Tag Archives: New York Times Magazine

This Week’s Best Profile – Norris Church Mailer

Norman Mailer had many wives. Six, to be exact. Norris Church Mailer was the sixth. The last:

When Norris discovered the scope of Mailer’s infidelities, she was struck by how many of the women were either his age — he was near 70 then — or significantly overweight. “He made the remark, ‘Sometimes I want to be the attractive one.’ I think he felt if it wasn’t somebody young and beautiful, he wasn’t betraying me as much. He just couldn’t resist someone who told him what a great man he was and what a great writer he was. Every time he fell for it. After I found out, I kept saying to him, ‘Why didn’t I know?’ And he said, ‘It’s not hard to fool somebody who loves you and trusts you.’ ”

That’s rather devastating. She nodded. “You don’t ever love and trust them the same way again. But by that time, I had been around town long enough to know the guys who were available, and I thought: Is there somebody else I want to make a life with? Is there someone else I want to be the father of my children? I couldn’t think of one single person. If I had, maybe I would have taken that step.”

More, from the NY Times magazine, here.

(Nod to Eric N)

This Week’s Best Profile

A bit frazzled over here this week, so we’ll quickly leave you with this David Simon profile in the NY Times magazine. If you haven’t seen The Wire, forget subscribing to HBO, put the money toward a Netflix subscription, and burn through the DVDs. By then, Treme will be out too:

Simon remembers many network notes when writing for “Homicide.” “The notes felt like they were not serving the best possible story,” Simon explained. “Jimmy Yoshimura — Eric worked as supervising producer with him, and I was a junior producer under them — Yosh used to do this notes meeting, call me in and say, ‘Come on, let’s do the antler dance.’ And I said, ‘What’s the antler dance?’ And I swear to God, he would put his phone on the floor, on speakerphone, so you’d hear the voice of the network exec. And with his voice, Jim would approximate a reasonable, ‘Well, that’s a very good note, but if we do that. . . .’ But his body language would begin with his hands up above his head as if he were wearing antlers, like some sort of drum circle, and he would dance around the phone, gesturing obscenely to it, do a little more dancing, but all the while he would be saying, ‘Oh, no, that’s a really good note, we’ll have to consider that. Let me talk to Tom [Fontana], because I think we’re going to do something in another episode.’ Meanwhile, he’d pull down his zipper and stick his thumb through it, and if the guy kept persisting on a note and he couldn’t talk him out of it, Yosh would get down on the floor, close to the speakerphone and. . . .”

Yoshimura claims that there are limits to Simon’s recall. “No, no, no, that was David!” Simon offered the following rebuttal via e-mail: “I will own the origin of this particular gesture if that is Jim’s memory, but in the event that he is trying now these many years later to whitewash his authorship of the sacred ritual of the network-note antler dance, I can only quote ‘The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance’ and John Wayne’s remark to Jimmy Stewart: ‘Think back, pilgrim.’ ”


I didn’t know this yesterday

You can use the New York Times Magazine to design doll clothing.


This New York Times Magazine article on possible euthanasia at a New Orleans hospital during Hurricane Katrina has gotten a lot of attention, mostly for the fact that it cost $400,000 (or so) to produce. And, hey, that’s a lot of money! Maybe people will understand why they should pay journalists (or, perhaps rationally, that articles like this just aren’t worth paying for).

But amidst all the inter-media chatter is a pretty compelling narrative. It was fairly clear, to me at least, where the author stands. But I found myself going back and forth on where I stood on the issue (and, ultimately, disagreeing with the reporter):

As they worked their way down the seventh-floor hallway, Johnson held some of the patients’ hands and said a prayer as Pou or a Memorial nurse gave injections. Wilda McManus, whose daughter Angela had tried in vain to rescind her mother’s D.N.R. order, had a serious blood infection. (Earlier, Angela was ordered to leave her mother and go downstairs to evacuate.) “I am going to give you something to make you feel better,” Pou told Wilda, according to Johnson.

Johnson took one of the Memorial nurses into Room 7305. “This is Ms. Hutzler,” Johnson said, touching the woman’s hand and saying a “little prayer.” Johnson tried not to look down at what the nurse was doing, but she saw the nurse inject Hutzler’s roommate, Rose Savoie, a 90-year-old woman with acute bronchitis and a history of kidney problems. A LifeCare nurse later told investigators that both women were alert and stable as of late that morning. “That burns,” Savoie murmured.

If you’re up for some hard thinking about life, death, euthanasia, and medical ethics, give it a read.

This Week’s Best Profile

Back to the archive for this week’s best profile, just as college football teams start practicing in pads. Michael Lewis, pre-financial meltdown, gives us the ins-and-outs of Mike Leach’s crazy Texas Tech offense. Oh, Mike Leach is kind of crazy too:

As he allowed himself to be escorted toward the locker room, there were many things Mike Leach might have been thinking about. His team was now 8-1 – the best start in nearly 30 years for a Texas Tech football team. They had just beaten Texas A.&M. by the largest margin in the 80-year-old history of the rivalry. He knew he was not going to sleep anytime soon – he keeps the hours of a vampire and wouldn’t go to bed until 6:30 a.m. – and so he might have even been thinking about reviewing game tape, which he usually does while others sleep.Then he spotted a giant grasshopper on the turf. It twitched on the very spot where, two days earlier, he picked up his third-string halfback’s tooth after it had been knocked out by his second-string defensive tackle. He gazed upon the grasshopper in wonder. He wondered, specifically, how far a giant grasshopper could hop, were he to put his foot to its rear. It was on the 20-yard line; he thought maybe it might make it to the 30.

Finally he looked up from the grasshopper. And, as if for the first time, he noticed that he wasn’t exactly alone. The stands were thick with fans. Twenty thousand Red Raiders were chanting his name.

Coach! Leach! Coach! Leach!

Read more, here.

This Week’s Best Profile

Here’s your profile of the week, of Marvin Powell and his family collapsing along with the Detroit auto industry. I get the feeling there are many more legitimate tales of woe to be told that are getting hidden by tales of woe at Spago:

Powell wakes up every morning at 4, showers, eats breakfast and watches SportsCenter before setting out for the plant at 5:30. He is stationed at the very end of what’s known as the final line, the last stage of the vehicle-assembly process. By the time a truck arrives at his position, its frame has been attached to the chassis and the engine is in place. Powell has 1 minute 40 seconds to perform his routine on each vehicle, a series of tasks that includes attaching cables to batteries, tightening nuts and bolts and installing a transmission dipstick.

Barack Obama has called the dying U.S. auto industry “an emblem of the American spirit,” but Powell speaks about what he does without romance or nostalgia. “It’s not a glamorous job, to say the least,” he told me as we settled into a booth at a nearby Arby’s. Still, Powell derives at least a little satisfaction from his work. “Do I feel a sense of pride when I spot a Silverado or Sierra on the road?” he said. “Yeah. I do.”

Read it all, here.

This Week’s Best Profile

Here’s a new feature we’ll be starting: the best recent profile I’ve read, every Monday, for your leisurely enjoyment during the week.

This week, it’s not the New York Times Magazine’s ill-timed cover story on Rafa Nadal. It’s the one in Texas Monthly that includes this passage:

As a juvenile, Erin could not be taken directly to the sheriff’s office for questioning, and so she appeared that afternoon before a justice of the peace. “After everything we had heard, I was picturing a monster, for lack of a better word,” said Sergeant Vance. “Here was someone who had dreamed up a scheme to murder her family and manipulated people into carrying out her plan. And then in walks this tiny, meek, blond-headed girl who couldn’t fight her way out of a wet paper sack.” The judge informed Erin of her rights and asked if she would be willing to speak with investigators. She declined to meet with the Texas Ranger or Detective Almon, electing to make a written statement instead. The brief account, put down in her girlish handwriting, echoed what she had told Chief Sanders: There had been smoke and strangers with swords, and she could not remember much else.

Why did this Texas girl have her family murdered?