Each week, the Sunday Post highlights a few articles we enjoyed this week, good for consumption over a cup of coffee (or tea, if that's your pleasure). Settle in for a while; we saved you a seat. You can also look through the archives.
Robert Messenger, two-time editor at the one-time Weekly Standard, with an essay that is “about something other than the ostensible subject.” The pain and pleasure of deadlines at dailies, weeklies and monthlies; the difficult transformation of the media industry; and, especially, the loss of a lifetime’s profession. Serious but not self-pitying, wry, and interesting enough if you’re a sucker for how-things-work to justify yet another article on the “death” of publishing.
The miracle is not that newspapers are any good; it is that they come out at all. One of the city’s greatest critics once told me that the best advice he got in two decades at the New York Times was when he proposed a new arts column. “Do you know what a newspaper feature is?” an old-timer asked him: “It’s a hole you have to fill with sand every goddamn day”. Not bad as a description of the whole business. It wears you down.
I need to warn you that this is long, because I think that, like me, you’ll have trouble stopping once you start. Steve Salaita was a professor for two decades; then, abruptly, after a series of Israel-critical tweets, he was not. Here, he writes about choosing to leave the life of the public intellectual, the economic threads that complicate “free speech” in our academic institutions, and the semiotics of the school bus.
The job induces primal expressions of love. School buses supersede their physical structure; they anchor a huge apparatus designed to guard the vulnerable. The machine is outfitted with lights and blinkers calculated to announce its presence. It is excessive on purpose. Nothing is more important than its cargo. SUVs, bicycles, eighteen-wheelers, ambulances, fire trucks — all abdicate their right of way when the stop sign and crossbar swing into the roadway. The school bus is one of the few institutions in the United States that protects the powerless from the depredations of commerce.
Tove Jansson is so very good at delivering the gracious and the ridiculous side-by-side — giving neither the upper hand, maintaining the perfect balance of sharp and sweet. Here she sits in a park in Paris, writing about being unable to write, which should be the most tedious subject possible. In her voice, it is the opposite.
I can’t understand why I must drag the ocean into everything I write. Furthermore, it’s so fucking hard to go on with something that was so wonderfully simple and I should know this well.