On Whether a Critic Like Roberta Smith Can Seriously Look in the Mirror and Not Feel Sorrow about the Sad and Dishonest Legacy She Continues to Uphold

16Feb08

In which The Gay Recluse looks at the suffocation of the gay voice at The New York Times and other hallmarks of the new dark ages.

For those who missed it, we would like to point you in the direction of a recent post by Jeff Weinstein, in which he compares a truth about Jasper Johns and Robert Rauschenberg — namely, that they were boyfriends/lovers/partners for approximately seven years, from 1954 -1961 — with recent descriptions of this same relationship by Roberta Smith and some of her fellow critics, who all use the word “friend” (or some variation) instead of an explicitly romantic term. (Seriously Roberta, wtf? And you wonder why so much criticism seems like it was written in a crypt.)

And while we’re on the subject of Weinstein, we would like to recommend his book of essays (it really doesn’t do them justice to call them “reviews”) he wrote as a restaurant critic for the Village Voice in the 1980s. Things we learn about New York City 25 years ago include: 1) people still actively discussed things like labor unions as a way to mitigate against the effects of capitalism, 2) Mary Tyler Moore reruns were very popular among a certain set, and 3) food was a lot cheaper then (it makes us wonder what the numbers would be in today’s currency, i.e., adjusted for inflation; we have a sneaking suspicion that eating out has gotten more expensive, but that’s probably what people always say). More seriously, what we like about these essays — the book is called Learning To Eat — is that while Weinstein writes with authority and grace (and — yes, Roberta — honesty) about any given subject (and food is often tangential), he has a constant awareness of doubt and remembrance that gives the book a surprising timelessness; or perhaps timeliness is a better description, given our sense after reading it that in many ways, we have regressed over the past 25 years and are even less enlightened now than we were then. (And have we not — via Weinstein — also provided the evidence for this?)

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