New Yorker Paywall Vacay Post

August 4th, 2014 · 4 Comments · By

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Hey all,

I know this isn’t super obviously Charlottesville-centric (although you might be surprised), the New Yorker has deactivated their paywall for three months to lure people into their redesigned Previously, most of their magazine content was in a embedded reader meant to preserve the experience of holding the paper copy. Unfortunately, this wasn’t great (except to grab great PDF versions of articles you would then send out for free to all your friends).

The transition seems a bit rocky at points (some links from Google give you a dead-end when you click-through), but I hope this works out for them. I personally really enjoy The New Yorker, and under David Remnick they’ve done some incredible foreign policy writing.

Sites like Longform and Slate have put up their favorite articles since 2007 (the end-date for the paywall breach). Here are some I think are really great and I’ve enjoyed over the years. (and the above image is my favorite New Yorker cartoon of all time)

I’ve put Charlottesville-related content first, then just generally good articles after that.

First and foremost, Emma Rathbone‘s entire New Yorker oeuvre:

“A Page From My ‘Top Gun’ Fan Fiction”, “A Few Things I’d Like to Convey with my Funky Lizard Brooch”, “New Year’s Resolutions for an Anteater”, “Nineteen-Eighties Russian Pen Pal”, “Daily Affirmations for an Owl”, “My Wedding Hair”, “Haunted House Sitting”

Emma is a Charlottesville resident, UVA MFA grad, and all-around super fun person. See my Nailgun interview with her here.


“Extreme Makeover” Dahlia Lithwick is a contributing editor at Newsweek and senior editor at Slate. She also lives in Charlottesville! In “Extreme Makeover,” she digs behind the main historical narrative of the Lawrence v. Texas case that determined anti-sodomy laws (concerning same sex sexual activity) unconstitutional. Really great.


“Where’s Chang?” It’s hard to discern whether this profile fed the flames of publicity for Peter Chang, or merely reported on something lurking right below the surface. Calvin Trillin reports on Chang while he was at Taste of China up on 29–a gig he, true to form, shortly departed after the article came out. Peter Chang has come into his own a bit more, opening at least two restaurants (one being Peter Chang’s China Grill in Barracks Road) and staying put a bit longer than usual. Bonus points as the article obliquely mentions Thai Siam in Nelson County, a great Thai place if you haven’t tried it.


“The Pretender” This profile of Will Oldham by Kelefa Sanneh is a great portrait study. Done in 2009, Sanneh calls Oldham “one of the country’s most celebrated singer-songwriters,” a statement that can definitely be debated but was printed nonetheless. Oldham has links in Charlottesville–I saw a great show with him at Fry Spring’s Beach Club and his brother Ned Oldham lives here, performing sometimes as Old Calf with Matty Metcalf.


“A Murder Foretold” I put out an APB for recommendations on this collection, and Jordan Taylor and I agreed this should definitely be on the list. I can say very little except you should read it. Like David Simon in a house of mirrors. Really great.


“Basta Bunga Bunga” Ariel Levy is such a powerful cultural writer and I loved this profile of Berlusconi, during his prostitution trial (which he survived). This piece has a great blend of first-person narration (Levy’s default voice) with an empathetic survey of the historical and cultural landscape that allowed Berlusconi to stay in power despite criminal and morally loathe behavior. Interestingly, this piece was published June 2011 and Berlusconi would resign in November 2011, but in an orchestrated ouster precipitated by the dismal state of Italian debt load rather than his behavior.


“Eight Days” The New Yorker did some incredible financial and fiscal reporting in the aftermath of the 2008 financial bubble/bailout. I have recommended this piece by James. B. Stewart many times to people attempting to understand the state of finance in America. The reporting is absolutely incredible (Caro-like detail) and shows the dynamics at play, mainly how New York bankers totally made fun of Tim Geitner (then head of New York Federal Reserve) behind his back.


“Outsmarted” Another great piece of financial writing, in the review of (and piggy-backing on) Gillian Tett’s Fool’s Gold (Free Press, 2009). This piece is about the innocuous and mild-mannered development of a now-infamous financial instrument: the credit default swap.


“What’s Wrong With Me?” Meghan O’Rourke was the poetry editor at Paris Review, publishing her collection Halflife in 2007. I really loved the poem “Halflife” (which I thought was originally published in the New Yorker but couldn’t confirm that) and it was obvious she was having her moment of literary fame. I was confused, then, when she practically disappeared from public life. This “Personal History” piece, published last fall, cleared up that confusion. In it, she writes eloquently about the absolute hell of living with an autoimmune disease and how it shatters everything around you.


“Wiggle Room” This issue was a particularly poignant one: David Foster Wallace had killed himself that Fall of 2008, this fiction piece ran in Spring 2009 and was assumed to be from the unfinished manuscript mentioned in his obituary. For me, it was a return to his Interviews with Hideous Men style–the hours and years of excruciating self- and societal-analysis distilled into fraught sentences. The textual equivalent of a silent scream. His maximalist style of Infinite Jest always felt like a hiding away from that raw emotion, so present in this piece.


“Crosstown Bus” One of my favorite Talk of the Town pieces ever. Captures really well the cultural estuary moment where many young people plugged into iPods, retreating away from anything unfamiliar, and other (typically older or native New Yorker) people enjoyed the engagement of life out in streets and public transit.


“Double or Nothing” I was still living as a teenage in Lynchburg, but drawn to dance and music for dance, when this came out. The idea of a legend like Merce Cunningham teaming up with Sigur Ros and Radiohead was so exciting in my mind. The next year I purchased Sigur Ros’ EP Ba Ba Ti Ki Di Do based on their performance with the Merce Cunningham troupe. The picture accompanying this article was equally memorable:


What characters!


“Deadhead” Nick Paumgarten always struck me as an astute, cultured dude, so to see someone “out” themselves as a Dead fan (a Dead taper fan no less!) was so funny. He captures the neuroses of this culture in such a fantastic way (particularly the scene in which he realizes the subjective quality of enjoying certain tapes–“…being a freak for the Fox was a lonely business.”)


“Travels in Siberia” (Part I) (Part II) I’m including Ian Frazier’s huge piece on traveling across Siberia (“the ultimate road trip”) not only because of his writerly attention to detail and not because Siberia is so unknown (yet comprises so much of the continent), but because it was so long. It was serialized! In 2009! I love that. We read about Dickens or Dumas issuing their books in serial format, this was a memorable time I’d seen something published in serialized format not out of nostalgia, but because they wanted to print it but couldn’t do it in one go. Might seem silly to find that intriguing, but, hey, I’m a silly dude.


Add any of your favorites in the comments ppuhhleeeezzzeeeeeeee

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4 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Nick // Aug 5, 2014 at 9:57 am

    Booth is my favorite New Yorker cartoonist. Never saw one with narration before. I like the one that appeared after Brokeback hit theaters: two really old cowboys sitting on a porch in a vast western landscape; one bursts out “Were we gay?”

    I would have nominated the Paumgarten article – LOVE IT. Instead, I’m going to say: anything by Junot Diaz. Vibrant, hilarious – everyone out there probably knows his stuff, but just in case. Also, the Shulamith Firestone portrait by Susan Faludi – I’m not a student of second-wave feminism so this was my introduction to this uncompromising, brilliant, tragic figure.

  • 2 coogan // Aug 5, 2014 at 4:44 pm

    the firestone portrait is such an incredibly moving piece.

  • 3 Owen // Aug 7, 2014 at 12:24 pm

    Great post! Hours of diversion. Love that Will Oldham profile. In Sanneh’s defense, the whole well-wrought sentence is:

    Oldham must be one of the country’s most celebrated singer-songwriters, and if it’s a relatively small number of people doing the celebrating—well, that just shows how hard they’ve been working.

    One of my faves is the profile of Lucinda Williams from 2000:

    Did you know “The Way You Move” is about masturbation? I did not.

  • 4 Owen // Aug 7, 2014 at 3:31 pm

    Whoops, I meant “Right in Time.”