It’s still a bit a
exactly what happened at the 92nd Street Y in New York Monday night, when an
appearance by Steve Martin
turned so—unsatisfying?—that the organizers offered everyone a refund. The discussion between Martin and the event’s host, Deborah Solomon of the New York Times, reportedly dwelt on Martin’s new book and its art-world setting for so long that the
audience sent up a request
for Solomon to ask Martin about his career instead.
The most mind-boggling part of it all, though, was the comment Solomon gave to a Times reporter about the crowd’s lowbrow attitude:
I think the Y, which is supposedly a champion of the arts, has behaved very crassly and is reinforcing the most philistine aspects of a culture that values celebrity and award shows over art.
The philistines didn’t want to hear a serious discussion about the book! They wanted to ask about stupid trite stuff instead. That might be a valid complaint, if it were coming from almost anyone on the planet besides
But Solomon is the midcult
; her entire shtick is asking public or semipublic figures
to make it seem as if she’s caught them further off guard than she has). Refusing to talk about the current project is her standard operating procedure. Tim Russert comes out with a book about fathers? Do a
hassling him about not writing about his mother (and then cut out what he says about his mother).
Here’s Solomon, who only wants to talk about the book,
of Women’s Campaign International:
[Q:] Although you are a woman of accomplishment — a former member of Congress from Pennsylvania, the head of a nonprofit called Women’s Campaign International and the mother of a combined family of 11 children — you seem destined to be known as Chelsea Clinton’s mother-in-law. How do you feel about your new title?
[A:] I made a promise that I will not talk about this, and I’m sticking to my guns. Today my passion rests with Women’s Campaign International. I am convinced that in order to have a world that works, we need more empowered women at the table worldwide.
[Q:] Chelsea Clinton, by contrast, who married your son Marc, is an only child who presumably grew up in a more restrained atmosphere. I can see why she might enjoy being part of a boisterous family.
[A:] Please refer back to Answer 1.
Deborah Solomon criticizing the 92nd Street Y crowd for its vulgar interests is the pot calling the kettle a stupid pot that just wishes it were a kettle. It’s Michael Bloomberg calling someone a thin-skinned little tyrant, or Albert Haynesworth complaining that someone is fat and out of shape. It’s Heidi Montag making fun of someone for having fake breasts. Deborah Solomon can’t understand why people don’t want to talk about the book.
[* Correction: This post originally misspelled Marjorie Margolies’ last name.]