Atlantic, March 2009
The cover story predicts the long-term results of the financial crisis and foresees a new geography for the U.S. economy. New York is “much, much more than a financial center,” and its critical mass of creative talent will ensure its enduring vitality. The crisis will hit hardest in places furthest removed from high finance—areas of the country that depend on manufacturing and real estate speculation. Detroit may “become a ghost town.” The cities with the best creative ecosystems will prosper, as the new economy will be about “generating and transporting ideas.” … An article wonders whether Guitar Hero might be able to save the real rock ’n’ roll. Simulation is a “sacrament” of rock, and it will be around “as long as the adolescent mind dreams and sweats.” The game also reminds players of “classics”: A 1994 Weezer song sold at 10 times its usual rate after appearing on Guitar Hero III.
Time, Feb. 23 An article reveals how ardently the Obama administration has been courting Republican Sens. Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe of Maine. Vice President Joe Biden called Snowe in December to leave a home telephone number, and both she and Collins have met with President Obama in the Oval Office. The pair, known for their independence, has become even more powerful now as they make up two of the three Senate swing votes. They praise bipartisanship: Collins says, “[T]he American people want us to solve problems and stop fighting.” … An article heralds Grand Theft Auto:“[W]ith each installment, [the games display] more and more radical and sophisticated experiments in storytelling.” The most recent release made $500 million its first week on shelves, the largest opening of any entertainment franchise in history. To maintain the complex story, “a sustained fictional inquiry into the myth of the great American badass,” creators use elaborate diagrams of the characters and plotlines.
Economist, Feb. 14 The cover story calls Obama’s management of the stimulus a “wasted opportunity,” objecting to the president handing over negotiations to “fractious congressional Democrats” who let a bitter partisan fight develop. The piece also complains that the House “larded” the bill with pet projects that are unlikely to provide an urgent stimulus effect. But Tim Geithner’s financial rescue plan was even more unfortunate, as it “looked depressingly like his predecessors’ efforts: timid, incomplete and short on detail.” … An article finds the e-book market “hotting up” with Amazon’s new Kindle and Google’s plan to release 1.5 million books in smartphone-friendly formats. But Apple is in the best position to capitalize: The iPhone is already the most used e-book reader, and adding books and newspapers to iTunes would be simple, perhaps allowing Apple to expand its domination while giving hope to print publications.
Esquire, March 2009 A profile follows the rise of Fox News anchor Shephard Smith, who both embodies the “underdog” spirit of the network and stands apart from its partisan reputation. According to Fox creation myths, he’s the one whom the network brass supposedly saw as their future ticket to world domination. Over the past year, Smith has “distinguished himself by treating Republicans as aggressively as Fox News normally treats Democrats—by seeming fed up with Republicans, and maybe with the strictures of Fox News itself.” His “balance” has led the media world to wonder about his ambitions, but he’s as much a warrior for Fox News as ever. … An interview with Sarah Palin is heavy on colorful personal details. She likes white-chocolate mochas and mooseburgers, is a lifelong fan of SNL, and thinks she’s not “hot” “without a trough full of makeup on.” She also—as we all well know—hates “bored, anonymous, pathetic bloggers who lie.”
New York Times Magazine, Feb. 15 The cover story investigates the “mystery” of Houston Rockets guard Shane Battier, the “no stats all-star.” Battier is widely regarded as an average athlete, but he routinely shuts down the NBA’s most dangerous offensive players. He’s part of Houston’s new way of looking at basketball statistics, a perspective that challenges the box-score-driven perceptions that have “warped” the game. Simple, obscure stats—like the “plus-minus,” which looks at what happens to the score when a certain player is on the court—take the focus off of individual numbers and put it back on invisible ways to play as a team. … Virginia Heffernan gets philosophical about Facebook statuses, the perfect place for “spontaneous bursts of being.” She can’t find a satisfying grand theory of updates, but her friends have good advice: ”You take a tiny story, which seemingly concerns only you and in which you play the role of hapless, bumbling protagonist.”
The Atlantic’s predictive cover story on America’s future economic geography is an engaging thought experiment.
An analysis of Beyoncé in TheNew Yorker mostly re-reviews her latest album and doesn’t add anything particularly compelling.
Best Politics Piece
The Economist summarizes the stimulus debate with characteristic wit and realism.
Best Culture Piece
A Newsweek article explains why Americans don’t hate the wealthy with the vitriol that many Europeans hurl at respective upper classes.
Most Unexpectedly Intriguing List
Foreign Policy’s lengthy roster of the most powerful think tanks—both domestic and international—is surprisingly interesting and educational.