paper trail

S. I. Newhouse Jr. has died; Hugh Hefner's troubling legacy

Lou Reed

S. I. Newhouse Jr.—who once owned the Random House publishing company and later went on to buy the New Yorker, Vanity Fair, and a number of other magazines—has died at age eighty-nine.

The Hollywood Reporter is already asking Lena Dunham if she plans to adapt Hillary Clinton’s new memoir, What Happened, for TV.

An excerpt from Anthony DeCurtis’s new biography of Lou Reed recalls how the legendary musician came to interview playwright, dissident, and later president of the Czech Republic Vaclav Havel. Rolling Stone, which originally commissioned the interview, killed the piece. “It was definitely terrible,” said one critic who read the interview at the time. (Eventually, after Reed added to the article, the magazine Musician ran it.)

“I’m always returning to the question of language and what happens when I claim a language that ancestrally isn’t mine, and historically was a language of dominion, of dominance. Something there is contradictory.” Jamaican poet Ishion Hutchinson talks to The Believer.

Hugh Hefner might have published work by Updike and Nabokov in Playboy. But, Ross Douthat argues in the New York Times, “his good deeds and aesthetic aspirations were ultimately incidental to his legacy—a gloss over his flesh-peddling, smeared like Vaseline on a pornographer’s lens.” At Current Affairs, Nathan J. Robinson details Hef’s tyrannical and abusive behavior, stating that “Hugh Hefner was not a good person.” “‘Liberty,’ while essential, is meaningless unless it is also coupled with a set of standards for how people should actually behave toward one another.” Susan Brownmiller, author of Against Our Will: Men, Women, and Rape, has this to say about the Playboy founder’s legacy: “Are we really O.K. with the reality that our girls are being raised in a world that Mr. Hefner made? I’m not.”

Siva Vaidhyanathan, the author of The Googlization of Everything, writes of Trump’s response to storm victims in Puerto Rico: “W might not have cared enough about black people to handle Katrina with competence. But Trump is actively hostile to brown people.”