Sunday Bloody NYT Sunday: Special Ross Douthat Thinks Big Lazy Thoughts Edition
Look, we all know you’re not coming here to read this to get up-to-date details on the Iran nuclear talks deal, even if that is the kind of hard-hitting news we usually specialize in. You’re also not yet coming here to mock Republicans have a temper tantrum about the deal (coughJohnCornyncough) because we’ll probably need a whole post for that. No, you’re coming for us to encourage you to eat the rich, basically, and we’re OK with fomenting class warfare.
Let’s start with something sure to depress you, shall we?
This past week the New York Public Library acquired the papers of Tom Wolfe for the sum of $2.15 million. The material, which fills about 190 boxes and includes correspondence between Mr. Wolfe and his tailor, was paid for largely with a private donation, and while the figure is hardly exorbitant in the realm of cultural philanthropy, which vastly outpaces social-service philanthropy, it represents more than twice the amount of the biggest gift ever made by an individual to the Food Bank for New York City.
We are not even a little bit surprised, but we can still be dismayed. Also, Tom Wolfe keeps his correspondence with his tailor? HIS TAILOR? We’re barely able to keep that slip that allows you to pick up your alterations one week later for that mere one week, much less file them away somewhere for future generations to pick through. In case you’re paying attention, readers from the far future: this particular writer has a 27-inch inseam and shortens most of her pants. Fascifuckinating. Rich correspondence purchasers, as soon as the revolution comes and you’re first up against the wall, we will all burn your expensive Tom Wolfe’s tailor correspondence for warmth.
Also too this week we have the inevitably terrible news of some mega-apartment that has sold for many multiples more than you will probably earn in your entire lifetime.
With just a few full-floor units and the distinctive maisonette remaining at the luxury condominium reinvention of a historic Salvation Army lodging house for women at 18 Gramercy Park South, the sale for $17,300,067.50 of the 4,207-square-foot residence that commands the entire eighth floor was the most expensive of the week, according to city records.
The unit, No. 8, has four bedrooms, five and a half baths, and a corner living room with 40 feet of frontage on private Gramercy Park. The monthly carrying costs are $11,225.31, and as a customary closing gift, the sponsors, Zeckendorf Development and Global Holdings, bestowed a key to the park.
First, how awful is it that this is an old Salvation Army lodging house now being used as palaces for the rich? Really awful, right? Next, we’ll do you the usual service of pointing out that $11,000 is, at least in our neighborhood, an amount more likely to represent a year’s worth of rent rather than a month’s worth of “carrying costs,” which is a thing we do not even know about since we do not live in New York City. Finally, we would hope you get a key to the park for that sort of money. You should probably just get an entire park thrown in, actually.
In case you’re not quite yet feeling like civilization, hell, handbag, consider that Rush Limbaugh’s book for children is number one in the nation on the NYT children’s middle grade list.
The book is a time travel adventure in which a modern Limbaugh-like character and his talking horse, Liberty, end up on the Mayflower. Limbaugh’s radio audience, predictably, loves it. “Your book has just really touched our hearts,” a caller named Jennifer said recently, mentioning a scene in which the Pilgrims credit a miracle for the rescue of a man swept overboard. “I’m just so touched that you’re bringing God so much into this history and reminding people that God has a divine plan and that nothing happens by accident, and I just started crying this morning.”
We just can’t even.
Also on the literary tip, someone let one of the oldz write a column about what how they do not like the word selfie no they do not.
I don’t know. It seems like an embarrassing word to me, on the baby-talk side of talk, and destined for the etymological trash basket that is already brimming with “jeggings,” “man cave,” “chillax,” “locovore,” etc. Actually, it’s “locavore,” for someone who diligently eats local produce, most often kale, but here now I give you “locovore,” for a person who is completely obsessed with being a “locavore.”
BREAKING: Dads and grandpas hate the kids and their hippity-bippity-hop-bop lingo.
Speaking of the oldz and the dads Lemmy from Motorhead is 67 and there’s a delightfully irascible Q&A with him, the highlight of which surely is this:
Q: You once called your father a “nasty little weasel.” Did you ever reconcile with him?
A: No, he died nine years back. We didn’t run through the cornfields to each other in slow motion.
We will be stealing the cornfields crack for future usage, of course.
Not depressing or foolish at all: Ta-Nehisi Coates’ fantastic column about the n-word and the perennial “they can say it why can’t I” nonsense. Anything we’d excerpt would be a disservice to you as you should really go read the whole thing.
Onwards to the columnists! Little Tommy Friedman must be SO MAD that he filed his column this week before the news of the Iran deal was announced, as his column is nothing but blithe blather about what will happen if the deal happens. Friedman imagines the Middle East as some sort of giant sibling rivalry with everyone vying for the United States’ attention, which isn’t weirdly paternalistic and demeaning AT ALL. Friedman also dons his Captain Fucking Obvious hat for this column:
If the United States is to maintain its relationships out here, and ensure that the Iran nuclear agreement doesn’t fuel more instability, the interim and final deals have to be good ones. Sanctions should only be finally removed if we can impose on Iran a rollback of its enriched fuels and enrichment technologies, along with sufficient intrusive inspections, to make an undetectable Iranian breakout to a nuclear bomb impossible.
Gosh, if only Friedman could have been at the table, we could have gotten this deal instead of the one where we dealt away our inspection rights for a fistful of bubblegum. Silly us.
Ross Douthat uses the signature historical event of the week, Kennedy’s death, to remind us that C.S. Lewis and Aldous Huxley also died on the same day. He goes on to wax rapturous about Lewis, duh, but not before he sniffs haughtily about people thinking the Kennedy presidency was important.
It’s too soon to reclaim Nov. 22, 1963, for Huxley and Lewis, and reassign John F. Kennedy to a lower rung of historical significance, where some of us suspect his presidency belongs. But pausing amid this month’s Kennedy-anniversary coverage to remember the two British-born writers offers a useful way to think about the J.F.K. mythos as well.
BREAKING: Some people who are not named Ross Douthat and are not monsters in human form can actually mourn the moment horrific, epoch-changing moment that Kennedy was shot without using it as an opportunity to fucking rank presidents. Asshole.
Douthat links Huxley and Lewis and JFK together in a fashion usually reserved for sophomore English papers written while high the night before they’re due when you’ve only read the back cover of “The Screwtape Letters.” To sum up Douthat: Lewis and Huxley both wrote of how a utilitarian paradise was undesirable because it robbed us of our human wholeness, which is also too like JFK because he was a sinner and Camelot was a political operation and don’t deify Kennedy because he doesn’t deserve it but don’t stop wanting to deify people because that is a good idea as long as you don’t do it to JFK. This is what reading this feels like:
This thing makes last week’s Tommy Friedman book report seem like a masterpiece of analysis.
Blergh. Someone let MoDo write about science and the shrinking – literally, not metaphorically – of the Y chromosome and…you know what? We’re not doing this. After the Douthat fiasco, we deserve a break and so do you, so no need to think more about what Maureen Dowd thinks about science. You could just as easily ask your dog about it and get a more astute answer, so maybe just go do that instead.