The New Yorker February 1, 2021

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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Jon Lee Anderson (“The Vanishing Wild,” p. 30), a staff writer, began contributing to The New Yorker in 1998. He has published several books, including “Che Guevara.” Lauren Groff (Fiction, p. 50) received the 2018-19 Story Prize for the shortstory collection “Florida.” Her new novel, “Matrix,” will be out in September. John Seabrook (“Office Space,” p. 40) is the author of four books, including, most recently, “The Song Machine.” Rachel Syme (Books, p. 56), a staff writer, has covered style and consumer culture for the magazine since 2012. Michael Torres (Poem, p. 44) was a winner of the 2019 National Poetry Series Open Competition, for “An Incomplete List of Names.” He teaches at Minnesota State University, Mankato, and in the Minnesota Prison Writing Workshop. Casey Cep (Books, p. 66), a staff writer, is the author…

the mail

THE PANDEMIC IN AMERICA Lawrence Wright’s exhaustive and historically important account of the COVID-19 crisis contains the surprising revelation that Dr. Deborah Birx, the coördinator of the White House Coronavirus Task Force under Donald Trump, spent much of the past year travelling through the United States and cajoling governors, public-health officials, hospitals, universities, and others to impose masking orders and other measures to help stop the spread of the disease (“The Plague Year,” January 4th & 11th). Birx and her colleague Irum Zaidi covered twenty-five thousand miles in rented cars, and seem to have persuaded even the governor of Texas to implement a mask mandate. Wright notes that Birx was “the only federal official” who consistently promoted masks and social distancing in this way. Although she did not halt the Trump…

goings on about town: this week

JANUARY 27 – FEBRUARY 2, 2021 Boston Lyric Opera’s arresting stop-motion film of Philip Glass’s “The Fall of the House of Usher” (available starting Jan. 29, at sets Edgar Allan Poe’s tale of familial strife at a migrant-detention center on the U.S.-Mexico border. The Usher home and the government facility are both monuments to the misery of their inhabitants. As Glass’s gradually intensifying music plays, a Guatemalan girl who has been separated from her mother dreams up a doll-like world populated by Poe’s star-crossed characters. ART Jane Freilicher For more than fifty years, as Abstract Expressionism gave way to Pop, then to Minimalism, and on to Neo-Expressionism, until art’s isms exhausted themselves, Freilicher devoted herself to painting “eternally fixed afternoons,” to borrow a phrase from Frank O’Hara’s 1957 poem “Chez Jane.” (In addition…

tables for two: gastronomy underground

Last summer, the chefs Pablo Rojas and Roxanna Mejia, both furloughed from their kitchen jobs, launched Gastronomy Underground, which delivers taco sets and multicourse meals to diners in Brooklyn. That the married couple, who are in their mid-twenties, have been undeterred by the challenges of the past year in their aspiration to cook professionally in New York City comes as little surprise. They met as college students in the border town of Brownsville, Texas, where Mejia grew up and where Rojas moved as a twelve-year-old. After a short time pursuing other careers, their shared passion for cooking (specifically baking, in Mejia’s case) grew into “an itch to work in kitchens,” Rojas told me recently. In 2019, they sent fifty impassioned letters, cold, to high-profile restaurants around the country. After landing opportunities…

comment: man with a plan

President Joe Biden arrived in office with the kind of coherent, ambitious plan that Americans may almost have forgotten was possible. On Thursday, he issued the “National Strategy for the Covid-19 Response and Pandemic Preparedness,” which embraces a set of priorities that includes better data collection and analysis, building more testing capacity, and sending a directive to the Occupational Safety and Health Agency to produce and enforce standards protecting workers from the virus. By the end of the week, he had signed thirty executive orders, which began the work of dismantling policies that Donald Trump had instituted in the service of his ego and his base. Biden’s orders bring the United States back into the Paris climate accord and the World Health Organization, end construction on the border wall, rescind…

wind on capitol hill: the green zone

The peaceful transition of power brought more than twenty thousand troops to Washington, D.C., for Inauguration Day. “It’s like in Baghdad!” Read Scott Martin, a local pedicab operator, said as he circled the new security perimeter known as the capital’s Green Zone, which spanned the National Mall and the White House. As Donald Trump was telling supporters at Joint Base Andrews to “have a good life,” before flying away to Florida on Air Force One, to the strains of “My Way,” Scott Martin, whose pedicab had a sign that depicted a pig and read “STOP THE SQUEAL,” pedalled around Lincoln Park to watch the National Guard change shifts. Their body shields and shoulder pads were lined up on the grass beneath a statue of Lincoln and an emancipated slave. “They’re…