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Posts Tagged ‘New Yorker

“I did not deceive you, mon ami. At most, I permitted you to deceive yourself.”*…

Agatha Christie was in her mid-20s when, in 1916, she took up what seemed the improbable endeavor of penning her first detective novel. It was so unlikely, in fact, that her elder sister, Madge, with whom she had always competed, dared Agatha to accomplish the feat, certain of her sibling’s eventual failure.

At the time, Christie was married to an officer in Britain’s Royal Flying Corps and working at a hospital in Torquay, England, first as a nurse and subsequently in the dispensary, preparing and providing medicines. It was in the latter job that she developed a fascination with poisons that would endure over the next six decades, supplying murderous means in many of her best-known books, including that very first one, The Mysterious Affair at Styles, which was published 100 years ago this month.

Styles was an early and influential contribution to what’s now called the Golden Age of detective fiction, a period that stretched arguably from the 1920s through the 1940s…

Christie’s debut novel was famously rejected by a host of publishers. Many, many editions later, it’s an iconic mystery: “The Agatha Christie Centennial- 100 years of The Mysterious Affair at Styles.”

* Hercule Poirot, The Mysterious Affair at Styles

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As we muse on mysteries, we might send powerfully-composed birthday greetings to another prolific author, Abbott Joseph “A. J.” Liebling; he was born on this date in 1904. A journalist and essayist, he is considered a patron saint of New Journalism for his World War II coverage and work like the essays in The Sweet Science (named by Sports Illustrated, in 2002, the best sports book of all time).

His longest association (from 1935 until his death in 1963) was with the New Yorker. Current editor David Remnick writes:

Joy, pure and immediate, is a rare literary experience. Liebling provides it. And, from everything we know, joy is what he felt in the creating. No matter what else he may have been facing in his life—misery in marriage, persistent debt, the obesity and sickness that were the price of his appetites—he revelled in his work. Liebling so enjoyed himself at the offices of The New Yorker, where he worked for twenty-eight years, that he could be heard humming and snorting with laughter as he pulled the sheets from his typewriter and read them over. He knocked himself out, if he did say so himself. Reticence was not his way. Like Trollope polishing off several thousand words before leaving for his day job as surveyor general of Waltham Cross, Liebling wrote at a blinding rate, publishing hundreds of pieces, of all lengths, colors, and moods. He was occasionally seen in the magazine’s bathroom stripped to the waist, washing up after a night’s exertion at his Remington.

Reporting It All

Oh, and it was Liebling who coined the epithet “Second City” for Chicago.

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“Oo ee oo ah ah ting tang walla walla bing bang”*…

 

On this most bizarre of days, an alternative: hours of fun at The New Yorker‘s “Cartoons at Random.”

*  “The Witch Doctor

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As we fight the urge to bury our heads, we might spare a thought for John Ruskin; he died on this date in 1900.  Best remembered as the leading English art critic of the Victorian era, he was also an art patron, draughtsman, watercolourist, a prominent social thinker, and a philanthropist. He wrote on subjects as varied as geology, architecture, myth, ornithology, literature, education, botany, and political economy, and in styles and literary forms equally varied: Ruskin penned essays and treatises, poetry and lectures, travel guides and manuals, letters and even a fairy tale.

Ruskin was hugely influential in the latter half of the 19th century, and up to the First World War. After a period of relative decline, his reputation has steadily improved since the 1960s with the publication of numerous academic studies of his work.  Today, his ideas and concerns are widely recognized as having anticipated interest in environmentalism, sustainability, and craft.

You may either win your peace, or buy it:—win it, by resistance to evil;—buy it, by compromise with evil.

– Ruskin, The Work of Iron, in Nature, Art, and Policy. Lecture at Tunbridge Wells, February 16, 1858

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Written by LW

January 20, 2017 at 1:01 am

“This is the last avant-garde. Bold new forms. The power to shock.”*…

 

Avant Garde was a seminal, but somewhat obscure, magazine, launched in 1968, that broke taboos, rattled some nerves, and made more than a few enemies. The brainchild of Ralph Ginzburg, am adventurous publisher, it was the third major collaboration between Ginzburg and Herb Lubalin, the magazine’s widely-admired art director.

Avant Garde is the magazine that gave birth to a much maligned and equally lauded typeface of the same name. A typeface that reveled in the mutability of letterforms, exhibited brilliantly by its extensive set of ligatured characters. The magazine’s logo, which inspired the typeface, is a perfect encapsulation of what the magazine represented in 1968, the year the magazine launched: exciting, vibrant, edgy, with just the right amount of playfulness to move it out of the corporateness its geometric sans serif forms might otherwise imply. The magazine ran for 3 years, spanning 14 square-sized issues, and only folded due to Ralph Ginzburg losing his long-running legal battle with the US government over obscenity charges (partly stemming from Ralph’s and Herb’s first collaboration, Eros magazine)…

Now Alexander Tochilovsky and The Herb Lubalin Study Center of Design and Typography at the Cooper Union have digitized the entire run of Avant Garde and made it available on the web.

* Don DeLillo, White Noise

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As we speculate on The Shock of the New, we might send masterfully-observed birthday greetings to Saul Erik Steinberg; he was born on this date in 1914.  A cartoonist and illustrator (best known for his work for The New Yorker, most notably View of the World from 9th Avenue), he described himself as “a writer who draws.”

People who see a drawing in the New Yorker will think automatically that it’s funny because it is a cartoon. If they see it in a museum, they think it is artistic; and if they find it in a fortune cookie they think it is a prediction.

–  Saul Steinberg

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Written by LW

June 15, 2016 at 1:01 am

Appointed rounds…

 

Last week, the United States Postal Service announced that it would be ending Saturday letter deliveries as of August, 2013. The decision is partly financial—it will save a couple billion dollars—but then, the post office wouldn’t be going broke if not for a series of legislative mandates so absurd that they make the decision to sponsor Lance Armstrong look almost prudent.

To commemorate the change, The New Yorker has collected a series of its Postal cartoons– “Is the Post Office Being Funny?

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As we check the forecast for rain, sleet, or snow, we might recall that it was on this date in 1969 that a Florida audience enjoyed what they thought was a club performance by Aretha Franklin.  In the end the performer, a woman named Vickie Jones, was arrested for impersonating the diva, and charged with fraud–  but she was sufficiently entertaining that nobody in the club demanded a refund.

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Written by LW

February 15, 2013 at 1:01 am

No, literally…

Look at that giant amoeba.

From The Monkeys You Ordered, “literal New Yorker captions.”

It's 7:30

I’m dressed like a cowboy!

Many more at The Monkeys You Ordered.

As we sharpen our specificity, we might recall that it was on this date in 1943 that Frank C. Walker, FDR’s Postmaster General, introduced the Postal Code system: the Zone Code– the two digit signifier included in urban addresses until the introduction of zip codes, e.g.:

Ms. Margaret Mitchell
1001 Peachtree Avenue
Atlanta 13, Georgia

With the introduction of the Zip Code, the Zone Code became the last two digits of the five-digit locator.

Walker watching the President mail a letter with a Zone address (source: Smithsonian)

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