The New Yorker: September 23, 2013

25 Sep

OK. This is the big week. The big redesign. I’m going to start with a special redesign review and then do the regular review.

I might have missed some things. My opinions might change over time. I reserve the right to change my mind about anything and everything in this section.

I didn’t notice any change to the main font, although I didn’t look closely. I’ll reserve judgment, I guess. There is a new secondary font. I don’t think I like it. It’s very appealing within the new design. Bold and clean. I think a lot of that is a factor of novelty. Once that wears off, I think it’ll look out of place and I’ll start wishing for it to disappear.

There are places with two columns now. And places with four. Some places with one, even. It makes sense sometimes (Tables for Two, Briefly Noted). Otherwise, it seems like change for its own sake and doesn’t have much of point. This is the kind of lazy “how can we make the magazine look different?” idea that should never have gotten past the brainstorming stage.

Table of Contents*
I don’t like that they did away with the department listings. That’s just as helpful in the TOC as it is in the pages of the magazine. It often gives you a better idea of what a piece is about than the title and brief description. Minus.

*TNY was once famous for not having a TOC at all (see also: The Mail). The things that have changed and the things that have stayed the same over time are pretty remarkable. Go to your local library and scan through the bound archives. It’s a good time, I promise.Especially if you have a particular thing to look for.

The two columns now cover the whole page instead of using the traditional three-column layout and saving one of them for ads. Plus the new font and the contribution in red instead of the contributor’s name. I suppose the new bold font makes the name stand out enough in black. It looks bold and clean I guess. That’s not really what I’m looking for in TNY though. I like displacing the ads from the page. Neutral.

The Mail
Vastly expanded. I never read letters to the editor. What a waste of time. Minus.

Goings On About Town
This is the most noticeably different section. Mostly for the better. Less cluttered, more features/artwork. Also four columns instead of three. Plus.

Talk of the Town
Comment and The Financial Page have two columns now instead of three. I guess the point is to distinguish and highlight them from the rest of Talk. I think that’s a bad idea. The Financial Page already has the box, and if they want to differentiate Comment, they should just make it a separate section. I’d be in favor of scrapping it altogether myself. Minus.

The story title and author are now incorporated into the illustration. This is a great idea. Like a little book cover. Sometimes the illustrations seem arbitrary or a little too on-the-nose. Hopefully this will allow for some more creativity. This is the best change. Plus.

Briefly Noted
Instead of having two standard columns, the blurbs are now a single double-width column, with all four books in line, with thumbnails of their covers. Looks much better this way. Plus.

Regularly Scheduled Programming
This might be brief. I just wrote in excess of 500 whole words about the redesign and I’m getting tired.

I like it. I’m warming a bit to these multiple-panel treatments. This one is cute and the colors are really used well. The smaller drawings are perfect with no coloration, but the blocks give it some pop from distance.

The MOMA/Magritte review was notable for its mention of Super Magritte, which reimagines his paintings as NES pixel art, and wasn’t quite as cool as I had hoped. Still cool though.

The piece about the 2001 soundtrack was the best kind of blurb. I’m not going to go see the NY Philharmonic play the soundtrack live along with the movie, but reading about it gave me a couple interesting nuggets about the movie and the composers involved. Bravo.

The best Talk piece was about An-My Lê taking photos of Coast Guard recruits. Artists interacting with the military bureaucracy is a funny situation.

I should mention here that this is the Style Issue, and all of these are vaguely style-related. Not my favorite theme issue.

Janet Malcolm’s profile of Eileen Fisher seemed very Janet Malcolmy to me. The meta ruminating on interviewing profile subjects and such. Although I haven’t read enough of her stuff to say that with any authority. I should read more. She’s a true heavy hitter.* Heavy enough to have her own Slate Completist feature.** And everyone should read The Journalist and the Murderer.

*Perhaps due to her no doubt excellent undergraduate education at the University of Michigan.

**Kind of depressing to read. Alice Gregory’s subhead is “I’m in awe of her.” So, she feels far below Janet Malcolm. Well I feel very far below Alice Gregory. In truth, I’m not even on the spectrum that those two are on. Speaking of spectrums, if Janet Malcolm is full blown autism and Alice Gregory is Asperger’s syndrome, then I’m the most popular kid from your high school.

Lizzie Widdicombe’s brutal takedown of the guy behind Bleacher Report and Bustle was very fun to read. Christ he sounds terrible. A quote: “You remember what you were wearing three days ago? Just so you know, most guys don’t remember what they’re wearing right now.” Just so you know, most guys aren’t douchebag morons like you.

I spent most of my time while reading Calvin Tomkins’s profile of Black Architect David Adjaye thinking about Chelsea Peretti. I hope for your sake that you know why. She is hilarious. Truly one of the greats.

This was really good. An engaging setup, some nice little details, then the stakes change out of nowhere. But Tessa Hadley still kept the same tone and feel. Didn’t try to do too much in such a short piece. Liked this one a lot.

Pankaj Mishra’s book review had some good stuff about one of those huge chapters of world history that most Americans know nothing about. Nixon and Kissinger sure were shitty people, huh.

I’m kind of amazed at the vitriol and contempt oozing out of every Salinger review I’ve read. Sounds like I can probably skip it. And hey, since I’m a TNY subscriber, I can go read some of his old stories in the archives instead. Good for me.

Two notable style ads in this, the Style Issue. First, Michelle Williams for Louis Vuitton on the inside front cover. Sold. If I’m ever rich and have a girlfriend, I’ll buy her a LV handbag. Does Michelle Williams endorse any other products I can buy? Second is James Franco for Gucci sunglasses on the back cover. I truly do not understand spending hundreds of dollars on sunglasses. There is not an explanation that makes sense to me.

No Edward Steed this week. Boo. The Duchamp thing on page 70 was OK. The caption is really what makes it.

Caption contest entry
“Well, this is certainly a new take on the desert island cartoon.”

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