Nov 3, 2014, Vol. 20, No. 08 • By THE SCRAPBOOK
Frank Bruni, the restaurant critic-turned-op-ed columnist for the New York Times, traveled to Texas recently to attend the Austin City Limits Music Festival—and did he have a miserable time! The music seems to have been enjoyable enough, but Bruni’s own pleasure was seriously diminished by ubiquitous commercialism. During the concerts, Honda and Samsung Galaxy ads could be seen, as well as a Miller Lite banner hovering near the stage. “Someone shoved a free sample of Cinnamon Toast Crunch cereal at me on my way in,” he complained in his column last week. “Someone else handed out free beer cozies advertising Imperial, a brew on sale at the event.”
This was not just annoying to Bruni, but disheartening as well. Austin’s “subversive soul” is usually to Bruni’s taste, but “I was at the limits of my patience. I hadn’t expected all these corporate come-ons . . . to be assaulting me here of all places.” And from Austin, Bruni expanded his purview, finishing his essay with a list of grievances, including sports venues with corporate names (MetLife Stadium), movie stars who advertise commercial products (Matthew McConaughey), and “the way hucksterism invades everything, scooping up everyone.”
In one sense, The Scrapbook is sympathetic to Bruni—although, truth to tell, we find corporate stadium names more amusing than distressing, and lament the fact that most are sponsored by banks or insurance companies and not hemorrhoid medicines or insect repellents.
Of course, deploring the commercialization of American life is nothing new, so far as we can tell, the progressive equivalent of fundamentalist complaints about secular Christmas. But our sympathy for Bruni was, frankly, complicated by the actual experience of reading his column. Not the column itself but, just as in Austin, its immediate surroundings. For in order to get to Bruni’s column in this particular edition of the Times (October 22), The Scrapbook was obliged to wade through pages, and untold inches, of brazen commercial advertising—all with a distinctively affluent, not to say ostentatious, tone.
There were corporate come-ons for One Percenter playthings such as private banks (BNP Paribas) and elegant ads for high-end shoes (MaxMara), jewelry (Paul Morelli, Marina B), perfume (Chanel), diamond watches (Breitling, Ebel, Patek Philippe—sold at Tiffany, no less), “grape-specific” wine glasses (Riedel), luxury tourism (Caravan), women’s fashion (Dior), men’s cashmere overcoats (Frank Stella), and private aircraft (NetJets, “feel as safe at 41,000 feet as you do on your own two”).
Indeed, The Scrapbook was not just demoralized by all this, but insulted, too. When we read the New York Times we expect to be informed, not solicited, and enlightened, not assaulted by rampant commercialism. Journalism, as the Times frequently reminds us, is a sacred calling, a private expression of a public trust, not a forum for “hucksterism [invading] everything, scooping up everyone.”
At least we weren’t menaced by beer cozies and free samples of Cinnamon Toast Crunch.
Hosted by Michael Graham.4:35 PM, Oct 14, 2014 • By TWS PODCAST
The WEEKLY STANDARD podcast with senior writer Stephen F. Hayes on ebola in the U.S., the administration's response, and how ebola is impacting close senate races in 2014.
Hosted by Michael Graham.2:00 PM, Oct 3, 2014 • By TWS PODCAST
The WEEKLY STANDARD podcast with editor William Kristol on the ebola outbreak in the United States and the Obama administration's response.
The history of Texas in the Bloys Camp MeetingSep 1, 2014, Vol. 19, No. 47 • By JOHN STEINBREDER
In 1884, John Zach Means and his wife Exa acquired a ranch just outside the tiny town of Valentine, Texas. The spread was called the Y6, after a cattle brand he had designed, and the couple’s move there was the happy culmination of several years of despair and hard work.
7:32 AM, Aug 19, 2014 • By DANIEL HALPER
The editorial board of the New York Times has plenty of nasty things to say about Texas governor Rick Perry. But the editors still think the indictment of Perry "appears to be the product of an overzealous prosecution."
1:02 PM, Aug 16, 2014 • By WHITNEY BLAKE
Following Texas governor Rick Perry's grand jury indictment yesterday, even David Axelrod cast significant doubts on the merits.
After a disastrous 2012, he’s alive and kicking. But will voters give him a second chance? Jul 28, 2014, Vol. 19, No. 43 • By FRED BARNES
Google has not been kind to Rick Perry. Type in “Rick Perry gaffe” and you get 111,000 results. Google also offers “searches related to Rick Perry gaffe.” These include “Rick Perry drunk speech, Rick Perry oops, Rick Perry gaffe YouTube, Rick Perry gaffe debate . . . Rick Perry video, Rick Perry forgets department, Rick Perry debate gaffe.”
At times, our intellectual property laws produce results that are patently absurd Jul 14, 2014, Vol. 19, No. 41 • By JONATHAN V. LAST
One February day in 2012, the U.S. government granted its 8,112,504th patent to a corporation called Personal Audio. The company’s invention was described as a “system for disseminating media content representing episodes in a serialized sequence,” which sounds complicated and impressive. The invention looked even more complicated, and more impressive, if you read through the 31,000-word text describing it. The supporting images looked more complicated still, but less impressive.
With the flood of immigrants, Obama's lack of enforcement has “come home to roost.”11:45 AM, Jun 26, 2014 • By FRED BARNES
Immigration reform is deader than ever in 2014 and the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee says President Obama is to blame.
Jun 2, 2014, Vol. 19, No. 36 • By THE SCRAPBOOK
We’ve weighed in sufficiently in recent issues on unhappy commencement activities at the nation’s universities. So here’s a change of pace: a fantastic speech, delivered by Admiral Bill McRaven. As Navy Times blogger David Larter reports, McRaven “is a bad-ass—and fount of good advice. Head of the U.S. Special Operations Command, he is a 36-year SEAL who has been at the tip of the spear in the war on terror since 2001.
8:04 AM, May 5, 2014 • By MICHAEL WARREN
Governor Rick Perry of Texas criticized President Barack Obama's Washington-centric approach to solving problems in a Sunday appearance on NBC's Meet the Press. Perry was asked by host David Gregory about the recent botched execution of a convicted murderer in neighboring Oklahoma and the announcement from Obama that his administration would be "analyzing" the use of capital punishment in various states. Perry said he was confident about how Texas administered executions, and then offered a critique of Obama.
3:02 PM, Apr 15, 2014 • By MICHAEL WARREN
Republican gubernatorial candidate Greg Abbott of Texas is more popular among female voters than his Democratic opponent, state senator Wendy Davis, according to a new poll from PPP. The Democratic polling firm found 51 percent of Texas voters support Abbott while 37 percent support Davis. That's not surprising, since Texas is a solidly Republican state.