An annoying side effect of having grown up with the New Yorker in the house is having those little stock phrases pop up in my mind unprompted. So out of the blue I find myself privately referring to friends on vacation as Far-Flung Correspondents, or when I’m consciously keeping my mouth shut about something it’s the No Comment Department. And fairly often when I come across something culturally interesting, it’s like someone’s maiden auntie is living in my head waving an umbrella around, and I think “Onward and Upward with the Arts!”
My inner auntie was activated loudly this week on finding out that Lorin Stein, new editor of The Paris Review and obviously an Onward and Upward kind of guy, has instigated a blog. The Paris Review Daily is
looking for a way to keep in touch with our readers between issues, and to call attention to our favorite writers and artists in something close to real time. If the Review embodies a sensibility, this Daily will try, in a casual and haphazard and at times possibly frivolous way, to put that sensibility into words.
Taking inspiration from the Review’s founding editor, George Plimpton, our mode will be participatory journalism, our beat the arts. We will write about what we love, not as critics, but as participants—as amateurs in the Plimptonian sense of the word. That anyway is our aim.
They’ve already hooked me with a gallery of Louise Bourgeois’ black-and-white drawings and a sweetly weird love letter to Ignatius Reilly. And now I have to keep coming back because June is Terry Southern month—when I wasn’t reading my folks’ New Yorkers, I was checking out their copies of The Magic Christian and Candy. Even if you have to hate him a bit for his description of Paris in the ’50s—
Oh it was terrific because the cafés were such great places to hang out, they were so open, you could smoke hash at the tables, if you were fairly discreet. There was the expatriate crowd, which was more or less comprised of interesting people, creatively inclined. So we would fall out there at one of the cafés, about four in the afternoon, sip Pernod until dinner, then afterwards go to a jazz club. Bird and Diz, and Miles and Bud Powell, and Monk were all there, and if not, someone else.
—it’s still compelling stuff, and they haven’t even gotten to the part about making Easy Rider with Dennis Hopper. Harold Humes, Peter Matthiessen and George Plimpton were all forward-thinking men, and I’m sure they would have approved of this newest project. I definitely do.