2.17.2008 New York Times Digest

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1. “Gatsby’s Green Light Beckons a New Set of Strivers”

“Some educators say the best way to engage racially and ethnically diverse students in reading is with books that mirror their lives and culture. But others say that while a variety of literary voices is important, ‘Gatsby’ — still required reading at half the high schools in the country — resonates powerfully among urban adolescents, many of them first- and second-generation immigrants, who are striving to ascend in 21st-century America.”

2. “As O’Neal’s Shadow Fades, Who Will Cast the Next One?”

“It is hard … to picture the N.B.A.’s spotlight event without O’Neal’s breakdancing, rattling basket stanchions, crashing gratuitously into courtside seats, dribbling coast to coast as a 7-foot-1 point-center (complete with crossover dribble), posing for television cameras, handing out nicknames to players, clowning around on the bench and cracking up the news media horde.”

3. “The Charisma Mandate”

“‘Today, attacks on the cult of personality seem really to mean attacks on the ability to make speeches that inspire,’ Mr. Caro said in an interview. “But you only have to look at crucial moments in the history of our time to see how crucial it was to have a leader who could inspire, who could rally a nation to a standard, who could infuse a country with confidence, to remind people of the justice of a cause.’”

4. “Boys Will Be Boys, Girls Will Be Hounded by the Media”

“Men who fall from grace are treated with gravity and distance, while women in similar circumstances are objects of derision, titillation and black comedy.”

5. “The New Black”

“Brown men’s shoes, popular with the aristocracy in the 1930s, when they were championed by the Prince of Wales and Hollywood movie royalty, are being revived in Manhattan. After World War II, the conventional black shoe returned, except among upper-class European men, who continued to wear brown suede wingtip styles with their business suits. The Italian industrialist Giovanni Agnelli popularized this Continental style of brown shoes in many shades, highly polished to achieve an aged patina. Today the shoes are worn with business suits and casual weekend blue jeans.”

6. “When There Is No ‘We’ in Marriage”

“In their marriage, Jennifer Belle, a novelist, and Andrew Krents, an entertainment lawyer, take the separation part to the extreme. It is almost as if they are afraid of spending too much time together. ‘Familiarity breeds contempt,’ Mr. Krents said.”

7. “Is PBS Still Necessary?”

“On the other side of the ledger the audience for public radio has been growing: there are more than 30 million listeners now, compared to just 2 million in 1980. ‘Morning Edition’ and ‘All Things Considered,’ NPR’s morning and evening news programs, are the second and fourth most listened to shows in the country. Go figure. Who would have guessed 40 years ago, when public broadcasting came into being, that the antique medium, the one supposedly on its way out, would prove to be the greater success and the one more technically nimble. You can even download NPR broadcasts onto your iPod.”

8. “When Mrs. Robinson Met Dr. Dolittle”

“The book’s design is to track all five movies from conception to release, a happy strategy that both illuminates American filmmaking during that period and demonstrates how little the world in which the movies surfaced resembled the one in which they had been conceived. Harris’s account, like John Gregory Dunne’s book The Studio or Peter Biskind’s Easy Riders, Raging Bulls, provides us with what’s come to be the accepted narrative of aging and out-of-touch moguls panicked at their increasing inability to read the market, unable to comprehend the implications of their audience’s seismic demographic shift toward youth and overcommitting to big-ticket items.”

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