Ellen Willis listening and typing in her apartment on Waverly St., early 80s. Photo from the Ellen WIllis tumblr archive.
Critic Caleb Crain has written a fascinating blog post about a photo that captures President Obama, Hillary Clinton, and other White House officials as they receive an “update on the mission against Osama bin Laden.” Crain argues, however, that it is possible, even likely, that they are in fact watching bin Laden’s death. The post enlarges four faces from the photo and analyzes them in minute detail: Robert Gates’s “mask of confidence,” Obama’s “grim mouth” and “hungry eyes,” Clinton’s “pure horror,” and Joe Biden thinking: "What's happening is reasonable."
This fall, powerHouse will publish a book version of Joy DeLyria and Sean Michael Robinson’s Internet project Down in the Hole, in which they rewrite the HBO show The Wire as an illustrated Victorian novel.
Last night well-heeled magazine professionals dutifully gathered at the ASME awards gala. Among the notable winners: Christopher Hitchens for his Vanity Fair columns; John Jeremiah Sulivan of the Paris Review for “Mister Lytle: An Essay;” Paul Theroux’s story, "Minor Watt," from the Virginia Quarterly Review; and Poetry magazine, which won the unwieldy-sounding award for “General Excellence, Literary, Political and Professional Magazines.”
Tonight at apexart gallery in New York, poet, professor, and Bookforum editor Albert Mobilio will read from his new poetry collection Touch Wood, along with novelist Marcy Dermansky, author Heather Kristin, and fiction writer Stephen O’Connor.
There’s been a bit of an Ellen Willis revival lately: A collection of her music criticism, Out of the Vinyl Deeps, was published this month by the University of Minnesota Press, her work is being posted on a tumblr archive, and NYU recently held a day-long symposium examining her work. Willis, who died in 2006, was one of the most astute and original writers of her generation, the first New Yorker pop-music critic (from the late-60s though the mid-70s), a groundbreaking feminist, and the founder of NYU’s graduate program of Cultural Criticism and Reporting. At the New Yorker’s Book Bench blog, Sasha Frere Jones (who wrote the book’s introduction) reflects on what made Willis’s writing so distinctive—and why she’s not better known.