Sunday 12.29.2019 New York Times Digest

1. The 2010s Were the End of Normal

“Apocalypse is not yet upon our world as the 2010s draw to an end, but there are portents of disorder.”

2. The Rikers Coffee Academy

“The barista program (it’s unpaid at Rikers) and a handful of others like it nationwide give inmates a new set of professional skills and a way to pass the time, but they also reflect a growing theory in the criminal justice system that the $88 billion coffee industry can soften the blow of incarceration and provide a critical link to employment.”

3. Twitter Made Us Better

“Many people who lacked public platforms 10 years ago — the young and members of marginalized groups in particular — are speaking up, insisting on being heard.”

4. The Cultural Canon Is Better Than Ever

“It’s not so much that canons have been completely obliterated, as Mr. Bloom and others feared — in any given collection, the old guard and their descendants have remained. But canons have continued to evolve, and new ones have sprung up alongside them.”

5. We Learned to Write the Way We Talk

“As writing has been expanding online into the informal conversational domains where speech used to be primary, the generations who spent their formative years online started expanding writing’s muted emotional range.”

6. Look Up

“At any given moment, thousands of them are so focused on their little screens that they fail to look up. Truly, they don’t know what they’re missing.”

7. The Decade of Disillusionment

“The sense of crisis, alienation and betrayal emerged more from backward glances than new disasters, reflecting newly-awakened — or awokened, if you prefer — readings of our recent history, our entire post-Cold War arc.”

8. Ralph Ellison’s Letters Reveal a Complex Philosopher of Black Expression

“He was a philosopher of black expressive form and an astute cultural analyst.”

9. The Lives They Lived … Remembering Some of the Artists, Innovators and Thinkers We Lost in the Past Year

  • Luke Perry
    • “Learn as much as you can and be as nice to everyone as you can be.”
  • Karl Lagerfeld
    • “Lagerfeld’s greatest invention may have been himself. He was ostentatious without being silly. He dieted madly, but allowed himself 10 to 20 Coca-Colas a day. He seemed genderless before such a thing existed, and yet not at all P.C. (‘The problem with political correctness is that it rapidly becomes very boring,’ he said.) Though he was a voracious reader, he liked to appear superficial. I didn’t know Lagerfeld, but I shared a plane ride with him in 2014, from Paris to Dubai, while writing about a male model in his entourage. ‘Chic plane, chic plane,’ Lagerfeld said upon boarding, and then proceeded to sketch a caricature of Angela Merkel, seemingly for his own amusement. Over a few days, I watched him consume carefully sliced pears and mangoes, each meal overseen by his butler, Frédéric, whom I would catch in the hotel elevator with trays of Lagerfeld’s protein powders. ‘I’m a very improvised person,’ Lagerfeld told me, even as every part of his existence appeared to be choreographed.”
  • Robert Frank
    • “Artists generally would come to regard him as the picture of how to live a creative life in America, trusting yourself, resisting norms, never repeating what made you successful.”
  • Toni Morrison
    • “Once, Toni got it in her mind that she wanted to go to these casinos to play bingo. She rented a limousine, and we went to Connecticut. I don’t remember if she won or not, but she had a wonderful time, because on the way we got to stop at McDonald’s, which she loved. I was never in a car with Toni where, if we passed a McDonald’s, we did not stop.”
  • Doris Day
    • “Always comfortable, in life, with sex in and out of marriage, and claiming never to have loved a man ‘with intensity,’ she allowed herself to become, in her later movies, the embodiment of the battling virgin, staking out an ‘all for love and marriage’ position that first captured a younger audience and then, once that audience came of age, caused them to treat her as a joke.”
  • Harold Bloom
    • “It can be hard to disentangle Bloom’s reality from his own self-mythology, but even his detractors — and he would accumulate a great many — had to acknowledge the raw power of that brain, a combination of bandwidth and storage capacity that was, by any measure, exceptional.”

Comments are closed.