Reluctant Habits

The Bedbug Bunk: How the New York Times Used Fear and Misinformation to Spread Public Library Hysteria

Posted by in Bedbugs, Libraries, New York Times, potter-michael, saint-louis-catherine

In this independent investigation, we talk with multiple sources and reveal how bedbugs in public libraries aren’t the great threat the New York Times suggests.

Does Andrew Goldman, New York TImes Misogynist, Owe His Career to a Harvey Weinstein Headlock?

Posted by in goldman-andrew, Misogyny, New York Times, weiner-jennifer

How did Andrew Goldman land a job with the New York Times asking misogynistic questions of celebrities? It may have to do with a fateful headlock.

Jennifer Schuessler: “Literary Occupation: Housewife”

Posted by in New York Times, schuessler-jennifer, Sexism, weiner-jennifer

Why does Jennifer Schuessler and The New York Times believe that any women who speaks her mind is engaging in a feud? Or little more than a happy housewife heroine?

Is the New York Times Banning “Tweet” in the Newsroom?

Posted by in Language, New York Times, Twitter

This morning, The Awl‘s Choire Sicha reported that New York Times standards editor Phil Corbett had issued a memo to the newsroom suggesting that “tweet” (that verb used to refer to the act of posting on Twitter) was being actively discouraged within the Gray Lady’s mighty halls. The memo, which announced that “‘tweet’ has not yet achieved the status of standard English” went on to express dismay about “tweet” being used as a noun or verb. How could a word — reflecting a colloquialism, a negologism, or jargon — ever…read more


Why Does Michiko Kakutani Hate Fiction So Much?

Posted by in Book Reviewing, Kakutani, Michiko, New York Times

The New York Times‘s Michiko Kakutani has rightly earned the wrath of fiction authors for her scathing reviews. But until now, nobody has thought to collect some loosely quantifiable data with which to demonstrate just how much Kakutani hates fiction. So here’s a breakdown of Kakutani’s last twenty-seven fiction reviews, written between the period of May 2009 and May 2010. May 11, 2010: Martin Amis’s The Pregnant Widow called “a remarkably tedious new novel.” Verdict? HATED IT (0). Aprl 28, 2010: “Suffice it to say that the fans of Presumed…read more

Pico Iyer: A Critic Calling for the Pissboy

Posted by in iyer-pico, New York Times, Vollmann, William

Calling out Pico Iyer on his anti-intellectualism in the New York Times.

Jonah Lehrer: A Malcolm Gladwell for the Mind

Posted by in depression, gladwell-malcolm, lehrer-jonah, New York Times, Psychiatry, Wallace, David Foster

As the terrible news of Andrew Koenig’s suicide and Michael Blosil leaping to his death, both after long depressive bouts, emerged over the weekend, the New York Times Sunday Magazine had aided and abetted Jonah Lehrer’s continued slide into unhelpful Gladwellian generalizations by publishing his sloppy and insensitive article claiming that depression really isn’t that bad. Lehrer, an alleged bright young thing who found his own tipping point with How We Decide, appears to have cadged nuanced examples from such thoughtful books as Kay Redfield Jamison’s Touched with Fire and…read more

David Pogue and the Gray Lady’s Double Standard

Posted by in Journalistic Ethics, New York Times, pogue-david

In a post on Saturday, the NYTPicker, a website devoted to “the goings-on inside the New York Times,” pointed to the recent firing of Mary Tripsas, who was let go after writing a positive column just after taking an all-expenses paid trip from 3M. The NYTPicker also highlighted Clark Hoyt’s recent column, in which Hoyt reported that the Times had “parted company” with Joshua Robinson after Robinson had “represented himself as as a Times reporter while asking airline magazines for free tickets to cities around the world for an independent…read more

The Impotance [sic] of the Editor

Posted by in Keller, Bill, New York Times

Editor & Publisher has revealed that Kill Beller doesn’t believe editors is necessary. Beller, whom is the Executive Washroom of the New Turk Times, believes that Assendup Stanley, the media critic who got a few things wrong about Walter Disney’s recent death, is “a brilliant critic.” But the future of the public editor has remained “much debated within out walls.” In congress with James Rainey to the Los Angles Time, Beller moaned loudly about some “cocks” being given too much leeway. But most of the Beller comics were not used…read more


Alain de Botton Clarifies the Caleb Crain Response

Posted by in Book Reviewing, de-botton-alain, New York Times, Twitter, Updike, John

(This is the first of an interconnected two part response involving Alain de Botton. In addition to answering my questions, Alain de Botton was very gracious to send along this essay.) In last Sunday’s New York Times Book Review, Caleb Crain reviewed Alain de Botton’s The Pleasures and Sorrows of Work. While regular NYTBR watchers like Levi Asher welcomed the spirited dust-up, even Asher remained suspicious about Crain’s doubtful assertions and dense prose. But on Sunday, de Botton left numerous comments at Crain’s blog, writing, “I will hate you till…read more

The Gray Lady Just Grew a Few More Gray Hairs

Posted by in New York Times

The Daily Show With Jon Stewart Mon – Thurs 11p / 10c End Times Daily Show Full Episodes Political Humor Newt Gingrich Unedited Interview


Yes, The Master Race Does Matter

Posted by in New York Times

For more than a week now, people on both sides of the Atlantic have been wondering whether Susan Boyle is a frumpy, middle-aged cipher or someone who actually possesses some skills outside making sandwiches. Fortunately, we here at the New York Times are happy to intellectualize this extremely troubling issue for you. Our demographic data suggests that you are, in all likelihood, a trim, upper middle-class Caucasian. And while these lowly types are getting into our clubs and newspapers, there is now the suggestion that some of us are shallow….read more

An Alarming Discovery In One of the Dead Tree Outlets

Posted by in New York Times

This afternoon, as I was counting the twenty-two badly oxidized pennies in my piggy bank over the last three months and flipping through a five-dollar newspaper that I had stolen from a Starbucks, I was especially alarmed to find the following article, located on the inside back page of the newspaper’s renowned Sunday magazine. (I have scanned the newspaper article. Click on the image to enlarge.) I am not certain if Ms. Krapp’s article represents an effort to “spice up” the magazine, which I noticed was a mere 54 pages…read more

Regretting the Error

Posted by in New York Times, Updike, John

[UPDATE: Apparently, it's amateur hour at the New York Times. After fixing the above headline, Matt Bucher observed that The Broken Estate was not published in 1966. James Wood was then only a year old. (And, no, the above screenshot wasn't faked. I resized it to fit it into the window.)] [UPDATE 2: More errors in the piece. “More important, the move to a small town seemed to stimulate his memories of Shillington and his creation of its fictional counterpart, Ollington.” It’s Olinger. Also, John Updike was interviewed by the…read more

Time to Reboot My Privilege

Posted by in friedman-thomas, New York Times

I had a bad day last Friday, a day considerably worse than Thomas L. Friedman’s, but it was an all-too-typical day for America. Because, as we all know, my own comforts and needs naturally reflect everything we need to know about America. Mr. Friedman has a ratty moustache. But I have a beard. Which means there are more follical receptors on my face for America to kowtow to my seer-like economic prophecies. My day actually started well, where I was taking the collective virginity of three underage girls in Bathsheba,…read more

The Knopf Times Book Review

Posted by in New York Times, Tanenhaus, Sam

[UPDATE: On the evening of January 21, 2009, I asked Tanenhaus in person about the concerns satirized below, and I was able to get a few answers. I point readers of this post to the direction of my later post, "In Which I Talk with Tanenhaus," where some questions are answered and Tanenhaus's perspective is reported.] It started with Sam Tanenhaus’s ridiculously uncritical review (and fawning video interview) with John Updike. It continued with Tanenhaus’s lips nearly licking Toni Morrison to a needlessly sensual premature death. But this afternoon, Sam…read more

Virginia Heffernan: The Sarah Palin of Journalism

Posted by in Book Reviewing, heffernan-virginia, New York Times, Tanenhaus, Sam, Vowell, Sarah

The review came over the long Thanksgiving weekend, but the 757 words that Virginia Heffernan devoted to savaging Sarah Vowell’s The Wordy Shipmates on Sunday have little to do with Vowell’s book. Heffernan is the kind of reviewer that Coleridge accurately identified as failed talent. The embittered dunce who gave up her punch and passion eons ago, and who now approaches the craft of reviewing like a helper monkey trained to take a coat at a snap, only to deposit this winter wear into a pile of her own excrement….read more

RIP John Leonard

Posted by in leonard-john, New York Times, Obits

If the reviews are read, it is by those who seek a confirmation, either of their own gut reaction to a new sit-com or of a suspicion that you are a jerk. You can no more review TV according to agreed-upon criteria than you can review politics or sports or old girl friends — or compile a mobile history of the infinite. The lout on the next barstool also considers himself an expert; “Seen in this matter,” says Borges, “all our acts are just, bt they are also indifferent. There…read more

NYTBR: Polishing the Rails

Posted by in garner-dwight, New York Times, Tanenhaus, Sam

News emerged over the weekend that Dwight Garner was fleeing the New York Times Book Review for a gig as a daily books critic. With Rachel Donadio leaving the Book Review in the summer and Sam Tanenhaus performing double duty as editor of NYTBR and Week in Review, one wonders just who actually is running the NYTBR these days. Sure, Gregory Cowles was just bumped up to preview editor in September. But with the deputy editor slot open, does this mean Cowles will get two promotions in two months? Or…read more


A Brief Interlude

Posted by in Journalism, New York Film Festival, New York Times

Some brief housekeeping between these longass NYFF reports: I had intended to write a report on Saturday afternoon’s panel, which I believe was called “Holy Shit! The End of Film Criticism is Nigh! It’s the End of the World!” But it appears my work has already been done for me. Details of what went down, not as hysterical as the title implied, can be found over at Mr. Hudson’s place. There are links to reports and even an MP3. Last I checked the thread at Mr. Hudson’s, there was some…read more


Fair is Fair

Posted by in cowles-gregory, Football, New York Times

A few days ago, Gregory Cowles was upbraided on these pages for getting his facts incorrect in relation to a blog post concerning itself with the Franzen/Marcus affair that went down in Harper’s over the past few years. The error was not noted with the Gray Lady’s customary regret, but it was observed respectfully by Mr. Cowles in a supplement to his post at Paper Cuts. Nevertheless, upon seeing Mr. Cowles’s name in this Sunday’s NYTBR attached to a review of David Harris’s The Genius — a book concerning itself…read more


A Special Four-Part Series for New York Times Readers

Posted by in New York Times

The Big Question! R U Really Reading?

Misheard Lyrics — The New York Times Edition

Posted by in Music, New York Times

New York Times Corrections: “Because of an editing error, the TV Watch Column on Wednesday, comparing coverage of Senator Barack Obama’s trip overseas with coverage of Senator John McCain, gave an incorrect title in some copies for a Frankie Valli song used in a video by the McCain campaign to mock reporters’ coverage of Mr. Obama’s trip. The song is ‘Can’t Take My Eyes Off You’ — not ‘Can’t Take My Eyes Off of You.’” One can only imagine the 20-minute conversation that occurred because of this slip-up. A poor…read more


The Shitty and the Pillar

Posted by in New York Times, Solomon, Deborah, Vidal, Gore

From today’s New York Times: What do you think is your own best novel? I don’t answer questions like that. Ever. And you ought not to ask them. Well, it was a great pleasure talking to you. I doubt that. (via Jenny D) [UPDATE: Vidal on Kucinich's impeachment proceedings.]


David Kamp, Blog Snob

Posted by in Book Reviewing, Music, New York Times, Tanenhaus, Sam

Ten years from now, we’ll all be inured to David Kamp. A whole generation will have grown up as his book, The United States of Arugula, has been long forgotten — the remaining copies pulped or perhaps used as oversized skeet shooting pellets, because they couldn’t even sell as remainders. For what imagination can one expect from a hack writer whose grand contributions to letters include The Food Snob’s Dictionary, The Film Snob’s Dictionary, The Rock Snob’s Dictionary, and The Wine Snob’s Dictionary? (One senses a trend. A writer so…read more

NYTBR: Bill Keller Can Do No Wrong

Posted by in Bill Keller, Book Reviewing, Journalistic Ethics, New York Times, Ruth Conniff, Sam Tanenhaus

Just when you think the New York Times Book Review couldn’t get any sleazier, editor Sam Tanenhaus has proven yet again that there isn’t an unctuous pool he won’t dive into. The latest disgrace is Ruth Conniff’s review of Bill Keller’s Tree Shaker. Bill Keller, of course, is the executive editor of the New York Times and Conniff’s review is perhaps the most egregious conflict of interest in the NYTBR‘s entire history. Conniff isn’t critical one whit about Tree Shaker. The review may as well have recycled the book’s press…read more


Dave Itzkoff: The Genre Dunce Who Won’t Stop Dancing

Posted by in Book Reviewing, Dave Itzkoff, Edward Champion, New York Times, Sam Tanenhaus

Dave Itzkoff has been an embarrassment to the New York Times Book Review for some time, imbuing his “Across the Universe” columns with a know-nothing hubris that one expects from an investment banker who considers himself an art expert simply because he’s had his secretary send in a tax-deductible donation to the opera. Never mind that he hasn’t once listened to Verdi. But Itzkoff’s latest piece truly demonstrates that the wretched and rackety well has no bottom limit. Reading Itzkoff is like being paired up with some otiose oaf on…read more


Janet Maslin: Abdicating Her Critical Faculties One Review at a Time

Posted by in Book Reviewing, New York Times

Slushpile has dug up further evidence of Janet Maslin’s critical inadequacies, as evidenced by this review of John Leake’s Entering Hades. Apparently, the fact that Michael Connelly did not give the book a blurb is reason enough to quibble with it. In fact, I’m wondering why Maslin didn’t just throw the book in the fireplace and devote her 900 words to qualities that had nothing to do with the book. What of John Leake’s pronounced fro or the fact that he sits with his arms crossed, but doesn’t appear intense…read more


New Disclaimer from Deborah Solomon

Posted by in New York Times, Solomon, Deborah

The Deborah Solomon interview, recently revealed to be more of an inept collage experiment in which the interviewer is a humorless and badgering solipsist rather than anything close to a respectable journalist, now carry this bold shibboleth: “Interview conducted, condensed and edited by Deborah Solomon.” And if that isn’t enough, Solomon, who appears not to be a fan of the Oxford comma, will also begin adopting the bold moniker “sprezzatura” to stave off any additional criticism that comes from the New York Press or the blogosphere. Rest easy, America! The…read more


Deborah Solomon: Unethical Journalist?

Posted by in New York Times, Solomon, Deborah

A few weeks ago, I talked at length with Matt Elzweig over the phone for a New York Press story about Deborah Solomon. Elzweig had contacted me because I had written critically about her on these pages. Thankfully, Elzweig’s investigations sent him away from my pedantic barbs and into the heart of an interviewer who appears to be breaking the New York Times code of ethics. To add insult to injury, Solomon didn’t even bother to return Elzweig’s calls to clarify the charges.