2/10/2005|||110804022336878633||||||
80 CANDLES

The
New Yorker celebrates its 80th anniversary. As I suspect I'll never receive the summons to produce a one-million word masterpiece for it, there's nothing to stop me pointing out that the best thing ever written about the magazine is Tom Wolfe's wicked essay "Tiny Mummies!" (Recently reprinted in, Hooking Up). William Shawn was at the helm in those days; Wolfe's send-up of his prissy mannerisms is a wonder to behold. "Lost in the Wichy Thickets", the companion piece devoted to the magazine's turgid house-style is every bit as good. Sadly, the criticisms still hold true today.

[UPDATE: That should be "many of the criticisms". Redstate links to some recent Iraq coverage]

I was hoping to find the text of "Mummies!" lying around on the Internet. No luck so far. But this recent American Spectator interview contains some lovely Wolfe-isms. (He's no fan of the Internet, by the way, but then nobody's perfect) :

TAS: Are the tiny mummies these days a liberal media monolith that is cracking up?

TW: I'm not sure it is dying because they are liberal or not. But readership is declining. Younger people are getting their news from the Internet or television. Most people don't read editorial pages. I think I must have been 40 before I even looked at an editorial page. There was a great story at the New York Herald Tribune. One of the most colorful employees they ever had was a guy name Lucius Beebe. He was the pro, he was the guy under fire, great reporter, great writer, fast. So one night something had happened at the very last moment, which exploded the lead editorial, and they had to get somebody to write a new one in 15 minutes. So everyone said, 'Where's Beebe?' So they brought the old pro upstairs with the copy boy right behind him to take the rush copy. Like a pro he turns out that first page in less than a minute and hands it to the copy boy. And one of the copy editors comes in and says, 'What the hell is this, Beebe?' It was the word 'nevertheless' repeated 80 some times. Beebe said, 'Well, that's all your editorials ever say anyways.'


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