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We’re sitting at the Best Buns Bread Company in the Village at Shirlington, a sort of prefab town square in Arlington, Virginia, designed to be quaint and homey. The streets are fresh red brick. The lampposts are faux antique. The trees are evenly spaced. A color-coded map explains the area’s layout, like a mall. The neighborhood’s culinary diversity—Aladdin’s Eatery abuts Bonsai Restaurant abuts Guapo’s—is matched only by its patrons’ ethnic lack thereof. We are sipping coffees and munching on identical Ginger Crinkle cookies, when it occurs to me: I am in a David Brooks book. We are Bobos. This is Paradise. –“A Reasonable Man,” Christopher Beam, New York
How did you think up the design? How do you know what a vampire penis is supposed to look like?
Well, it was a pretty fun act of the imagination. The color was the biggest thing. It had to look like vampire skin. It took me and the head of production two and a half months to get the color we were looking for. She has 10 other ones that are various shades that didn’t work. Way too pink, way too pale, it took a long time to make a pale flesh tone. The other problem was the sparkle: It had to sparkle in the sunlight. If it didn’t sparkle in the sunlight, the whole idea was dead. –“Meet the ‘Twilight” dildo designer,” Margaret Eby, Salon
Terrell didn’t make the comparison, but he, like others in journalism, especially editors and publishers, seems to regard reporting as analogous to playing professional sports. After the first few years, achievement in reporting is widely viewed more as a function of energy than of experience. The middle-aged reporter is looked upon as a Jimmy Connors or Pete Rose, waging a futile battle to keep hitting the ball the way he did when he was in his prime. The reporter is supposed to retire gracefully before somebody has to be dispatched to escort him to the showers. –“Why I would rather report–at fifty–than edit at any age,” Chris Welles, Columbia Journalism Review
More from Rafe Bartholomew:
I recently spent a semester teaching writing at an elite liberal-arts college. At strategic points around the campus, in shades of yellow and green, banners displayed the following pair of texts. The first was attributed to the college’s founder, which dates it to the 1920s. The second was extracted from the latest version of the institution’s mission statement:
The paramount obligation of a college is to develop in its students the ability to think clearly and independently, and the ability to live confidently, courageously, and hopefully.
Let us take a moment to compare these texts. The first thing to observe about the older one is that it is a sentence. It expresses an idea by placing concepts in relation to one another within the kind of structure that we call a syntax. It is, moreover, highly wrought: a parallel structure underscored by repetition, five adverbs balanced two against three.
Percentage of Britons who cannot name the city that provides the setting for the musical Chicago:
An Australian entrepreneur was selling oysters raised in tanks laced with Viagra.
A naked man believed to be under the influence of LSD rammed his pickup truck into two police cars.
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“Shelby is waiting for something. He himself does not know what it is. When it comes he will either go back into the world from which he came, or sink out of sight in the morass of alcoholism or despair that has engulfed other vagrants.”