The New Yorker

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Campaign 2016

A Political Discussion Series

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Not a day goes by without a significant event of the presidential race gracing the front page of every website and newspaper, and it’s no surprise why. With the two frontrunners of the election, Hillary Clinton, and Donald Trump, being some of the most radical, charismatic, and problematic figures in recent political times, it seems that everyone is keeping a close eye on who will fill President Obama’s oval office-shaped shoes.

 

And while everyone has something to say about the matter, some people can say it better, such as the Editor of The New Yorker, David Remnick, staff writers Amy Davidson, and Kelefa Sanneh, and Founder and Editor-in-Chief of FiveThirtyEight, Nate Silver, who, in collaboration with The New Yorker, engaged in a political discussion at NeueHouse Madison Square. Touching on everything from nationalism and racism to our ongoing national catastrophe, Remnick, Silver, Davidson and Sanneh, gave insight into the polemic presidential race.

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Artwork: Anthony Gerace for NeueJournal

GAY & NAN TALESE

More or less impulsive

Creative Channel: Gay & Nan Talese | Artwork by: Brigitte Lacombe w/ guest photo editor Janet Johnson | NeueJournal Issue 1

Gay and Nan Talese have had storied careers and a storied marriage. The two legendary figures of the New York literary world celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary a few years ago, and through that half century, have coexisted in a partnership, both domestic and creative, that reads a bit like fiction. For our the inaugural print publication of NeueJournal, we gained some insight into what makes the Taleses tick, both as individuals, and as a couple. 

 

GAY TALESE: It’s typical. This morning I said, “We’ll go away Thursday.” Nan’s been looking forward to getting out of New York; it’s been cold, and she doesn’t like New York so much . . .

 

NAN TALESE: Too noisy. I love the country, and Gay loves the city.

 

GT: . . . but this afternoon I said, “I just can’t deliver this thing to The New Yorker. I’m working on it and I thought I’d be finished this weekend and I’m not, so I have to work through the weekend.” She understood, “Okay, so we won’t go.”

 

I think that our marriage, which was more or less impulsive, was characteristic of the way the rest of our life has gone. I was in Rome during the summer of 1959 writing a piece for The New York Times Magazine when Fellini was making La Dolce Vita. The movie had sprawled itself out from the studio on the fringes of the city and was a living episode of the daily traffic of Rome, and the nighttime atmosphere as well. I called Nan up—she was at Random House then—and asked, “Do you want to come over? This is fabulous.” She decided that this was going to be a marital trip and bought a one-way ticket—

 

NT: That’s because I didn’t have enough money then for a two-way ticket.

 

GT:—and she called my parents [to tell them] we’re going to get married. That shows you that at times one person is more decisive than the other.

 

NT: You never wanted to get married.

 

GT: Well, that was before the edict was delivered. I knew [she] was the person, if I didn’t marry, at least I should marry, if not now, then at sometime—but then that sometime became eliminated by her determination. So that was it. Both of us had a Catholic education, but we did not get married in a church [much to her parents’ chagrin]: We got married in the atmosphere of La Dolce Vita.

We’ve had a very episodic life. There were instances good and bad, glamorous and dreary, that we’ve tolerated and accepted as part of the truism that marriage is a long marathon, not a sprint.

 

NT: I remember when [our daughter] Catherine was about to get married and she asked, “Mummy, what’s it like to be married?” and I said, “Well it’s like being on the front of a roller coaster: You go up and down, up and down, and that’s marriage.”

 

GT: The reason that we were initially attracted to one another intellectually was that we both were fond of the same books. About a year before we got married, we lived together and had a library that was partly hers and partly mine. One of the deterrents to breaking up was that we’d have to return the books, which would have been too inconvenient, so we stayed together for fifty-seven years. The books have become more numerous—there are now 4,000–5,000 books all through the house.

 

NT: We care very much about books [and appreciate the same things. . .although we’re opposites in other ways]. We [also] have a very strong work ethic, and I think we’re pretty considerate of each other.

 

GT: Nan has made her living all of our married life editing and acquiring books from American and some international writers, as well more than five decades of being an acquiring editor and a pencil editor line editor. And along the way I have written books, magazine pieces, and sometimes newspapers articles. She goes to the office on Broadway and 56th Street, and I go to a subterranean apartment below the house that I call a bunker. Our routine from 1959 to 2015 hasn’t changed all that much.

 

On March 7, 2015 I [had] a front-page article in The New York Times that opens by describing a landscaper in Selma, Alabama, digging holes alongside the street and inserting pansies and certain kinds of shrubs. I didn’t know what kind of shrubs. . .

 

NT: Gay can’t tell one flower from the other] so I told him what they were: pansies, azalea bushes, and small evergreen trees. They all would have sounded the same if he had done it. I [also] read aloud everything Gay’s writing before it goes to the publisher.

 

GT: I like her reading aloud, because when you hear your work coming back at you with a different voice, there’s a different perception. You get clarity about it. So anything I don’t like I can more readily change when I hear it in Nan’s voice.

 

NT: And actually what I’ve learned from Gay, which has been very helpful to my authors, is that I know what it’s like for an author to be alone all day and to be writing on a blank piece of paper.
This conversation has been edited.

 

Photography: Brigitte Lacombe for NeueJournal
Guest Photo Editor: Janet Johnson 

 

The Creative Time Sleepover

NeueHouse Partners with Creative Time for a Night of Interactive Art and Performance

The problem with any good party is that it always ends too early. Last Friday, Neuehouse partnered with Creative Time to find the ideal solution to this age-old quandary on the occasion of their annual Fall Ball: a sleepover. Guests turned up at NeueHouse’s Madison Square property, clad in their finest slumber party attire (which, in artist Dustin Yellin’s case, entailed nearly nothing) to enjoy 12 hours of food, drink, performance, art installations and a smorgasbord of artist-run activities.

 

A potent cocktail at the Absolut Elyx molecular bar (hosted by mixologist Alex Ott) was a delicious way to loosen up before testing one’s art knowledge at Sebatian Errazuriz’s Pictionary challenge. Errazuriz challenged participants to “guess the artist” from his crude depictions in 30 seconds or less, an easy feat for Creative Time’s art-minded guest list. Meanwhile, Vanity Projects’ manicurists had set up shop, offering Will Cotton-inspired nail art (Cotton was on hand to approve each mini-masterpiece). Tom Sachs’ rice and beans cart was a big hit, as was Raul de Nieves’ karaoke lounge. Sasha Frere-Jones, The New Yorker’s pop music critic, was stationed behind the DJ booth, breaking only for performances by Andrew Kuo’s psych-rock jam band Hex Message and the always-theatrical Citizens Band.

 

As the night wore on, things got delightfully strange. David Colman and his team of “officers” strip-searched attendees, commanding them to remove articles of clothing until they verbally resisted. Entitled Zip, The risqué interactive art piece was a commentary on the NSA’s encroachment on our personal privacy. In the foyer, an impromptu game of spin the bottle (or, if we’re going to get technical, spin the salad tong) emerged. Onlookers munched on pizza, the perfect 1am snack.

 

Weary from dancing, guests retired to the basement, where rows of cots had been assembled under the glow of Jonah Freeman and Justin Lowe’s short film, The Floating Chain. After a white Russian from the adjacent milk bar, it was time for a snooze.

 

At 8am guests were awoken with a commanding “Get up!” and served Matcha, a Japanese solution to their inevitable hangovers. After a tasty breakfast courtesy of Lower East Side’s healthy hot spot Dimes, and a quick yoga session led by Grey Area, the brave partiers who lasted until daybreak were ready to take on their Saturdays… or head back to their quiet apartments for a few hours of shut-eye before returning to Neuehouse for Creative Time’s dance party.