5.3.2009 New York Times Digest


1. “Visible Young Man”

“He’s a Smiths-loving, Brooks Brothers-wearing son of moneyed blacks who summer in Long Island and recognize the characters on The Cosby Show as kindred spirits. ‘According to the world we were the definition of paradox: black boys with beach houses. A paradox to the outside, but it never occurred to us that there was anything strange about it. It was simply who we were,’ Whitehead writes. ‘What you call paradox, I call myself.'”

2. “As a Professor, Obama Held Pragmatic Views on Court”

“Former students and colleagues describe Mr. Obama as a minimalist (skeptical of court-led efforts at social change) and a structuralist (interested in how the law metes out power in society). And more than anything else, he is a pragmatist who urged those around him to be more keenly attuned to the real-life impact of decisions. This may be his distinguishing quality as a legal thinker: an unwillingness to deal in abstraction, a constant desire to know how court decisions affect people’s lives.”

3. “David H. Souter: Justice Unbound”

“To focus on his eccentricities — his daily lunch of yogurt and an apple, core and all; the absence of a computer in his personal office — is to miss the essence of a man who in fact is perfectly suited to his job, just not to its trappings. His polite but persistent questioning of lawyers who appear before the court displays his meticulous preparation and his mastery of the case at hand and the cases relevant to it. Far from being out of touch with the modern world, he has simply refused to surrender to it control over aspects of his own life that give him deep contentment: hiking, sailing, time with old friends, reading history.”

4. “When Pontiac Meant Muscle”

“Mr. Collins pointed out that the husky V-8 from a Bonneville or Grand Prix would fit into the same space occupied by the Tempest’s tame engine. It was a head-slapping moment for engineers in search of performance.”

5. “Memos to Hollywood”

“Enough with the winking, tiresome pop-culture allusions, the self-conscious celebrity voiceovers, the knowing jokiness, the insincere moralizing. Try telling a simple story with conviction.”

6. “What Made Summer Memorable”

Stardust Memories” is a movie within a movie within a memory within a childhood wish-fulfillment fantasy within a hallucinogenic interlude that circles back around into a movie all over again.”

7. “Craft House”

Always in fridge: Fresca. It is just a great drink. No calories; tastes like citrus. Also there’ll be bacon or some kind of cured pork.”

8. “World Music”

“ThruYOU is an album of seven original songs, each built from dozens of fragments of video clips of (mostly amateur) musicians, selected from among the seemingly endless footage of music lessons and private recitals archived on YouTube.”

9. “The Call Back”

“I am a big fan of [Superman] Returns. I’m working on what is now a 20-page review of that movie, and I’m not done yet.”


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