The New Yorker Magazine

imageRecently, I had a chance to read this magazine.  It’s incredible.

First, take this letter to the editor:


I don’t know why I liked it so much, but somehow it did my heart good to picture  right-minded citizen Alison J. Bell in Stowe, Vermont taking the time to share her views in clear, even New Yorker-y style.

Then, how about this, in the profile of Lydia Davis:

Michael Silverblatt, the erudite host of the Los Angeles radio show “Bookworm,” says “Literary people know that at the sentence level and the word level she’s the best there is.”

At the WORD level!  Imagine that!  Does that mean she’s the best writer there is at picking words?

Anyway: then there’s the piece about Adam Lanza.

How about this, from the profile of Darren Aronofsky:

Nolte arrived at the studio in Santa Monica only fifteen minutes late  He came in slowly, a heavy man now, at seventy-three, his blue oxford shirt billowing over his pants like a caftan.  Aronofsky introduced himself and explained Nolte’s first scene, when the Watchers discuss what to do with Noah and his family in the pit, and an embittered Samyaza declares, “Leave him there to rot.”

“I know that pain,” Nolte said, “because the Watchers have got no purpose – and I understand that.”  After rumbling through some vocal exercises, he exploded into character, becoming a roaring bull elephant.  Then he tweaked his delivery to add every nuance that Aronofsky proposed: mor disgust, a heightened formality, a disenchantment with mankind.

Aronofsky raced into the control room and cried, “How fucking talented is that guy?  God damn!  He’s giving us character and emotion, which is what was missing.  I might have to write a movie for him.  Oh, it’s a shame – he’s had more work than Mickey, but he hasn’t done enough.  It’s so heartbreaking.”

After a rest, Nolte told an involved story about a small role he had in “Run All Night,” a forthcoming film starring Liam Neeson.  “Wow,” Aronofsky said, when the story appeared to be over.  “So who’s the director?”

“No idea,” Nolte said.

When the story appeared to be over.

(The director is Jaume Collet-Serra, I looked it up).

My one problem with this issue of the New Yorker, and it’s a big one, is this: profiler Tad Friend has been trying hard to get Aronofsky to take him to Coney Island, where he grew up.  At last he does:

In the summers, Aronofsky spent much of his time on Coney Island’s Cyclone, the rackety wooden roller coaster built in 1927.  He led me to it, then cried “Bawk, bawk” when I declined to go aboard.  “Everything about myself as a filmmaker is only understandable by going on the Cyclone,” he said.


(editor’s note: for the next two months we’ll be away from HelyTimes headquarters.  As a result, formatting on HelyTimes may suffer, as it’s a pain in the bun to format on an iPad.  Please bear with us.)

“When you meet the hero, you sure know it”

From a New Yorker profile of Harold Ramis:

One afternoon, Ramis and I had lunch at a tavern near his office. He began talking about another star of his early films, Chevy Chase. “Do you know the concept of proprioception, of how you know where you are and where you’re oriented?” he asked. “Chevy lost his sense of proprioception, lost touch with what he was projecting to people. It’s strange, but you couldn’t write Chevy as a character in a novel, because his whole attitude is just superiority: ‘I’m Chevy Chase, and you’re not.’ ”

Ramis said that he identified with Nathan Zuckerman, the alter ego in many of Philip Roth’s novels: “Watching other people having experiences I’m not going to have. But understanding, empathizing. Much as I want to be a protagonist, it doesn’t happen, somehow. I’m missing some tragic element or some charisma, or something. Weight. Investment.”

After a moment, he continued, “One of my favorite Bill Murray stories is one about when he went to Bali. I’d spent three weeks there, mostly in the south, where the tourists are. But Bill rode a motorcycle into the interior until the sun went down and got totally lost. He goes into a village store, where they are very surprised to see an American tourist, and starts talking to them in English, going ‘Wow! Nice hat! Hey, gimme that hat!’ ” Ramis’s eyes were lighting up. “And he took the guy’s hat and started imitating people, entertaining. Word gets around this hamlet that there’s some crazy guy at the grocery, and he ended up doing a dumb show with the whole village sitting around laughing as he grabbed the women and tickled the kids. No worry about getting back to a hotel, no need for language, just his presence, and his charisma, and his courage. When you meet the hero, you sure know it.”

He smiled. “Bill loves to get lost, to throw the map out the window and drive till you have no idea where you are, just to experience something new.” And you? “Oh, I’d be the one with the map. I’m the map guy. I’m the one saying to Bill, ‘You know, we should get back now. They’re going to be looking for us.’ ”

– from “Comedy First: How Harold Ramis’ Movies Have Stayed Funny For Twenty-Five Years” by Tad Friend, The New Yorker, April 19, 2004.

(pictures from billmurray.tumblr)