Sunday, October 25, 2009


Before going to prison in 1996, I rarely read The New Yorker. Sometimes I browsed the cartoons or the Talk Of The Town feature when I would find a copy in the doctor or dentist's waiting room, but that was it. But a fellow inmate shared his copies with me, and I got hooked. The main reason was that it took me into a sophisticated, elegant--yes, even elite--world far beyond my incarcerated environment. I could escape into art and theatre and dance and satire and in-depth articles about everything from street food in Bangkok to to what J.P. Morgan was really like as the richest man in the world in the early days of the 20th Century.

Thanks to friends such as Jack Canfield, I soon had my own subscription, and it was the one publication I absorbed from front to back each week. My subscription expired just as I was being paroled, and with no one now picking up the cost, I did not renew it, especially since discovering: What a rich and varied website! The first thing I discovered was the weekly 15 minute podcast in the upper lefthand corner, dissecting the political issues of the past week. Then the cartoons, and even some animated versions of New Yorker cartoons. Then, most of the articles from each week's issues, and a huge archive of articles from past issues. You have to be a subscriber to access a few of the articles, but most are offered on the website free of charge. And then there are all the blogs from the top-notch New Yorker writers and reporters...something not available in the magazine itself.

I'm always finding things I wasn't looking for. Like this amazing panoramic photograph of Beijing, which was featured on one of the blogs without any fanfare or announcement.
Check it out, play with the controls at the bottom. And wouldn't you like to see the same thing done with New York, London, Paris?

If you click on the center window it will disappear so you can see the photo fully. Also, if you just watch and wait, it will spin around a full 360 degrees.

It may or may not happen for you, but I find that I feel smarter regularly reading what this magazine and its website has to offer. And not just in the sense of being more intelligent, but smarter in the sense of that old term, "the smart set," meaning the "in" crowd, those in the know, on the leading edge of what's going on in the culture, in the arts, in politics. The only thing missing on the website is the ads, and these too can take you into a whole other world.

Perusing one issue of The New Yorker, I found ads for custom moccasins, Ansel Adams art portfolios, adventure trips to Galapagos with licensed naturalists, uniquely designed jewelry, grandfather clocks, Vermont maple syrup, a sampler of 15 varieties of Maine potatoes, a cashmere watchcap (just $110...quite a bargain for The New Yorker readers), and a video called Kitty Safari that promises cats will love watching its birds, mice, squirrels and other prey (I suppose pacifists and animal rights groups might object to this). In other words, many items you won't find at Target or Walmart. And it doesn't matter that I've never ordered anything from the dozens of ads in each issue, just knowing that stuff is out there gives me a greater sense of the richness of the outside world.


1 comment:

nathaniel said...

wow what a treasure..the internet is something...If Jesus had the use of the internet we all would be a lot more enlightened