… and doing it well

I told Choire last night (my New Years resolution, which isn’t going so well, is not to repeat the same thing to different people), re Ariel Levy’s review of the revised Joy of Sex, that “whatever they are feeding Ariel Levy at the New Yorker is good stuff and I want some,” and, well, I still feel that way this morning!  Ruth actually made me sit and read it in front of her to see if I would LOL at the same line she did, and I did.  It’s better with the lead-up, but it’s still pretty good on its own:

If you are a child of the seventies and were raised on “The Joy of Sex,” you are not likely to have forgotten the illustrations. The woman depicted in these drawings is lovely, and, even nearly forty years later, quite chic. Her gentleman friend, however, looks like a werewolf with a hangover. He is heavily bearded; his hair is long, and, it always seemed, a little greasy. His eyelids are usually at half-mast, adding to his feral appearance. In some of the pictures, you can practically smell him. (The smell is unpleasant.)

Word. Some other stuff is usually at half-mast too.  When I found this book (chez my maternal grandparents, of course! Sheesh) I remember that this guy’s ick factor made me feel pretty certain that I was a burgeoning l-word.   This, with some on-trend exceptions in like the year ‘Bound’ and ‘Chasing Amy’ came out, did not turn out to be the case, but it has still taken me many years to recover from these illustrations enough to embrace (heh) the hairier sort of man.  If this was a live conversation, now would be about the time a person would probably clear his throat and say to everyone “Hey did you know that overshare was the word of 2008″ in a meaningful way and I would get the clue to shut up.  Anyway, this LOL parenthetical recalls a similar aperçu in Levy’s slam-dunk Cindy McCain profile, about the Baptist church where the McCains worship in Phoenix:

The majority of the congregation opposes abortion, and, of homosexuals, Stafford said, “We would want to help a person who’s struggling with any of those life issues find a healthy way to resolve it.” (When he was asked for an example of another such life issue, Stafford replied, “Materialism.”)

Ariel Levy is completely taking the New Yorker to school and using it to clean the blackboard and then writing some new stuff on the blackboard which is awesome.   Also I’m glad that she doesn’t have to work at New York magazine anymore, because New York magazine shoots puppies in the face (except I like David Edelstein’s movie reviews).

10 comments to … and doing it well

  • If the gorilla from “Joy of Sex” already made you question your sexual orientation, I’m surprised Ariel Levy hasn’t pushed you over the fence. I’ve found no man or woman who is able to say, “I do not have a crush on Ariel Levy.” She’s great!

  • burgeoned l-word

    what, no sex since 1997? i am disappointed! ;)

  • emily

    Those are both really good points. and also “burgeoned” i guess that is a little bit of an oversimplification, I mean I did attend college.

  • Disagreement! I was disappointed with both Levy pieces. The Cindy McCain article was too hateful. Levy didn’t even interview her, and didn’t try to find one redeeming fact about her. Even the adoption of Bridgette–who must have more issues than National Geographic–was cause for scorn. I think the NYT piece on Cindy McCain’s money (http://www.nytimes.com/2008/08/23/us/politics/23mccain.html) was much better.

    Speaking of biases, I think Levy should have mentioned her lesbianism in the Joy of Sex piece. Because I don’t think most people who have or sleep with penises would disagree with Comfort’s argument that a dildo is not a dick

  • emily

    but that’s not really his argument … his argument is more like, a dildo is a disgusting impostor, whereas Levy’s implying that the, like, enlightened way to think of it is as in another category entirely. And you don’t have to be a lesbian to feel that way.

  • emily

    also re: redeeming facts, maybe there just aren’t any!

  • Re: Cindy McCain (redeeming fact)– btw, this ties in nicely with the whole seventies theme…

    Cindy McCain was a phenomenal child STAR– she played Cindy Brady on The Brady Brunch.

    OK, ok!, so Cindy McCain DIDN’T really play Cindy Brady on The Brady Bunch (we’re all grasping at straws here!). They do, however, look eerily alike, no?

    As for smells, don’t get too close to the TV when Cindy McCain’s on– you can smell her too! Although with Cindy, it’s an entirely different seventies stink: Love’s Baby Soft + AquaNet. (Feral in its own way…)

  • julia

    I didn’t even realize that both articles were written by the same person, though I thought both were terrific. Thanks for pointing it out.

    Regarding Rebecca’s point about not even interviewing McCain, I seriously doubt any McCain would sit-down with someone from the New Yorker (though it is a funny idea!) but if she wasn’t transparent about that, she should have been. Whatever. The New Yorker’s not pretending to be unbiased. It is what it is.

  • Mrs. McCain might not, but Ryan Lizza profiled Mr. McCain in Feb. Obviously a lot changed from Feb ‘08 to the general election.

    But whether or not Ariel Levy could have gotten an interview with Cindy, the article read as if she hadn’t even tried. (Indeed, there was no “Cindy McCain’s publicist did not return calls” line.)

    The magazine is obviously liberal, but that doesn’t stop most writers examining their subjects with a genuine curiosity. Ariel Levy, and readers it seemed, went into the piece already disliking Cindy McCain. That’s my problem with her writing. She seems to already have a thesis before she starts reporting, instead of letting her own reporting surprise her and us.

    Also, I’m trying to quit facebook and apparently have taken up blog commentating to help me detox.

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