New Yorker Christmas Countdown

All I want for Christmas is catch up on my New Yorker reading. You see, the issues arrive every week. Then they stack on my coffee table and stop me from reading anything else.

And I’ve had goals for catching up. The end of September. The end of November. Nothing of the sort happened, but November’s stack was a lot shorter than September’s. Progress was made.

What I’m setting now is a project of catching up, for me and for you. Me, I’ll keep reading. One, two, three issues a week. Whatever’s possible in my Sally Struthers world of magazine subscription. You, you’ll get to hear about issues for 25 days straight. I’ve done that here before, but this time we’ll have focus.

There’s a second stack, next to me now, of issues read but not mentioned here. Page corners are folded down throughout, and those are some of the spots we’ll be hitting. The interesting, the well-put, the whatever amuses me. 25 days, 25 issues.

Let’s begin.

NYer Christmas Countdown, 12/1

November 22, 2004 issue. In the front of the book, there is a blurb for the “Innocence and Insight” art exhibit.

A normal kid’s crayonings please his parents, but the output of a prodigy who grows up to be famous piques the interest of almost everybody. Claire Oliver had the cute idea of pairing a mature work by a recognized artist with a blast from his or her past. At seven, Eric White drew Evel Knievel jumping his motorcycle over cars; now he paints a vast and shimmeringly packed parking lot. Julie Heffernan at eighteen liked the same lapidary designs and rich palette that she does now. Among the other artists are Eric Fischl, Robert Taplin, and Kojo Griffin. Through Dec. 4. (Oliver, 529 W. 20th St. 212-929-5949.)

The same page mentions an auction at Sotheby’s. “Nov. 19-20 at 10 A.M.: The world largest’s bottle of wine — a 2001 Beringer Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon equal to a hundred and seventy-three regular bottles, commissioned by Morton’s steak house — is the star lot in a two-day auction of wine.”

In “Talk of the Town,” a snapshot of reheasals for Cinderella whips a line around artfully. “Two weeks before the show went up, the cast was rehearsing in a large, stage-sized room at the State Theatre, which had chairs along each wall and tables holding the typical accoutrements of performers at work: bottles of water, a plastic bag of apple chunks that were darkening to autumn brown, Starbucks cups, and the orange that travels around the world to all rehearsals and study sessions and school cafeterias and never gets eaten.” Read the rest.

The fiction piece of the article, “My Heart Is a Snake Farm,” is one of place. Florida. The plot doesn’t blow my mind, but it keeps me reading and that is enough. Mid-way through we find a good taste. “Buck had been married four times, and three-quarters of his troubles were still with him.” Google still has the cached version, but who knows for how long.

Two pages later is an ad for Method Products. The bathroom products company lowercases their name, but I won’t. The company’s slogan is “Method, people against dirty.”

At last there is a parenthetical note in Peter Schjeldahl’s praise of the young Raphael, the painter not the turtle, and actually always young because he died young. “(In how many endearing ways can a naked baby disport itself on a mother’s lap? The Renaissance counted them.)”

Schjeldahl is cached, but click now because your time is brief. Magazine issues and the holiday season pass quickly.

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