his announced resignation, David Cole reflects on Holder’s tenure:
"No one in government has done more that Eric Holder to reduce the racial injustices that pervade law enforcement on a daily basis. …
His real legacy lies in his refusal to be a coward on matters of race, and his courage in using the power and influence of his office to press the arc of our criminal law a little closer toward justice.”
James Woodreviews Eimear McBride’s début novel, “A Girl Is a Half-Formed Thing”:
“Her prose is a visceral throb, and the sentences run meanings together to produce a kind of compression in which words, freed from the tedious march of sequence, seem to want to merge with one another, as paint and musical notes can. The results are thrilling, and also thrillingly efficient.”
“Long before feminism made fashion a guilty pleasure, my first experience of the sisterhood among strangers took place in a communal dressing room.”—Judith Thurman on “Women in Clothes,” a book of fashion-related interviews with over 600 women from around the globe.
“Why did President Obama spend the entirety of his speech yesterday saying nothing but ‘President Obama addresses the nation. Fox News,’ over and over again? I don’t think I’m out of line in saying that there could be some issues of mental unbalance here.
Correction: I had Obama’s speech on mute. I thought closed captioning was on, but it wasn’t.”
“To translate it from Canadian into American terms, it is as if someone had found, in a single moment, the hull of the Titanic, the solution to the mystery of the lost colony at Roanoke, the original flag of ‘The Star-Spangled Banner,’ and the menu for the Donner Party’s last meal.”—Adam Gopnik on the finding of the Franklin ship.
Charles McGrathremembers the poet and translator, who wrote over a hundred pieces for the magazine:
“In the offices of The New Yorker then, Alastair seemed like a world citizen, a Marco Polo of literature, returned with news of riches we had never imagined. … To his admiring younger colleagues he was a living connection to a vast, glittering literary web. If you shook hands with Alastair, we imagined, you touched the hand that had steered Borges by the elbow, that had slapped the back of Gabo, tossed back shots with Neruda, and, if you included Graves, that had shook the hand that shook the hand of Thomas Hardy.”
“Hollywood doesn’t set the styles. New York doesn’t set the styles. Paris doesn’t set the styles. It’s the people who wear them who establish fashions, and don’t let anyone tell you different.”—Lois Long, writing from Hollywood in the early twentieth century. Read her 1936 story on the emergence of high fashion in the West.
“From two pieces of string and oil-fattened feathers he made a father.
She made a mother from loss buttons and ocean debris.”—An excerpt from Caroline Bowman's poem "Makeshift," which appears in this week’s issue.