Monday, June 21, 2010

Brooklyn Photos

Kids playing in front of the Brooklyn Museum of Art; they're leaning over a fountain

Koi feeding frenzy at the Brooklyn Botanical Gardens

Witty graffiti.  I love this kind of conversational graffiti - like person who wrote it is trying to make a little offhand comment to all the other people in the subway.  It brings New Yorkers together.  This one's an ad for vodka.  The text reads, "Our ambassador Paul tried it. And he was all 'This is so good I would bathe in it.' So being the marketing guys at 42Below, we let him. Is that so wrong?"  So the grafitti artist wrote, "It is if your vodka 'is so good'."

Thursday, June 10, 2010

In the Company of Writers by Charles Scribner Jr.

In the Company of Writers is, more or less, a publishing memoir.  The author, one in a long line of Charles Scribners, helmed Scribners during a pretty fascinating, transitional period in the industry - and in his own company.  He took over at the tail end of the Max Perkins era, when Scribners was a powerhouse of major voices in literature (Hemingway, Fitzgerald, etc.), and stayed on through the company's merger with Macmillan, when Scribners became an imprint of a major conglomerate instead of an independent company.

He's so matter-of-fact about the position of privilege he was born into that it's impossible to resent him for it, and he didn't squander his advantages - he had an excellent education, for example, and so he became a student of Latin and Greek, was passionate about the history of science, and had an active life of the mind well into his twilight years.  He seems - and, really, it's impossible to know the truth through the text - but he seems like a true gentleman, in the best sense of the word.  And he describes his years at Scribners, working with authors like Hemingway, coping with the paperback revolution, and just generally staying afloat, with appealing candor.  There are some great little anecdotes, too.

Either because the author himself was influenced stylistically by his authors, or because much of the book was crafted out of an oral history (Scribner was too old to undertake a memoir on his own, so he told his story and let someone else do the writing), or thanks to the intermediary who translated Scribner's speech into text, the book is gorgeously written and gives a stylistic nod to Hemingway.  Before I read Hemingway, I really resented the overwhelming influence he has exerted on American writers.  Now that I've read Hemingway, I wish more people would write like him.  I guess that's how it goes sometimes.  So the prose here is gorgeous, and it's a pretty quick, easy read.

I really liked this book.  It captures a time and a place, and it seems really wise to me.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010


The New York Times has these ads running around town right now.  I know people who find the NYT motto "All the news that's fit to print" unbearably  arrogant, but as a mission statement I think it's excellent.  It's ambitious and bold and...oh's about their desire to cover the news.

These ads, on the other hand, are just narcissism.  As though, for some reason, the New York Times wants to position itself as the Paris Hilton of news organizations.  

Friday, June 4, 2010

Wouldn't it be nice.

I was chatting about the new Sex & the City movie, and how I don't plan on seeing it.  I was a fan of the TV show, not a huge fan but I made a point of watching new episodes when they came out.  I liked the love letter to New York, I liked the idea that people could be friends even when they were so different, I liked the clothes, I liked that all the girls met each new romantic adventure with hope, though the shows contained no shortage of disappointment and frustration and heartbreak.

The new movie has been so widely and thoroughly panned that I don't need to describe, here, why I don't plan on seeing it.  But during this little chat I did think of something that would have made a 2nd Sex and the City movie watchable, justifiable, and interesting.  What if it had been a movie where those 4 well-heeled, materialistic girls...were poor?  What if some of them suffered a lot during the economic downturn, but others didn't...would the friendship endure, and how?  What if Big didn't work for a year and a half - would Carrie still find him so utterly hot?

It would have been nice to see a movie about a friendship that lasts through disasters and disparities of that magnitude.  And I bet it could have been fun and inspiring as well.

It was suggested to me that there were probably a lot of other potential plots that could have resulted in a better movie than the one we got.  No doubt.  Any other ideas?