I Hate My Valentine, and Other News


On the Shelf

“Oh look at me I’m so cool with the piano”: a Vinegar Valentine.


  • Irwin Corey, the soi-disant “World’s Foremost Authority” who spent much of the twentieth century declaiming on this and that with an inexhaustible reserve of faux pomp, has died at 102, thus bringing an end to one of the greatest fusions of comedy and performance art. T. Rees Shapiro’s obituary recalls Corey’s brightest literary moment—when he served as a stand-in for Thomas Pynchon. “His career reached its peak of absurdity in 1974 when he was called upon to accept the National Book Award on behalf of the reclusive author Thomas Pynchon for the novel Gravity’s Rainbow. Corey gave a wandering acceptance speech on behalf of Pynchon, offering thanks to Communist Party leader Leonid Brezhnev, Secretary of State Henry Kissinger—whom Corey called the ‘acting president of the United States’—and author Truman Capote. Since Pynchon had never made a public appearance, many in the audience assumed the prattling Corey to be the mysterious author. (Corey did not, in fact, know Pynchon, but they had mutual friends who arranged the comedian’s book-award talk.)”

  • Our Summer 2014 issue featured a cover and portfolio from Raymond Pettibon, the artist who got his start drawing flyers for Black Flag in the seventies. (He used to work right down the hall from us; his dog, Boo, was something of an office fixture.) Now Pettibon has a retrospective at the New Museum. Peter Schjeldahl writes, “The images that Pettibon draws are also either borrowed or look like they are. Comic-book characters have been a frequent source: Batman, Gumby, and the little guy from the old Felix the Cat television cartoon series … Another recurring persona is Jesus, who, in a 1990 drawing, appears on the Cross, musing, ‘I am after eight years’ hammering against impenetrable adamant, become suddenly somewhat of a success.’ Pettibon’s graphic style is no style, a clunky mélange of cartooning and illustrational modes that lack honed skill and nuanced feeling. It works extremely well, appearing gauche only until you accept its service to blunt statement: manner at one with matter. Though never employing caricature, the work’s effect updates a tradition of pointed grotesquerie that has roots in Hogarth, Goya, and Daumier and branches in the modern editorial cartoon: aesthetic pleasure checked by the absurdity or the horror—the scandal—of the subject at hand.”
  • A public-service announcement from Shannon Mattern: no matter how often Silicon Valley tells you otherwise, and no matter how beautifully the designed the devices are on which they’re telling you otherwise, the city is not a computer. So don’t treat it like one. Mattern writes, “We’ve long conceived of our cities as knowledge repositories and data processors, and they’ve always functioned as such. Lewis Mumford observed that when the wandering rulers of the European Middle Ages settled in capital cities, they installed a ‘regiment of clerks and permanent officials’ and established all manner of paperwork and policies (deeds, tax records, passports, fines, regulations), which necessitated a new urban apparatus, the office building, to house its bureaus and bureaucracy … It is an information processor, to be sure, but it is also more than that … The city is not a computer. This seems an obvious truth, but it is being challenged now (again) by technologists (and political actors) who speak as if they could reduce urban planning to algorithms.”