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Posts Tagged ‘James Fallows

The Annals of Radical Juxtaposition: Special Journalism Edition…

From Jim Fallows’ always-illuminating Atlantic blog, “Many Mental Patients Simply Walk Out“:

I mentioned yesterday that I was “sure” it was an “accident” that the NYT juxtaposed two stories on its home page about artificial-heart devices. The first story said that former VP Cheney had gotten one; the second, that too many people were getting them.

Reader Mike Diehl says that I was correct to put the air quotes (OK, electronic quotes) where I did. He writes:

>>Had I seen that, I would not have had a doubt the pairing was intentional. I still have a copy of the New York Times from August 8, 1974 — one day before Richard Nixon resigned the presidency. On the front page at the bottom is a photo of Nixon, walking from the Executive Office Building to the White House, juxtaposed with an article headlined, “Many Mental Patients Simply Walk Out.”

Searching for this page, which I am delighted to have found and am attaching here, I note that quite a number of articles on mental health facilities were published in the paper that summer, several making the front page. Two front-page pieces I found are adjacent to articles on Nixon, but none so juicy as the one I cite above. However, on July 31, a front-page piece by Lawrence van Gelder headlined “Mental Patient Held As Church Arsonist” is sandwiched between two articles on Watergate, one headlined “President Surrenders 11 Tapes to Sirica,” the other a reproduction of the text of Impeachment Article III. Coincidence? I think not.

As a graphic designer, I’m aware the opportunities to make such a wry statement with mere page layout are rare, but the New York Times is no stranger to the practice.<<

click image above, or here, to enlarge

On a vaguely-related (and marginally-suitable-for-work) front, readers might enjoy “15 Funniest Accidentally Naughty Headlines,” e.g…

 

As we ponder the future of journalism, we might recall that it was on this date in 1997 that the Italian government issued the 1,000 Lire coin, the reverse side of which features a European map on which Germany (which reunited in 1990) is shown as still divided into East and West.  The coins were discontinued the following year.

source

 

The Sincerest Form of Flattery, Part Two: The Wonders of Cultural Appropriation…

From the always-amusing 11 Points (“Because Top Ten Lists Are For Cowards”), “11 Amazing Fake Harry Potter Books Written In China“…

From Harry Potter and the Leopard Walk-Up-To Dragon (cover above)…

…the author took the text of J.R.R. Tolkien’s “The Hobbit” and replaced the character names with names from the Harry Potter universe. Except for Gandalf — he remains and joins forces with the Potter crew. Here’s a passage, full on [SIC] in advance:

“There was a hobbit, who didn’t even know how to return home. He lived in a hole in the ground, and didn’t know where he came from or where he was going to. He even didn’t know why he had become a hobbit. This was Hogwartz School of Witchcraft and Wizardry 5th year apprentice Harry Potter.”

…through Rich Dad, Poor Dad and Harry Potter

I couldn’t find a translation of this book (or a picture of its cover) but the title just kills me — smashing together two completely unrelated, but popular, Western book series to produce (I’m guessing) a non-sequitur mess. It would be like the bootleggers making a movie called “Avatar: The Hangover” or a TV show called “Laverne and Shirley and Jon and Kate”.

… to Harry Potter and Platform Nine-and-Three-Quarters

This is an interesting literary move — they just carbon copied the plot of the first real “Harry Potter” book… but moved the voice to Harry’s first-person perspective. That’s some deep “Rosencrantz and Guildenstern” stuff right there.

An excerpt:

“This was a secret I had cherished in my heart for seven days. It scratched my heart and made it itch, and I decided not to tell anyone of it. But when I saw Hedwig, my owl, jumping outside my window, I knew it was the call from Hogwarts for me.

I would ride on my favorite flying broom, together with Hedwig and my magic wand, go-go-go, night clouds in the urban sky would cover my trails, and the meteor you saw in the sky was my traipsing manteau.”

The other eight Harrys, along with some absolutely stunning cover art– including the jacket for Harry Potter and Beaker and Burn, onto which Harry welcomes (for no explicable reason) Flick, the star of Pixar’s A Bug’s Life— at  “11 Amazing Fake Harry Potter Books Written In China.”

Readers might note that cultural appropriation of this sort has long (and storied) precedent.  Jim Fallows quotes a wonderful passage from “”Wild Bird Hickcock and His Friends,”  an essay by James Thurber– a fan of French pulp-novel versions of American Westerns:

There were, in my lost and lamented collection, a hundred other fine things, which I have forgotten, but there is one that will forever remain with me. It occurred in a book in which, as I remember it, Billy the Kid, alias Billy the Boy, was the central figure. At any rate, two strangers had turned up in a small Western town and their actions had aroused the suspicions of a group of respectable citizens, who forthwith called on the sheriff to complain about the newcomers. The sheriff listened gravely for a while, got up and buckled on his gun belt, and said, “Alors, je vais demander ses cartes d’identité!” There are few things, in any literature, that have ever given me a greater thrill than coming across that line.

As we realize that we too are free to mash up, say, Dostoyevsky, we might recall that it was on this date in 1954 that Bill Haley & His Comets released “Rock Around the Clock”, the first rock and roll record to reach number one on the Billboard charts.

Bill Haley and a couple of Comets

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