Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Old New Yorker

This is a take off of the New Yorker magazine. Living as I do in Europe, I don't take it for granted that the publication is universally known. The wonderful thing about the New Yorker is that it still exists; every week it still comes out, full of long, rambling articles, illustrations, and cartoons. In this bleak media landscape, it surprising that something so good could still be; why shouldn't it be sleeping in the same crypt with all the other hundreds of beautiful magazines? The mag is a gem, the last of its kind.

Now, on to The Old New Yorker. The motif is taken from a neon sign, I think about E. 60th Street. The sign itself is worth everything, but I have some fond associations of the bar inside, which was a student hangout for Hunter College, some blocks up. Back in those days it was famous for selling draws, frosty mugs of draft beer costing only a dollar. Some years ago I popped in there to revisit and found it had changed typically for the worse, offering instead a grim array of expensive, bottled swill. All charm and goodness was gone—except for the sign on the facade.

No wonder it was featured in Mad Men. (if for a brief instant.) This series has an astonishing attention to detail, evoking the recent past. Rather than slapping some sceneographic sign up, they used the real McCoy, showing The Village Inn's reflections in a taxi. The curved glass of the taxi's window, passing slowly beneath the sign, caused the neon reds and oranges to undulate. This perfectly fits with the era and atmosphere that the series evokes. NY is the city that always changes, I know, but I like it when some little perfect thing can survive, just by chance.

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