The big chatter in the journalism world at the moment is the painfully embarrassing column by New York Times public editor Arthur S. Brisbane. He starts out with this guffaw-inducing, but intended to be serious, question: “I’m looking for reader input on whether and when New York Times reporters should challenge ‘facts’ that are asserted by newsmakers they write about.” Given that newspapers are, by definition, supposed to deal in facts and truth, his question makes for a fat -- no, morbidly obese -- pitch, and Salon’s Alex Pareene hits it out of the park in a piece mockingly headlined, “Times public editor asks if newspaper should correct lies.”
For months, I’ve tried to resist Tina Fey’s memoir, “Bossypants,” but when I happened on a copy of it in the library’s Crane branch, I snapped it up, took it home, and found myself, yes, laughing out loud. The “30 Rock” and “Saturday Night Live” writer/producer is especially funny on the topic of her personal appearance, for example her first bra: “I developed breasts so early and so strangely high that the bra was more to clarify what they were. That they were not a goiter or something.” So, though I intended to be reading Richard White’s uber-serious and well-regarded history, “Railroaded: The Transcontinentals and the Making of Modern America,” I couldn’t help myself. Fey’s book starting tearing up the bestseller lists last spring and it hasn’t slowed down much. I can see why; it’s chatty, gossipy and engaging.
Jay-Z’s latest song, “Glory,” released Monday, is a tribute to his and wife Beyonce’s newborn baby girl, Blue Ivy Carter. The emotional song, “featuring B.I.C.” (the babe’s initials make her sound like a rapper in training) has a backbeat that sounds like a human heart and you can hear her very own whimpers in the background at the end. Not since Stevie Wonder’s “Isn’t She Lovely” -- about his baby girl, circa 1976 -- has a big time entertainer given us such a heartfelt tribute to new life. Is the song and its timely release really just career management and self-promotional hype by the ultimate pop-music power couple? Sometimes a family can be a great career move, but this sounds pretty darn sincere to me. Pop moguls are people, too.
In my live chat on Buffalonews.com this week, a reader asked me how come I hadn’t paid attention to the local art scene in a recent column on cultural highlights of the year. I had to plead guilty, while noting that I admired “The Long Curve,” the Albright-Knox Art Gallery’s retrospective of its 150 year history, still up for all to see until March 4th. But meanwhile, the gallery gets major props from national art writer Tyler Green in his Modern Art Notes blog: “If you’re not wowed by the strength and depth of the Albright’s collection, you’re not getting out enough.” Other than MoMA, says Green, “you could probably match the A-K’s collection up against any other modern/contemporary-focused museum in America and have a pretty good argument.”
I got out this week to 464 Gallery on Amherst Street to see the Mark Freeland show: Dozens of one-foot-square paintings with color that pops and figures that are both weird and lovable. What you think when you see them is, “How many of these can I buy right now?” You immediately picture them grouped on your dullest wall, making everything better, hipper, brighter. They were $200 apiece, so it’s easy to calculate just how much fun you can afford. Freeland, who died a few years ago, was a pop-music icon in Buffalo, and was as deeply mourned by his Elmwood Avenue audience as any beloved political leader. His aesthetic was original and authentic. See a sample of the work in News Arts Critic Colin Dabkowski's advance story in Gusto. Even better than the paintings, arguably, is a little paperback book by Freeland that’s for sale at the gallery: “Somewhat Hip.” $10 for a pocketful of cool.
Dinner afterwards at Black Rock Kitchen, just across the street. Lobster rolls, pork enchiladas, a friendly din, a tableside visit from owner Mark Goldman, and a $20 bottle of California Pinot Noir. If it weren't for the reasonable prices, you could swear you were in TriBeCa.