Letters From the Editor

Things Recently Learned, as Told in the Second Person

1) Laptops are not supposed to smell like cabbage. When your dining table is both the only counter in your miniscule kitchen and also your desk (this twin purpose forced by the size of your New York apartment), it’s hard to avoid the remains from last night’s ribs and cabbage gumming up the underside of your powerbook. Cabbage tastes great, but it stinks. Now the laptop smells like a Polish restaurant.

2) Corby Kummer was right: Benton-Lane’s Pinot Noirs are delicious. You would buy a case if you could afford it, but there’s enough satisfaction in knowing you were able to talk your local wine shop into stocking them through eternity.

3) Sophie Calle is your new favorite contemporary artist.

4) Though extremely late to the party, you’re happy to find out how funny and pensive Thomas Friedman can be in books like From Beirut to Jerusalem as compared to his columns, which you like (along with your new favorite, David Brooks) but always wish were longer, or, simply, not op-eds. You still hope his current five-part series will turn into more of a roadmap than it’s been so far.

5) Incorporation is not as hard as it sounds – god bless the good people of Delaware.

6) Letting the chicken dry out a while in the fridge before roasting makes for a super-delicious crackly skin. Thank you Russ Parsons.

7) From Bryan Magee’s The Tristan Chord:
I do not believe that Shakespeare was religious in the normal sense, though (or perhaps rather because) he was a person of the profoundest metaphysical insight, but what comes across in his plays is a view of each character as if he were an immortal soul, that is to say as if his existence were ultimately independent of the existence of this world: other people, society, the universe itself – all these could vanish and yet what is essential to the being of that character would remain. Furthermore, Shakespeare had a genius that no one else has equaled for understanding and being able to put into words how everything looks, and is understood and felt, from that one, incomparable standpoint. In his presentation of the human individual there are no generalizations: everything about everyone is specific and unique. This being so, in his creation of his characters he comes as close to being effaced as it is possible for such a great author to be. The ultimateness of each and every one of them in the fullness of his or her irreplaceable being leaves no room for an authorial presence, no space for it to occupy. The character appears not as a dummy sitting on the knee of a ventriloquist who is the real character, the one doing all the talking, but a fully created and achieved human being who needs no one else to give him a mind and a soul.
Richard Easton and Kevin Kline were transcendent; the production, you gotta say, only so-so.

8) Working out on a regular schedule again makes you feel better and zaps melancholy that you’d previously blamed on the dark early mornings. Besides, running in the snow makes your ears hurt; there is no shame in a membership to New York Sports Club, especially when your wife kindly pays for half of it.

9) David Brent’s dancing for his troops is one of the funniest moments of television history.

10) Harley Spiller, Chinatown guide, also linguist.

11) Writing in the second person makes us sound like a sad fat mayor. Never again!

* * *

There’s a Christmas tree rolling down my street right now, messing with traffic, an evergreen tumbleweed probably three feet tall with its needles still green. An ornament remains on one of the lower branches, a small red heart on a gold loop.

How much will some emo band pay me to shoot their next album cover?

15 minutes later: The heart has fallen off, the tree has now rolled across the street so they’re separated by traffic. My fee just tripled itself.


Rosecrans Baldwin co-founded TMN with publisher Andrew Womack in 1999. His latest book is Everything Now: Lessons From the City-State of Los Angeles. More information can be found at rosecransbaldwin.com. More by Rosecrans Baldwin

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