7.5.2009 New York Times Digest


1. “Once Around the Island With Gay Talese”

“In some 50 years as a writer, I do not recall ever proposing a story that would likely lead to getting my feet wet. But when an editor-acquaintance heard me say that I had never circumnavigated the city, he suggested it was about time I hop aboard the Circle Line and see what I would see.”

2. “Say Hello to Underachieving”

“The well-paying summer jobs that in previous years seemed like a birthright have grown scarce, and pre-professional internships are disappearing as companies cut back across the board. Recession-strapped parents don’t always have the means or will to bankroll starter apartments or art tours of Tuscany. So many college students and recent graduates are heading to where they least expected: back home, and facing an unfamiliar prospect: downtime, maybe too much of it.”

3. “Who’s Afraid of ‘NYC Prep’?”

“To be showy or prideful is not only culturally inappropriate, but also in supremely bad taste. To be showy or prideful on reality television appears to be even worse.”

4. “The Right Stuff (by Law)”

“Where Mr. Gosling — and his legal team — draw the line is the presence of other rums in a so-called Dark ‘n’ Stormy, which was invented in Bermuda just after World War I. ‘People will try one with some other rum, and then say, what’s the big deal with this drink?’ he said. ‘That’s a real concern.'”

5. “Stereo for One: A Brief Unaccompanied History”

“Thirty years later, the age-old challenge remains: knowing who and what and when to turn off.”

6. “She’s a Director Who’s Just Another Dude”

“Within the confines of its dizzyingly high concept Ms. Shelton has created an exploration of the male ego and the passionate rigors of platonic, dude-on-dude love.”

7. “Twitter Comes to the Rescue”

“As hotels, airlines and other travel companies line up on Twitter to promote their brands, customers who voice their grievances in the form of tweets are getting surprisingly fast responses for everything from bad airplane seats to poor room service.”

8. “No Rest for the Wealthy”

“To Veblen, the rise of a conspicuously consuming leisure class wasn’t a sign of progress. It was a relic of barbarism, an evolutionary step from feudalism, and, hence, un-American. The equation of luxury with British tyranny and decadence, which took hold in the revolutionary era, persisted through much of the 19th century. Since primogeniture had been abolished in America early on, and there wasn’t much point in possessing huge tracts of land when vast territories were available to the adventurous, the nation had little in the way of dynastic wealth or large enterprises. The Civil War crushed the one peculiar institution that had enabled a small-scale leisure class in the slaveholding South. But by the 1880s and 1890s, the new technologies — telegraph, steam, railroad, electricity — that had forged a national market in goods and services, and the rise of Wall Street as a financial center, were allowing businesspeople to amass great wealth practically overnight.”

9. “Remixed Messages”

“Possibly the best-known response graphic was created by Matt Jones, a product designer with the British-based firm Schulze & Webb. He was ‘in a grumpy mood’ when he happened to read an article in The Guardian about the ‘Keep Calm’ trend. ‘It was full of this sort of British fatalism,’ he recalls. Being of the mind-set that ‘we have to invent our way out of trouble,’ he started sketching.”

10. “Who Can Possibly Govern California?”

“Size is important to Schwarzenegger, as befits a champion bodybuilder. The first thing he asked me was how long this article would be. ‘About 9,000 words,’ I said, exaggerating slightly, wanting to impress him. ‘It’s a big story,’ he said, nodding, pleased. Schwarzenegger then relighted his cigar, using a lighter about the size of my hand. It was the biggest lighter I had ever seen, I told him, and he grinned, seeming glad that I had noticed. He flicked up another big orange flame, for special effect.”


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