Wednesday, December 13, 2006

gifts, collecting and other economies

Someone's made us a gift. A gallery of New Yorker writers' portraits on flickr.

I'll skip the obvious about how white, etc the crowd is and, instead, elaborate on how brilliant this photo set is. I think part of it is the homogeneity of the photos. Like they are almost all professional, glossy but in a thoughtful intellectual way. Hence the sober discourse black and white and the forthright, slightly confrontational gazes or poses and . . . I like portraits, as you may have noticed from my own use of images here. A flickr set, this flickr set, highlights the eerie repetitive nature of this particular group of photographic portraits.

But then there is the sort of implied association within the flickr set of The New Yorker with collecting as a time-honored mode of reader-response. People (ie, my parents) collected the issues, until they ran out of room in the closet that held the record player, then they just collected the covers, then they stopped. Then they (not my parents) came out with the archives and we are (somewhat, depending on our sense of what an archive is) relieved of the burden of collecting issues. Now what?

A boy I knew in college made a very carefully composed collection of covers to hang on the wall (the covers were mounted on some sort of backing so he could take this collection from place to place as he moved) and that was a bit too precious for me. At the same time (college) I was living in an apartment with one (1) faux-wood paneled wall and I covered that wall with New Yorker pages, as it seemed cheap (my parents had given up systematically collecting by then but there were always a lot of them piled under the antique sewing machine) and easy and I grew to love the 3 column lay-out and the busy plainness of it. I remember an illustration of curry ingredients and a Tattinger champagne ad (yes, I used all kinds of pages, not just covers) that was a 90s variation on the one I've posted here and probably some Avedon photos and that leads me to a short digression:

When I started this blog I did a lot of searching to make sure, I thought, that there were not already forums for The New Yorker's critical readers. I found very little, but I did find some folks who were disgusted by the magazine's layout. Well, I love it and I always have and I like all the little changes they've made and I think the plain busyness of it and the small font and the general avoidance of lame illustrations (like the ones in The Atlantic) is particularly good. Remember that illustration that went with the Bremmer thing? Awful. But it's an exception that reminds one how good the illustrations and photography in the magazine usually are. Like that excellent insane rodent, just recently.

Yes, it's dated, but compared to the other mainstream magazines next to it on the bookstore shelves, it looks more and more outre every month as the rest of the magazines just look more and more and more like each other and like Wallpaper did ten years ago.

Kevin Hassett, director of economic policy studies at the American Enterprise Institute, wrote a clever (wonders never cease) op-ed in the Washington Post encouraging holiday shoppers to follow the wisest of wise men and give gold. Smart.

Champagne is also a good gift.

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4 Comments:

Blogger andyhorbal said...

Truffles. That's what I want.

5:14 PM  
Blogger zp said...

I'm sure you mean the fungal kind.

9:30 PM  
Anonymous juniper pearl said...

I like all the little changes they've made and I think the plain busyness of it and the small font and the general avoidance of lame illustrations (like the ones in The Atlantic) is particularly good. Remember that illustration that went with the Bremmer thing? Awful. But it's an exception that reminds one how good the illustrations and photography in the magazine usually are.

oh, hear, hear! [eruption of jubilant applause]

1:51 PM  
Blogger zp said...

warm fuzzy feelings for the nyer from zp, applause from jp. it must be the infectious bonhommie of the holiday season.

11:22 AM  

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