Reading The New York Times (So You Don’t Have To)

October 27, 2010

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Reading The New York Times (So You Don’t Have To)

As I may have mentioned, I have a friend who sends me links to New York Times pieces she thinks I might find interesting. Those occasional snippets aside, I don’t read the Times. Why mess with my digestion at this stage of life?

Last Sunday, however, a friend was giving me a lift from Baltimore to New York. We took a bathroom break at an expressway service stop, and mooching vaguely around the concessions, I thought I’d pick up a newspaper so I could read out amusing excerpts to my driver when conversation flagged.

But conversation did not flag, so I arrived home with a mostly unread copy of October 24th’s Sunday New York Times. It’s been years since I held a whole Times in my hands. Curious, I did some random browsing.

Here is my report. Yes, I have read a copy of The New York Times—so you don’t have to.

• Main news section. “G.O.P. Is Poised to Seize House, If Not Senate.” You don’t say. This is a newspaper? Something about Iraq: “Private Gunmen Fed Turmoil.” To hell with Iraq.

Mexico: “Gunmen burst into a small concrete house in a working-class Ciudad Juárez neighborhood where a family was celebrating a son’s birthday and opened fire, killing 13 people and wounding 20.…A 13-year-old girl was the youngest of the dead.” Coming soon to a Mexicanized U.S. neighborhood near you.

Haiti: “Fears Cholera Cases Will Spread in the Capital.” Hey, we’d better save those people so they can go on producing little Haitians at a total fertility rate of 3.72 (according to the CIA World Factbook) into a land stripped bare of vegetation and with no significant industrial or service sector.

• Week in Review. “In Losing, There May Be Winning”—the 127th article I’ve seen about how a Republican takeover of Congress may be good for Ogabe. Can’t bring self to read another one; and is, that, comma, necessary?

Editorials: A big long one preaching the socialized healthcare gospel, a shorter one railing against multinational corporations. Hey, aren’t you the one-world open-borders people? Nice to see the spirit of Anthony Lewis still lives, anyway.

Op-Eds: Frank Rich on “the obscene income inequality bequeathed by the three-decade rise of the financial industry.” Careful what you wish for, Frank; that’s the only industry we have now. The others all fled to escape the regulators, revenuers, unions, and trial lawyers.

Thomas Friedman on healthcare jobs, which “can be done in a low-skilled way by cheap foreign workers and less-educated Americans, or they can be done by skilled labor that is trained.…” I think we kind of made that decision, Tom. As for your skilled labor that is trained: silk purse, sow’s ear, Tom.

• Book Review. I’m not well disposed to the Book Review. I’ve published four books with respectable publishers, and the Times only reviewed one. Furthermore, I’ve been writing book reviews—sapient, witty, penetrating book reviews—for thirty years, yet the Times has never commissioned one from me. So screw the Book Review.

“Sorry, I can’t separate the pages anymore; they’re all stuck together with estrogen. Have they killed off all the men in Manhattan?”

• Arts & Leisure. Oddly, the A&L section’s front page is dominated by a huge black-and-white photograph showing an asteroid’s cracked, cratered, pockmarked surface. Taken by the Cassini space probe, no doubt….Oh, no, wait a minute; it’s actually a close-up photograph of Keith Richards.

The article covers Keef’s new autobiography, Life. Seems a bit odd to name your autobiography after a magazine, but if you must, I suppose Life is better than The Weekly Standard.

Reporter Janet Maslin struggles to come up with anything new to say about a bloke who’s been on the public scene for nigh on half a century. A musician, too—double tough. Musicians rarely have anything to say and are often totally inarticulate. I’d leap the ice floes across a river in a winter flood to have dinner with Samuel Johnson, Winston Churchill, or Mark Twain; but Mozart? Callas? Hank Williams? Bleh.