Emdashes—Modern Times Between the Lines

The Basics:
About Emdashes | Email us

Before it moved to The New Yorker:
Ask the Librarians

Best of Emdashes: Hit Parade
A Web Comic: The Wavy Rule


Each Friday, the Emdashes summer interns bring us the news from the ultimate Rossosphere: the blogs and podcasts at newyorker.com. Here’s this week’s report.

Adam Shoemaker:

George Packer devoted most of this week’s posts in Interesting Times to Burma, complementing his wonderful article in the latest issue of The New Yorker. He gives us a slideshow of photographs, a list of good charities focusing on the region, and thoughts on being a journalist in that tormented land. He marvels at the Burmese people’s extraordinary bravery in helping him in spite of their legitimate paranoia. “I’ve never been anywhere I liked the people more and the government less,” Packer writes. These posts add a personal dimension to his article, showing us what it is to live in the Dickensian Burma, which one interviewee said “is at least one or two centuries behind the Western world,” and where we might direct our efforts to fight the junta’s repression, a power that has placed the land under a “magic spell that only some external force can break.”

Packer also wonders at NBC’s refusal to spend even a small portion of its Olympics coverage on legitimate criticisms of the Chinese government’s “full-court press against any negative moment marring the coming-out party.” Having just returned from Beijing myself, it’s depressing to hear that America’s experience of the games has differed so little from that of the Chinese, aside from swapping CCTV’s blatant Nationalism for NBC’s all-absorbing patriotism.

Notes on Politics, Mostly: I’ll admit it was a little hard to focus on Hendrik Hertzberg’s lament on Barack Obama’s wasted opportunity at Saddleback Church; the photo he attached to the post was just a little too amazing. It reminds me how little has been made of Obama’s Hawaii years (and the surfing pictures sure to accompany them) and how unfortunate that it is. Hertzberg reports on pastor Rick Warren’s interviews with both Sen. Obama and Sen. John McCain, in which he thinks Obama should have stood taller, and which also illuminate the strange role of evangelical Christianity in this election. Hertzberg also writes about his eager anticipation of a new book. Obama’s Challenge, by Robert Kuttner, he writes, illustrates persuasively that the Illinois senator has a “fighting chance to lead the country into a deep and lasting era of positive change.” Hertzberg only hopes that he can first survive the “Republican onslaught based on crude nationalism, simpleminded militarism, “cultural” xenophobia, fear, and lies.”

Meanwhile over at his blog, Sasha Frere-Jones reports on African hip-hop, his inability to grasp the “beef between Nigeria and Ghana” (shared by this intern), and the joys of Eba, a common Nigerian food that tastes “like a savory version of cookie dough.” This followed on an earlier post in which Frere-Jones considered the attraction of Lil Wayne’s “A Milli,” a song with a beat that is “simple, genuinely odd, and half-empty, ready to be filled with words.” Wayne’s filler includes a boast that he is “tougher than Nigerian hair,” inspiring Frere-Jones’ investigation into African rap responses. He hasn’t found any yet, but I think cookie dough is a pretty good consolation prize.

Over at The New Yorker Out Loud, Matt Dellinger interviews the composer John Adams, who writes about finding his musical voice in this week’s issue of the magazine. Adams’ phone conversation provides more background and personal details about his early days in California in which he wrestled with the profound influence of John Cage’s minimalism and attempted to reconcile his foray into avant-garde composition with his love of Classical music and the enduring power of harmony (a “bugaboo” for modern composers).

Finally, in the Borowitz Report, Andy Borowitz enters the political fray with breaking news about Sen. Joe Biden’s anticipatory 50,000-word acceptance speech for the Democratic Vice Presidential nomination. The three-day oration is apparently a trimmed-down version of the 200,000-word piece the senator hoped to deliver upon accepting the Presidential Nomination in 1988. At that length, I suppose a lack of originality is inevitable.

Sarah Arkebauer:

I dug through the archives of the New Yorker Fiction Podcast and found a gem from March of this year. It’s Jonathan Lethem reading James Thurber’s “The Wood Duck.” The story has a sharp, movie-like quality that makes me wonder why Thurber is often so underappreciated.

Over at The Rest Is Noise, Alex Ross posted just one short item: a link to an article he wrote on Shakespeare at Glimmerglass. I first heard about Glimmerglass from a Nancy Drew book I read as a child, but since then I’ve discovered its cultural offerings to be on a much higher plane. This series should be no exception.

I was happy to see two posts, by Sally Law and Jenna Krajeski, in the “Bookspotting” category at the Book Bench this week. Macy Halford also notes a development in the saga of what will become of Kafka’s papers. Also worth looking at is Ligaya Mishan’s post about the newest City of Literature, which also contains information on honored cities of years past and information on how your city can become a City of Literature as well.

The Cartoon Lounge added installments six and seven to the Sandwich Duel banter. Drew Dernavich also alerted me to a hilarious new web project from the “I Can Has Cheezburger” people. The project is a space for users to upload humorous graphics they create using Microsoft Excel. It almost makes me want to whip out my spreadsheet skills.

Mike Peed at Goings On just posted yesterday with an important finding for anyone who loves tasty, organic street food. I also enjoyed finding out from Ben Greenman what music is on Michael Phelps’s iPod, learning (from Andrea Thompson) about what’s behind the names of New York restaurants and shops, and, via Greenman once
again, putting my mind at ease in the wake of the supposed Bigfoot discovery.

Taylor House:

Dana Goodyear at Postcard From Los Angeles spots a bittersweet missed connection stapled to a telephone pole in North Hollywood. Ed Ruscha’s old open-air studio space in Venice is being paved over and converted to a parking lot. Some say Ruscha’s presence in the city is one of the main reasons for its current popularity.

Mick Stevens visits the infamous Jack Z over at I Really Should Be Drawing. They talk comics over olive-filled martinis and ask the all important question, “When you’re working, which comes first, the drawing or the caption?”

Steve Brodner catalogues his recent trip to Israel in photos and text at Drawger. Little commentary but lots of great visuals. No worries, though, he’s still jabbing at John McCain.

Previous intern roundups: the August 15 report; the August 8 report; the August 1 report; the July 25 report; the July 18 report; the July 11 report.


Nice work, guys!

Post a comment

(If you haven't left a comment here before, it may need to be approved by the site owner before your comment will appear. Thanks for waiting.)

2008 Webby Awards Official Honoree