Tag Archives: vanity fair

This Week in Great Sentences

Themes of the New Year: face punching, underground snowstorms, ye olde duderino, and prodigious use of the F bomb:


It’s Carnivale in the truest sense: social mores are out the window, and everyone is looking to have The Night Of Their Lives. The girls look at you like they want to fuck you and the guys look at you like they want to punch you in the face.

To wit: I was punched in the face.

-Chris Chafin, “Passion Pit at Terminal Five,” New York Press, 1/11


The makers of this film seem to have given slight thought to the psychology of teenage girls, less to the possibility that there is no heaven, and none at all to the likelihood that if there is one, it will not resemble a happy gathering of new Facebook friends.

-Roger Ebert, “The Lovely Bones,” RogerEbert.com, 1/13. Tip via Cribbster.


Seriously, you know the line about how they “paved paradise and put up a parking lot?” Like how they replaced something beautiful with something cold and heartless and commercial? That’s you. You’re the parking lot, motherfucker. You drove your shitty steamroller over something everyone loved so you could pander your sensitive pussyhound whine to people waiting in line at the Carl’s Jr. They paved Nirvana and put up a Counting Crow. Argh!

Maura Johnston and Christopher R. Weingarten, The 50 Worst Songs of the ’00s, F2K No. 1: Counting Crows ft. Vanessa Carlton, “Big Yellow Taxi,” Village Voice, 12/22/09


In the vicinity of the accident the air had been instantly supercooled by the tons of escaping helium—which meant that several hundred feet underground, sealed off from skies and weather, snow began to fall. “Some say the world will end in fire / Some say in ice,” wrote Robert Frost, but in this sector of the Large Hadron Collider, the showstopping spectacle involved both at once.

Kurt Andersen, “The Genesis 2.0 Project,” Vanity Fair, 1/09


DONALD: Wherefore thou playest not at ninepins on Saturday, Sir Walter?
WALTER: On our most holy Sabbath I am sworn / To keep tradition, form and ceremony. / The seventh and the last day rests the Jew; I labour not, nor ride in chariot, / Nor handle gold, nor even play the cook, / And sure as Providence I do not roll.

-Adam Bertocci, excerpted from “Two Gentleman of Lebowski,” via Thrillist, 1/8

This Week in Great Sentences

As Lou Gehrig’s disease sapped Joshua Thompson of his ability to move and speak last fall, he consistently summoned one question from within the prison of his own body. “Iplex,” he asked, in a whisper that pierced his mother’s heart. “When?”

Amy Harmon, NYT, “Fighting for a Chance to Live,” 5/16/09

Though I typically despise ledes that start with “as” (once had an editor who would kick his rolling chair backwards and start making beeping noises, saying “WHOA!! Watch out! Backing into a lede here!”), Harmon uses it efficiently. The Times has some prosaic and eloquent writers and reporters, but it’s often at its best using plain language and subtle, honest imagery to convey a story’s meaning; in this case, the frustrations dealing with the pharmaceutical regulatory system.


You didn’t just watch a double feature but steeped like a tea bag in the contemplative dungeon atmosphere.

James Walcott, VF, Splendor in the Grit (on NYC in the 70s), June 09

Walcott writes here about the sense of adventure in discovering dingy basement theaters or obscure screens across the city that New York cinemaphiles used be forced to endure. The experiences of poor sight lines, dicey crowds and unfamiliar neighborhoods served as a companion piece to the art at hand, an experience that’s been lost with the invention of Criterion Collection and Netflix and everything else, he argues. I don’t particularly agree with his point as I think he overreaches in romanticizing the grit of New York in the 1970s (a better class of grit than it would be if the city is pushed back down the slope by the recession, he says), but he paints great word pictures.


I burned The Misanthrope set while we lay naked on this mattress in front of the fireplace, sipping sparkline rose out of matching hollow-stemmed champagne glasses and listening to the Fantasia on Greensleves.

Spalding Gray, “College Girls,” from the unfortunately titled, but still worth reading, book Drinking, Smoking, Screwing: Great Writers on Good Times, 1994

Casually anarchistic. Formally awesome.