Hoisted from 2007: Why Oh Why Can't We Have a Better Press Corps? (Yet Another David Brooks/New York Times Edition): I can't stand it. I can't keep quiet any more... http://www.bradford-delong.com/2007/07/why-oh-why-ca-3.html
...Could the New York Times please replace David Brooks with a literate columnist: somebody with minimal, and I mean minimal, contact--even contact through the Cliff Notes versions alone would do--with the Western cultural heritage? Somebody who has seen, heard, or read at least one thing like Medea or Agamemnon or some version of the Song of the Waelsungs (Wagner's Ring operas would do) or Tam Lin?
It's really embarrassing when you get howlers like:
The New Lone Rangers: If you’ve been driving around listening to pop radio stations this spring and summer, you’ll have noticed three songs that are pretty much unavoidable, and each of them is a long way from puppy love. First, there’s “Before He Cheats,” by Carrie Underwood. This is a song about a woman who catches her boyfriend in a bar fooling around with someone else. But she’s not wounded or insecure. She’s got nothing but contempt for the slobbering, cologne-wearing jerk.... The second song is “U + Ur Hand,” by Pink. This is about a woman out for a night on the town, very decidedly without men.... The third song is “Girlfriend” by Avril Lavigne... about a woman who tells a guy to make his loser girlfriend disappear...
[T]hey’re about the same sort of character: a character who would have been socially unacceptable in a megahit pop song 10, let alone 30 years ago... hard-boiled, foul-mouthed, fedup, emotionally self-sufficient and unforgiving... disgusted by male idiots and contemptuous of the feminine flirts who cater to them. She’s also, at least in some of the songs, about 16. This character is obviously a product of the cold-eyed age of divorce and hookups...
It would be impossible to commit such a howler as that last sentence if Brooks had ever heard of Medea or Klytemnestra (who makes Carrie Underwood look like Little Bo Peep) or Sieglinde (who makes Pink look as genteel as Miss Elizabeth Bennett) or Janet of Carterhaugh (who unlike Avril Levigne faces down not just another "loser girlfriend" but the Queen of Air and Darkness herself).
None of them are "obviously... product[s] of the cold-eyed age of divorce and hookups."
I mean, all I'm asking for is minimal, and I mean minimal, contact--even through the Cliff Notes versions alone would do--with the Western cultural heritage. Is that so much to ask of a New York Times columnist?
Apparently it is.