This week’s New Yorker cover taps into the visual similarities between two very different types of Brooklyn dwellers: Hasidic Jews and hipsters.
The striking image is named “Take the L Train,” referring to the Brooklyn-bound subway line, and features a hipster and a Hasid, back to back, sporting the same long black beard.
The Orthodox Jew wears traditional curled side locks, a black hat and long coat, while the hipster’s outfit consists of ripped jeans, black nail polish and a tank top that shows off his tattooed arms.
Israeli artist Tomer Hanuka praised the aesthetic of long beards, but noted that grooming extensive facial hair can be time-consuming.
“Bohemian beards may save time because you don’t have to shave, but a big beard demands commitment,” the award-winning cartoonist told the New Yorker. “But I think superbeards can add gravitas to any face.”
Hanuka is no stranger to the struggles of maintaining perfectly groomed facial hair.
Despite regularly shaving his face and head, he struggles to keep the five o’clock shadow at bay, often sporting what he dubs a “Homer Simpson chin.”
Hanuka isn’t the first to point out the visual similarities between Hasidic and hipster men.
The blog “Hasid or Hipster,” features photos of men who look like they fit into both Brooklyn-based communities, and late-night host Jimmy Kimmel had audience members guess whether a particular beard belonged to an ultra-Orthodox Jew or a hipster.
“Between the hipster community and the Hasidic community here in Brooklyn, Brooklyn is by far the most bearded spot in New York. There’s more facial hair here than almost anywhere,” Kimmel joked.
While some see the two groups’ lifestyles as conflicting, others are not afraid to embrace both labels, such as Hasidic Jew Yuda Schlass, who started a Crown Heights sandwich shop named Hassid + Hipster.
The cover’s title “Take the L Train,” bears the same name as a Brooklyn Funk Essentials song, which features subway announcements alongside jazz instrumentals.
The MTA recently announced it would close the L subway line for up to three years, causing many Brooklynites to bemoan extended commutes.
Photo courtesy Jewish Book Week London
As fiction editor of The New Yorker, Deborah Treisman’s job is one of the most enviable in the literary world. It is certainly one of the most influential. In fact, The New York Times described it as a job that carries the literary clout equivalent of St. Peter at the Pearly Gates. On March 1, Treisman was at Jewish Book Week in London, in conversation with Guardian columnist and feature writer Hadley Freeman, discussing the merits and challenges of the job she has held since 2003.
Treisman was born in Oxford and moved to Vancouver at the age of 8. She comes from academic stock — both her parents and siblings are renowned professors and her stepfather, Daniel Kahneman, shared a Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences. Instead of academia, she decided to go into publishing. After graduating in Comparative Literature at University of California, Berkeley, Treisman worked at the literary magazine, The Threepenny Review and then moved to New York to intern at Harper’s Magazine. This period was followed by a year at The New York Review of Books and subsequently four years as editor at Grand Street. Treisman was deputy fiction editor for five years at The New Yorker before becoming the magazine’s first female fiction editor since Katherine White in 1925.
Treisman admitted that she had probably not written a story herself since she was 11, telling the packed audience that she had submitted it to The New Yorker, only for it to be rejected. But anyone hoping to have the definitive answer to how the magazine picks its stories would have been disappointed. There is no “one thing,” and there is no trademark piece, according to Treisman. The range is extreme and Treisman stressed that what is important is that a published story must “achieve on its own terms.” The styles and approaches can be different but for a story to be effective it “must do what it set out to do.”
Five years after Daniel Menaker started working at The New Yorker in 1968 — first as a fact checker, then as a copy editor — he was told by the executive editor to look for another job. A lack of diligence, and because Menaker had criticized the content of a piece, something that was considered out of line for a copy editor, almost derailed his career at The New Yorker.
Menaker stayed another 26 years, and eventually became the magazine’s fiction editor, editing submissions by Alice Munro, David Foster Wallace and others before moving on to becoming editor-in-chief of Random House. He left the post in 2007 to undergo treatment for lung cancer. A New York City native born to a Jewish father and a Protestant mother, Menaker, now 72, wrote his memoir, “My Mistake,” which was published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt on November 19. He spoke to the Forward about the omnipresence of Woody Allen’s humor and what he thought the Bible might look like in 2,000 years.
Anna Goldenberg: At the end of your book, you describe how you sift through your personal archives, look at the old New Yorker issues and look at your books. As you do that, what sort of thoughts go through your head?
Daniel Menaker: The first thought that goes through my head is, “How could I have made such a mess of my papers?” I guess the second thing that occurs to me was how fortunate I have been in my life and my background, despite its problems and despite its tragedy. Even though there were dark periods, in a way even they turned out to make my life fuller, even if sadder. I don’t believe in being thankful to any deity, but I do believe in being grateful to randomness.
Every frame in Rachel Loube’s “Every Tuesday: A Portrait of the New Yorker Cartoonists,” now screening at the Boston Jewish Film Festival, together with “The Art of Spiegelman,” threatens to dissolve into cliché. There is the premise itself: Every Tuesday, New Yorker cartoonists, young and old, submit their work, and then go for lunch. It is a beautiful, invisible New York tradition, the kind that Gay Talese would have celebrated in luxurious prose, the kind that the media is intent on reminding us no longer exist. The restaurant is appropriately shabby. The food scenes are all set to jazz.
There is no question that if “Every Tuesday” were any longer it would become unbearably familiar and impossible to watch. But at 20 minutes, it’s perfect. The cartoonists come alive in short bursts. Zachary Kanin, a Harvard Lampoon alumnus, is legitimately hilarious. Their very different apartments and workspaces quickly tell us about their different styles and approach to the craft. We watch some cartoonists revise and edit their work on imposing Apple Monitors, and others retrace their cartoons on top of a light box. Some aim for perfection, while others have started to embrace artistic imperfection. Wouldn’t it be better if a rectangle weren’t so rectangular?
“Every Tuesday” is everything you want in a short film: It brings you into a unique world, gives you enough information to make you feel like you understand the key issues, and leaves you absolutely wanting more.
Watch a teaser for ‘Every Tuesday’:
Who better to herald the next lurching step in the death march of print media than Lena Dunham? The 25-year-old writer-slash-director-slash-star of “Girls” also wrote, directed and starred in a five-minute web video introduction to the publication’s “head-spinning” new portable portal, where a bizarro, slacks-clad version of herself named “Lanny Donhom” (?) takes to a fake talk show and uses host Jon Hamm as interlocutor to elucidate crucial questions like “what is an iPhone?”
In a clip-within-the-clip, Dunham goes “Devil Wears Prada” as a fictional New Yorker editor and berates a bewildered Alex Karpovsky on how the app will put each week’s worth of articles, reviews, and cultural goings-on at the fingertips of iPhone subscribers. (Apparently, skipping straight to the cartoons has never been easier. How handy!)
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