Emdashes—Modern Times Between the Lines

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Martin Schneider writes:

Seeing Larry David and the cast members of his show Curb Your Enthusiasm (Susie Essman, Cheryl Hines, and Jeff Garlin) as well as a sneak preview of the first episode of Season 8 (it airs on HBO this Sunday) at 92Y of all possible places felt a bit like seeing— the mind gropes for comparisons. The Pope in Rome? Prince in Paisley Park? Oprah in Oprahland?

In other words, the adoration from the audience was total. Indeed, the whole thing was even better because (no spoilers) the episode has a lot to do with Judaism, and this highly Jewish audience (I didn't say "self-loathing") lustily ate it up.

The surprise MC was Brian Williams, and he couldn't have been more perfect or more mock-awkward. His first words were, "Welcome to 'Let's Find a Catholic to Moderate This Event,'" (continued)

Martin Schneider writes:

When 92Y has a good event, it's a doozy.

On Monday night Shirley MacLaine consented to be interviewed by WNYC's own Leonard Lopate (an unexpected surprise—I hadn't read the event preview carefully enough). I say "consented," but the truth is, MacLaine's casino-style show (she mentioned Atlantic City) apparently is mostly an evening of stories and audience Q&A too, and the woman is so ridiculously appealing and entertaining, she could certainly make a living doing just that and not being an incredibly good actress—which she still is, at 76. Also, she appears to cherish being the center of attention and twitting foils like Leonard Lopate for fun.

I could give an account of the event but it was mainly just MacLaine being very charming and telling stories that occasionally involved conversations with people like Nehru (!).

A few highlights: Early during the filming of The Trouble with Harry, her first movie, Alfred Hitchcock walked up to (continued)

Martin Schneider writes:

Last Sunday 92Y perpetrated a switcheroo. Longtime TV analyst Jeff Greenfield has hosted a recurring series of interviews at 92Y for (if I heard the intro right) something like 30 years, a forum he has used to interview people like Newt Gingrich and presumably also people whose opinion is worth a damn. (Although, to be fair, Greenfield referred to that interview in a way that made it sound worth watching.)

At the moment Greenfield has a new book to flog, Then Everything Changed, an entertaining exercise in alternate history from the sound of it. So for this one night, Greenfield was the (continued)

Martin Schneider writes:

A rash assertion: Ira Glass and Michael Lewis are the two best people in the world at discussing the recent financial collapse in front of a lay audience.

Glass is host and producer of This American Life and works often with (and helped found) the "Planet Money" podcast. Lewis's first book, Liar's Poker, was about the bond market and Salomon Brothers, and his most recent bestseller, The Big Short, is about the dysfunctional real estate market of the George W. Bush years. These men have both spent countless hours figuring out just the right way to express to regular, informed non-experts what went so catastrophically wrong on Wall Street a few years back.

On February 3 they appeared together at 92Y.

The event was not boring. Actually, it was fairly riveting.

Glass was interviewing Lewis on this night, and he assumed the role of the people's staunch advocate. He frequently (continued)

Martin Schneider writes:

This week in events, we have a conversation, a lecture, and a play.

The Conversation. The Rubin Museum of Art in Chelsea, dedicated to the art of the Himalayas, hosted a weekly series called "Talks on Nothing"; it started last October. By a stroke of luck, I happened to catch the very last one (there were 26 events in all) this past Saturday evening. The series has attracted luminaries of all sorts to the sedate stage of the Rubin, and the one I happened to see featured Raj Patel, a young economist of renown, and Peter Sellars, a less young stage and opera director of renown. Patel has recently written a book called (continued)

Martin Schneider writes:

Look to this space every Wednesday for my thoughts on politics and/or events. Early 2011 is a relatively unengaging time for a diehard Democrat, what with the White House occupied by one of our own and recent Republican victories, but that will change in the near future. So I'll be writing more about events for the time being, I suspect.

By events I mainly mean plays, author events, rock concerts, and standup comedy gigs.

January has been busy. I saw an absolutely spectacular production of Craig Wright's play Mistakes Were Made at the Barrow Street Theater. The flabbergastingly good Michael Shannon, familiar from Revolutionary Road and Boardwalk Empire and a longtime favorite of mine, gives one (continued)

Martin Schneider writes:

The Colbert Report, always eager to seize on a smaller story it can imprint itself on, last night dedicated the entire episode to Steve Martin and the art world.

Colbert delivered a report on the 92Y affair that was close to the original reporting of events, which is to say a bit hard on the audience purportedly demanding to hear Martin discuss his movies, a characterization I have already debunked. Colbert also included footage of a Fox News report I had not seen before, in which the 92Y audience is described as "irate" (again, certainly not true).

Colbert's account, while inaccurate and unfair, was certainly very funny and about what one would expect the show to do—that's (continued)

Martin Schneider writes:

I've gotten a couple of requests to provide sources for the ongoing Steve Martin/92Y saga, which will be stale in a week—but useful today!

The New York Times story that started the ball rolling (Felicia R. Lee)

Steve Martin's first Twitter post on 92Y

Overwrought NPR blog post (Linda Holmes)

Useful and informative MetaFilter thread

Steve Martin Op-Ed, New York Times

Steve Martin appearance on Later on Sunday Morning, CBS

Other coverage: (continued)

Martin Schneider writes:

Saturday's edition of the New York Times included an op-ed piece by Steve Martin ("The Art of Interruption") in which he addressed his attention-getting appearance at 92Y last Monday. (See my earlier posts on this event here and here.)

Additionally, the CBS morning program Sunday Morning featured an interview conducted by Rita Braver in which Steve Martin discussed the event.

For what it's worth, Martin's thoughts on this seem pretty reasonable to me. More to come in a future post. (continued)

Martin Schneider writes:

Two days ago I posted an account of the inadequate 92Y event of November 29 featuring Steve Martin and Deborah Solomon. Since then, the event has astonishingly spun off into a counter-narrative in which Martin and Solomon are the good guys and 92Y and the 92Y audience the villains.

The premise of this counter-narrative is that Solomon and Martin were off having a high-minded discussion about art, but the 92Y audience, and the 92Y itself, would not be appeased until Solomon prodded Martin into spinning some anecdotes about the filming of The Jerk or It's Complicated.

This counter-narrative is absurd, incorrect, and pernicious. I was there, and in the words to follow, I intend to set the record straight.

Three things happened to bring about (continued)

Martin Schneider writes:

It was a curious scene Monday night at 92Y. Steve Martin and Deborah Solomon, who is responsible for the "Questions For" feature in The New York Times Magazine, were slated to entertain a mostly filled Kaufmann Concert Hall (and, via simulcast, many other viewers at synagogues around the country) with an hour or so of lively chat.

It took only a few minutes for Solomon to alienate the audience thoroughly.

Solomon's strategy was to treat the event like a book report, covering, almost chapter by chapter, Martin's new novel about the art world, An Object of Beauty. As Martin pointed out, it was wise to assume that the (continued)

Martin Schneider writes:

On Monday, November 15, one of the season's most anticipated literary events will take place at 92nd Street Y. Jonathan Franzen, author of The Corrections and Freedom, and Lorrie Moore, author of A Gate at the Stairs and several other widely adored novels and story collections, appear together for a reading of their most recent works.

The event is at 8pm. Not surprisingly, spacious Kaufmann Concert Hall is already sold out. However, fans of Franzen and Moore can watch the proceedings live on the Internet by clicking on the above link.

I am fortunate to have a ticket—expect a report from me after the event.


Martin Schneider writes:

I'm back in New York after a few months in Cleveland, Ohio (which I vastly enjoyed); one of the consolations of my return to the East Coast is the ability to visit New York's indomitable cultural center, 92nd Street Y.

On Sunday, November 7, I went to see Calvin Trillin and Adam Gopnik discuss "The Writing Life" in Buttenwieser Hall on the second floor. The two writers, both closely associated with The New Yorker, opted (for the most part) to jettison the given theme and trade anecdotes about Manhattan and their shared Jewish heritage, which was fine by me.

Though they were billed as equals, Gopnik subtly played moderator to Trillin's guest, giving Trillin a chance to spin some entertaining yarns—and intermittently to return the (continued)

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