High-feminine instead of fetishistically masculine, glittery rather than gritty, and daring in its conception of character, “Sex and the City” was a brilliant and, in certain ways, radical show. It also originated the unacknowledged first female anti-hero on television: ladies and gentlemen, Carrie Bradshaw.
Why is the show so often portrayed as a set of empty, static cartoons, an embarrassment to womankind? It’s a classic misunderstanding, I think, stemming from an unexamined hierarchy: the assumption that anything stylized (or formulaic, or pleasurable, or funny, or feminine, or explicit about sex rather than about violence, or made collaboratively) must be inferior.
Emily Nussbaum: How “Sex and the City” Lost its Good Name : The New Yorker
Brubeck liked to save money, didn’t smoke, and limited himself to one martini before dinner. (Paul Desmond, the quartet’s sax player, explained Brubeck’s experiments in hedonism this way: “Every five years or so, Dave makes a major breakthrough, like discovering room service.”)
Profiles: Dave Brubeck : The New Yorker
The part that matters most to me:
I am writing a book called “Wagnerism: Art in the Shadow of Music”
The Case for Allowing Richard Wagner’s Music to be Performed in Israel : The New Yorker
Maiming and death are just as central to Anderson’s vision of things as are all the precise costumes that his characters wear. Misfortune comes just as suddenly to dogs as it does to humans. By including the beloved dog in this condition of life, he reminds us that no one is safe. […] Another way to look at it is that these dogs are most often punished as collateral damage of the moral and practical ineptitude of adults.
Does Wes Anderson hate dogs?: The New Yorker
In the moment of playing, the logistics of just hitting the notes distract you somewhat from the continuous choices you are making. In the edit you have nothing but choice. And yet you feel helpless, since everything has already been played.
Flight of the Concord: The perils of the recording studio by Jeremy Denk – The New Yorker
There’s only one problem with home cinema: it doesn’t exist. The very phrase is an oxymoron. As you pause your film to answer the door or fetch a Coke, the experience ceases to be cinema. Even the act of choosing when to watch means you are no longer at the movies. Choice—preferably an exhaustive menu of it—pretty much defines our status as consumers, and has long been an unquestioned tenet of the capitalist feast, but in fact carte blanche is no way to run a cultural life (or any kind of life, for that matter), and one thing that has nourished the theatrical experience, from the Athens of Aeschylus to the multiplex, is the element of compulsion. Someone else decides when the show will start; we may decide whether to attend, but, once we take our seats, we join the ride and surrender our will. The same goes for the folks around us, whom we do not know, and whom we resemble only in our private desire to know more of what will unfold in public, on the stage or screen. We are strangers in communion, and, once that pact of the intimate and the populous is snapped, the charm is gone. Our revels now are ended.
See also Brian Eno on surrender.
Home Movies: “Tower Heist,” “Melancholia,” and the battle over video on demand – The New Yorker
Last year, Midas, the muffler company, in honor of its fiftieth anniversary, gave an award for America’s longest commute to an engineer at Cisco Systems, in California, who travels three hundred and seventy-two miles—seven hours—a day, from the Sierra foothills to San Jose and back. “It’s actually exhilarating,” the man said of his morning drive.
There and Back Again: The Soul of the Commuter – The New Yorker
The most beautiful truck on earth—Don Ainsworth’s present sapphire-drawn convexing elongate stainless mirror—gets a smidgen over six miles to the gallon.
In a nice moment of literary convergence, I finished this awesome essay by John McPhee while taking a break from the photography book Truckers. Creative Loafing did a nice interview with writer Mary Richardson. It’s a whole different world.
A Fleet of One: Eighty thousand pounds of Dangerous Goods – The New Yorker
I wish this weren’t behind a paywall. It was one of my favorite pieces in last week’s very good issue.
Lore Segal: “Spry for Frying” – The New Yorker
One of a cycle of ninety-two illustrations produced by Botticelli for a fifteen-century manuscript of Dante’s Divine Comedy. Slide Show: Treasures from the Vatican Library.
Alex Ross on tour with Radiohead. I like this bit from Nigel Godrich on Radiohead’s ongoing effort to figure out their sound and musical directions. At one point,
People stopped talking to one another. ‘Insanity’ is the word. In the end, I think the debate was redundant, because the band ultimately kept doing what it has always done—zigzagging between extremes. Whenever we really did try to impose an aesthetic from the outside—the aesthetic being, say, electronic—it would fail. All the drama was just a form of procrastination.
The Searchers: Radiohead’s unquiet revolution – The New Yorker