Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Readings: A Cabal for the Ages

My copy of The New Yorker magazine with the Obama cartoon cover arrived in today’s mail, even as the brouhaha it created begins to end in a whimper. (Did I mention that, of all the many political, news, and cultural mags to which I’ve subscribed over the years, The New Yorker is the only one I still take?) Well, it is—and here’s why:

The Ryan LIzza story about Obama isn’t even close to being the most interesting piece in the July 21, 2008 edition. Consider, for instance, the article “Surfing the Universe” by Benjamin Wallace-Wells. This piece tells us the strange and wonderful story of a snowboarding beach boy who earned a Ph.D. in physics from UCSD at the age of 31 and then essentially dropped out of sight for most of the following decade, only to reemerge claiming to have discovered The Theory of Everything – the Holy Grail of Physics. More gripping than politics is this stuff, people.

But this one issue of The New Yorker can top even that. Are you familiar with the towering, magisterial, literary critic and thinker, Harold Bloom, who resides somewhere down in the ivy at Yale University? If not, begin learning about him here. I’ve read many of his books. They are all strange and challenging and…awe-inspiring. I sometimes think that Harold Bloom is buggier than a hillbilly hatband, but few writers have engaged me at so fundamental a level.

So, I ask you: In what slick periodical other than The New Yorker is one apt to find an article (“The Spiritual Life – H-Bloo on A-Rod” by Ben McGrath) that features the surrealistic constellation of baseball superstar, Alex Rodriguez; perennially dominant diva, Madonna; and Ivory Tower guru, Harold Bloom? You’re not gonna find stuff like this in the National Review or The Nation. No way.

How are these mind-bending connections made? Well, for starters, A-Rod has a plug and Madonna has a socket. You can work out a Big Apple celebrity mise-en-scene that works for you concerning how that juice allegedly started flowing. Harold Bloom, it turns out, is a big Yankee fan. Madonna and Bloom are both into Kabbalah. And A-Rod cites the Material Girl as his soul-mate. Hey, presto! This piece may come closer to the Unified Field Theory than the one cited above.

Bottom line: subscribe to The New Yorker; become acquainted with the mind-expanding writings of Harold Bloom; check out Madonna’s rendition of “Fever” on the Erotica album…

…and remember who sent you there.
ADDENDUM: Since the article I'm raving about is entitled "H-Bloo on A-Rod" I guess that I should give you some Bloom on Rodriguez. Here goes:
"The great Alex Rodriguez, the famous A-Rod, is not a clutch performer," he said. "He compiles these enormous statistics, but every time I make the mistake of looking at a game he comes up with two out and men on second and third, and does nothing."

A-Rod no good in the clutch? Uh, Madonna -- feel free to chime in here, if you like.