The New Yorker December 14, 2020

Founded in 1925, The New Yorker publishes the best writers of its time and has received more National Magazine Awards than any other magazine, for its groundbreaking reporting, authoritative analysis, and creative inspiration. The New Yorker takes readers beyond the weekly print magazine with the web, mobile, tablet, social media, and signature events. The New Yorker is at once a classic and at the leading edge.

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Sheelah Kolhatkar (“In Too Deep,” p. 44), a staff writer, is the author of “Black Edge: Inside Information, Dirty Money, and the Quest to Bring Down the Most Wanted Man on Wall Street.” Ian Frazier (“Rereading ‘Lolita,’ ” p. 30) most recently published “Hogs Wild: Selected Reporting Pieces.” He is at work on a book about the Bronx. Doreen St. Félix (On Television, p. 70), a staff writer since 2017, is The New Yorker’s television critic. Edward Steed (Cover) has contributed cartoons to the magazine since 2013. Monica Youn (Poem, p. 56) won the William Carlos Williams Award from the Poetry Society of America for her book “Blackacre.” A former lawyer, she teaches at Princeton University and is a member of the Racial Imaginary Institute. Nick Paumgarten (The Talk of the Town, p. 16) began…

the mail

A POTENT TACTIC I was grateful to Andrew Marantz for his engagement with questions concerning civil disobedience (“The Anti-Coup,” November 23rd). He emphasized the success of nonviolence as a tactic, prompting me to think back to the sixties and early seventies, when civil disobedience in response to the Vietnam War was widespread. While the commitment to nonviolence was undeniably tactical, it was also a spiritual choice, evidenced by the roles that Quakers and the Catholic left played in organizing the movement. I understand spiritual commitment as an alignment with something bigger than divisive self-interest. The fact that people are willing to risk their well-being for the sake of a cause greater than their own interests remains surprising and powerful. Understanding this less tangible aspect of nonviolent action feels important in the…

goings on about town: this week

DECEMBER 9 – 15, 2020 The playwright, performance artist, and sprite Taylor Mac (above) does holiday cheer with a twist of subversion. In 2017, Mac, who uses the gender-neutral pronoun “judy,” débuted “Holiday Sauce,” a vaudevillian romp emphasizing alternative family over Christmas capitalism, at Town Hall. This year, it goes virtual. On Dec. 12, Mac performs “Holiday Sauce … Pandemic!” (available online through Jan. 2), featuring music, burlesque, a tribute to queer elders, and designs by Mac’s frequent collaborator and fellow-maximalist Machine Dazzle. TELEVISION Happiest Season This new meet-the-family holiday movie, streaming on Hulu, comes with a peppermint twist: the lovebirds are lesbians. Harper (Mackenzie Davis) is a journalist in Pittsburgh who invites her girlfriend, Abby (Kristen Stewart), home with her for Christmas to her tony Pennsylvania suburb; unfortunately, she does not tell Abby…

tables for two: pecking house

These days, moments of joy seem to arrive mostly by surprise, offering brief relief from the dull feeling that weeks and months are blurring together. The other night, one came via cheap beer. It was Tsingtao, a pale lager, produced by China’s second-largest brewery, with an easy-drinking flavor profile that’s as carefully calibrated and comforting as Coca-Cola’s. I’d never had a Tsingtao at home but have rarely eaten in a Chinese restaurant without ordering one, if not two, especially to pair with anything spicy, its sweet, yeasty, almost creamy roundness cutting obligingly through heat. I hadn’t realized how much I missed it until I opened a bag of food dropped off by Eric Huang, the impressively pedigreed Taiwanese-American chef behind a new takeout-and-delivery operation called Pecking House. Two bottles were packed…

comment: getting through

On November 25th, as millions of Americans were travelling for Thanksgiving, Angela Merkel, the German Chancellor, gave a press conference with a double-edged message. For much of the pandemic, her country had kept the coronavirus relatively under control, only to see a second-wave surge; a full third of the country’s eighteen thousand COVID-19 deaths occurred in November. (Per capita, Germany has lost a quarter of the people the U.S. has lost.) The government responded with more stringent controls and guidelines—closing bars and restaurants, limiting gatherings—and now, Merkel announced, “the exponential growth in the number of infections has been broken.” But, even with a vaccine on the horizon, the crisis isn’t over. There needs to be, Merkel said, one more “energetic push,” which will require three things of her fellow-citizens: “patience,…

dept. of juvenilia: lester bangs at state

When Joe Biden tapped Antony Blinken, a veteran of the Obama and Clinton Administrations, to be his Secretary of State, a quick batch of thumbnail bios noted that he was a “guitar aficionado.” Did this mean that he was a connoisseur of the object itself—a collector of fine guitars? Or that he knew a lot about guitar players? Or that he was an ace player himself? The clickbait-industrial complex quickly discovered that Blinken had a Spotify page, with two singles he’d recorded two years ago, under the handle (and pun) Ablinken. So here was another dad-rocker Pro-Tooling his sideline musings and chord changes into presentable foist-it-on-your-friends form. As someone with connections, money, and letterhead, he’d had help along the way. He’d played with Alex Chilton, from Big Star, and Grant…