Inside the Times as a Fellow: Some lessons about journalism I picked up.

From an Inside the Times story by Danielle Allentuck headlined “Lessons in Reporting and Life”:

Last June, two weeks after I graduated college, I walked into The New York Times Building for the first time. I was one of 23 members of The Times’s inaugural fellowship class, a one-year program aimed at developing the next generation of journalists. In a collection of essays online, you can read about some of the paths that we took to get to The Times and what we’ve learned. Once here, we were stationed throughout the newsroom. . . .

From The City: “Essential Workers Write Covid Haiku”

From The City: A post by Virginia Breen headlined “Struggle in 17 Syllables: Essential Workers Write Covid Haiku”:

Stress riding the subway
Questions without answers
Not workers fault
—Subway booth clerk Kelebohile Nkhereanye

Empty taxi cabs
cruising along avenues
with bankrupt drivers

No opera now
the virus darkened the Met
but birds sing to me
—Retired midtown cabbie Davidson Garrett

Walker Percy: “He finished two novels, neither of which he could get published. But he kept at it.”

From The Writer’s Almanac:

It’s the birthday of Southern writer Walker Percy, born in Birmingham, Alabama. Percy’s early life was marked by tragedy: his grandfather and father both committed suicide with shotguns, and his mother drowned when her car ran off the road into a stream. When his uncle in Greenville, Mississippi, adopted Percy and his little brothers, things took a turn for the better; it was there that he met his lifelong best friend, the neighbor boy Shelby Foote.

Larry Kramer: “When we started to break through in the media, I was better TV than someone who was nice.”

From the New York Times obit by Daniel Lewis on “Larry Kramer, Playwright and Outspoken AIDS Activist”:

Larry Kramer, the noted writer whose raucous, antagonistic campaign for an all-out response to the AIDS crisis helped shift national health policy in the 1980s and ’90s, died on Wednesday morning in Manhattan. He was 84. . . .

An author, essayist and playwright — notably hailed for his autobiographical 1985 play, “The Normal Heart” — Mr. Kramer had feet in both the world of letters and the public sphere. In 1981 he was a founder of the Gay Men’s Health Crisis, the first service organization for H.I.V.-positive people, though his fellow directors effectively kicked him out a year later for his aggressive approach. (He returned the compliment by calling them “a sad organization of sissies.”). . .

John Cheever: The writer’s task is to evoke “the perfumes of life.”

From The Writer’s Almanac:

It’s the birthday of novelist and short-story writer John Cheever. He wrote for more than 50 years and published more than 200 short stories. He’s known for writing about the world of American suburbia. Even though he was one of the most popular short-story writers of the 20th century, he once said that he only earned “enough money to feed the family and buy a new suit every other year.”

Anthony Bailey: “He became known, even as a young writer, for taking long walks that often yielded friendships and story ideas.”

From New York Times profiles of  lives we’ve lost an appreciation by Glenn Thrush of “Anthony Bailey, Biographer With Restless Literary Spirit”:

Anthony Bailey’s mother packed her seven-year-old son off in 1940 for safekeeping to an American foster home, far from the German bombers pulverizing their dockside hometown Portsmouth, England.

Two weeks later, Mr. Bailey found himself in the Dayton, Ohio, mansion of Otto Spaeth, a wealthy factory owner, philanthropist and art collector who owned paintings by Paul Cézanne, Henri Matisse, Georges Braque, Edward Hopper and Paul Gauguin.

“It was imprinted on him, art, from that moment forward,” his daughter Annie Bailey said in an interview.

On Many TV News Shows, It’s the Rounding Up of the Usual Suspects

The movie Casablanca, starring Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman, is on most lists of the 10 best movies ever made and one of the film’s most famous lines is spoken cynically by Captain Louis Renault of the French police: “Round up the usual suspects.” It comes after German officers confront Renault over allowing gambling to go on at Rick’s Cafe, the bar run by the Bogart character.

“Round up the usual suspects” also could be the headline of a story about what’s happened to cable news shows and much of journalism. Night after night the Wolf Blitzers of cable television round up the usual suspects and they talk and talk about the latest news in the age of Trump.

Laird Barron on Writing Toward a Piece of the Truth

From a post on headlined “Laird Barron on leg-breakers, Alaskan hard men, and writing toward a piece of the truth”:

Fiction is the act of forging a myth, of translating a signal into a common tongue. Truth may be the essence of great writing. But the key word here is essence. I think of writers such as J. Todd Scott, Robin Burstein, Chris Irvin, or Joseph Wambaugh, or anybody who possesses hands-on expertise with the brutish side—be it as a law enforcement agent, a victim, or a scofflaw.

Van Gordon Sauter: “The news media is catching up with the liberalism of the professoriate, the entertainment industry, upscale magazines.”

From a commentary column in the Wall Street Journal by Van Gordon Sauter headlined “The ‘Liberal Leaning’ Media Has Passed Its Tipping Point.” Sauter was president of CBS News in 1982-83 and 1986.

The highly influential daily newspapers in New York, Washington, Los Angeles and Boston are now decidedly liberal. On the home screen, the three broadcast network divisions still have their liberal tilt. Two of the three leading cable news sources are unrelentingly liberal in their fear and loathing of President Trump.

They Were Soldiers: “If you’ve seen friends die, if you’ve nearly been killed yourself, then you realize that every day after that is a gift.”

From an NPR interview by Michel Martin of Joseph Galloway and Marvin J. Wolf, co-authors of  They Were Soldiers: the Sacrifices and Contributions of our Vietnam Veterans:

Martin: We wanted to talk about a new book that takes a fresh look at the aftermath of the Vietnam War. And when people think of that war, it’s often framed in terms of devastation – tens of thousands killed, many more wounded physically and emotionally. And, of course, there was the political turmoil.