The New Yorker
Condé Nast is America's premier upmarket magazine publisher. Included in its distinguished stable are many legendary publications. Condé journalists are among the most skilled in the world.
On the GalleyCat website was word that the completely revamped New Yorker website would be available for free throughout the summer of 2014. About every 10 years I get a good offer from The New Yorker and give it one more try. However, it always seems so very full of itself with interminably long articles. I never renew.
Whenever comedian Red Skelton did a live stand-up gig, he would dutifully get the names and addresses of the local committee members and dignitaries involved. Back at his hotel, Skelton would write personal notes to each on Christmas cards and address the envelopes. Then in early December, he would mail them. The result: thrilled townspeople and repeat engagements.
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Would you like to donate to the Obama campaign? Sign up for a college course? Or maybe subscribe to Architectural Digest? If you have ever felt inundated by such solicitations, by email or by snail mail, you may have wondered what you did to deserve it. I did. I wondered how all those campaigns, companies and institutions got my number. And how much money data brokers behind the scenes might make by flipping my name and address. Turns out there’s no easy way for consumers in the United States to track the data dealers
I work every day. Compulsively. Being a political junkie, I'll take a break Sunday morning if any of the talk shows have interesting guests. What I want is a quick, down-'n'-dirty schedule: 1) Name of the show; 2) who are the guests; 3) the panel of babble-heads. With that information, I can make a view/no-view decision in 20 seconds.
As I get older—and my time on this planet gets shorter—I go berserk when people promise one thing in writing, deliver something else and waste my time.
At right "IN THE NEWS" is the lede of Howard Shapiro's review of "Death of a Salesman" by Arthur Miller at the University of Delaware, roughly an hour's drive from my house in center city Philadelphia.
I wanted to know one thing quickly: was this production worth the trip?
Of the 403-word review, the first 88 words are devoted to the excruciatingly dull details of how Shapiro got stuck in stop-and-go 8 mph traffic that caused him to miss Act I.
Shapiro spends the next 94 words dumping all over Arthur Miller's first act—which he has not seen:
Ah, yes, the babbling, daydreaming Willy Loman, aging badly from a hard life of sales on the road, is in his Brooklyn house, frightening his wife with his erratic behavior. He's also yelling at his grown boys—particularly Biff, who had been Willy's great hope and now is his constant disappointment.
In all, 182 words—or 45 percent of this supposed review—are expended (1) highlighting Howard Shapiro's self-described inability to keep an appointment and (2) wasting my time.
Shapiro and his editor—if such an animal exists in the bankrupt Philadelphia Inquirer—should be fired for letting this irrelevant drivel see print.
My message to Howard Shapiro—and to everyone that writes for public consumption (as opposed to private diaries or journals):
- Consider the readers needs and wants before your own
- Ruthlessly self-edit, because most businesses do not have professional editors.
Late last summer I ordered two pairs of chino trousers from L.L. Bean and a couple polo shirts, which arrived a day or two later. I clothed my upper and lower halves with the new merchandise, and both pieces fit my dreadful flesh-case beautifully.
Where Land's End trousers seem to slip off the spare tire of my middle and threaten to drop down around my ankles just when I'm carrying a heavy sack of groceries in one hand and a gallon of Stoli in the other, these marvels from L.L. Bean look and feel custom tailored. I was thrilled.
When it came time to wash them, I looked at the label to see what the settings should be and discovered the polo shirts were made in Thailand. On the chino trousers label, a line of copy made my blood run cold.
"Made in China."
The Chinese government is brutal, repressive and vicious. In China, a nation of polluters, a new coal-fired plant comes online every 10 days. The brown cloud over Beijing is disgusting. The Chinese are also state-sanctioned killers of girl babies. In addition, they kill other babies (poisoned milk), American children (lead paint in toys), beloved dogs (poisoned pet food) and Tibetan monks, as well as being jailers of dissidents and the press. China's blatant counterfeiting of luxury and everyday products—together with massive theft of intellectual property—is responsible for billions of dollars in losses the world over.
I resent L.L. Bean making me an unwitting accomplice to criminal behavior.
Last week, I picked up the July 28 issue of The New Yorker and was fascinated to see a story titled: “All the Answers: The quiz-show scandals—and the aftermath,” by Charles Van Doren. For 50 years, Charles Van Doren has been consigned to living hell. He’s one of the few notable Americans (along with Bill Clinton) who knows that he screwed up so badly that the first paragraph of his obituary will deal with a major scandal rather than his accomplishments. Three examples of unfortunate first paragraphs: Richard M. Nixon, the 37th president of the United States—a polarizing figure who won a record landslide
I’ve written a number of times that one way to deal harshly with unfriendly media is to deny access: Issue no press credentials. Force them to stand with their noses to the window pane and regurgitate the same AP or Reuters stories that all the other cheapskate newspapers and magazines use. That the Obama campaign has denied access to The New Yorker is delicious. I have 104 days to make up my mind, and I’m still not sure about Barack Obama or John McCain. Will this be yet another presidential election where I go into a voting booth holding my nose and pulling the