'Not From Here,' stories by Nathan Deuel

NYT bosses should cover whatever they like — except puppies

Bill Keller, editor of the New York Times, at ...

Bill Keller: presidents, not puppies. (Image via Wikipedia

When New York Times bossman Bill Killer’s byline appeared on articles datelined Tehran last spring, media watchers were confused. Was this hubris, a desperate and dangerous move for an embattled editor, or something more sinister? Or on the other hand, was it a laudable moment when the general takes the rifle from his private and hops over the hill to show his men how to fight?

Keller is a highly decorated reporter, of course, having filed definitive dispatches from among other places, Russia, which is where he earned his 1989 Pulitzer. But he also worked in South Africa, which is why we have this:

As president Mr. Mandela could be surprisingly approachable — he once allowed me, the New York Times correspondent in South Africa at the time, to shadow him during a day of his presidency, something I can scarcely imagine an American president allowing. But since stepping down in 1999, and especially since his memory began to fail him, he has become more reclusive, protected by a staff that worries he might embarrass himself. But he obliged Mr. Freeman.

via Film – Morgan Freeman as Mandela in ‘Invictus’ – Rugby as Statecraft – NYTimes.com.

It’s part of a lengthy film review Keller filed this week of Invictus, in which Morgan Freeman plays South African leader Nelson Mandela. I’ll leave the matter of his critical chops to the true film aficionados, but as a regular and eager reader of the paper, I feel justified in saying this: Read the rest of this entry »


Filed under: Journalism, Media, New York Times, Russia, Writing, , , ,

As 'Times' constricts, a look at its sickly sweet heart

Image representing New York Times as depicted ...

Image via CrunchBase

A regular feature in the Monday edition of the Times, the Metropolitan Diary is a typically quiet collection of Dear Diary submissions from readers with a unique New York experience to share. Often drawn from overheard conversation, tender accounts of stolen moments, or funny encounters, the feature sounds pretty treacly. And it can be. But for whatever reason, I absolutely love it.

Take this entry, from this Monday’s paper.

Dear Diary:

When you work at a luxury hotel, as I did, employees must make sure the guests get exactly what they request. This can be especially frustrating when a guest is asking for something completely irrational.

In this instance, a couple of years ago, it was a businessman on a fiery tirade about reducing the noise that garbage trucks make in the morning. I stood at my doorman station with a hotel security guard and watched the man berate our co-worker at the front desk until the guest finally picked up his briefcase and stomped in our direction.

He passed me and stopped directly in front of Julio, the security guard. “Call me a cab,” the businessman ordered.

This was not Julio’s job, but not wanting to ignore the guest’s request, Julio looked him straight in the eyes and calmly replied, “You’re a cab.”

Julio turned around and walked away as I wandered into the street, waving for the nearest cab and grinning from ear to ear.

Maybe it’s because I’m homesick, or because I’m excited to see evidence that New Yorkers can be impressible, humble beasts, but I can’t look away. This is an appreciation made more poignant given that later this fall, my favorite newspaper will be letting go up to 100 — or eight percent — of its newsroom staff.

If it’s not already part of your routine, head to Metro section each Monday and enjoy. Who knows how long it’ll be an option?

PS: There’s some question as to how rigorously, if at all, the Diary is fact-checked. This seems important, but I read anyway.

via Serious Money in New York, but Chump Change in Greenwich – NYTimes.com.

Filed under: Entertainment, Homesick, Journalism, Media, New York City, New York Times, , , ,

Russia's epic fail — and the people's imminent revolt

A tractor factory in Chelyabinsk in the Soviet...

A tractor factory in Chelyabinsk, Russia. (Image via Wikipedia)

There are few modern nations more depressing than Russia. Crippling alcoholism, barbaric armed forces rituals, woefully corrupt police, rampant bigotry and homophobia, gun-happy journalist killers. Now we can add to that growing list the steady decline of the so-called “monotowns,” one-company factory cities that came to pass under Soviet rule.

According to a biting Times op-ed yesterday, such towns were conjured out of nothing in remote areas, where 20,000 people would be shipped out to make concrete or toothbrushes for the sole factory and employer, which would be charged with providing all other social services.

So what happens now, when such factories are bankrupt, crumbling, and unused? The people — thinking in classically fatalistic Russian fashion that they have no other options for movement or employment — begin to eat grass, consider protesting and, as the Times suggests, risk being brutally repressed by the government.

Here’s Putin’s response to one factory owner’s decision to close:

Prime Minister Putin traveled by helicopter to Pikalevo. Russian crisis management techniques haven’t changed much since the days when czars threw boyars off the Kremlin walls to be torn, limb from limb, by rebellious hoi polloi below. With national television cameras rolling, Mr. Putin berated the local administration, plant managers and the plant’s owner, Oleg Deripaska, formerly Russia’s richest man, whose BaselCement conglomerate is now almost $30 billion in debt. He then ordered them to sign a pledge to reopen the plant. “I did not see you sign!” Mr. Putin barked at Mr. Deripaska. “Come here and sign!” (“And return the pen!” Mr. Putin snapped afterward.)

And if that isn’t enough to ruin your day, the Times goes on to suggest that there are so many of these failed towns and so many of the people don’t realize they could access the state unemployment system, that a snowballing incidencce of widespread chaos is just a matter of time. Add to that the spread of cheap cell phone video and Twitter, and you just might have something truly revolutionary afoot in the motherland. Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: World, , , , , , , , , ,

Pakistan confuse you? Watch this, now

[youtubevid id=”a6T5DeZ9Z4c”]

My friend Adam B. Ellick makes video documentaries for The New York Times. This is his harrowing, heartbreaking story from Swat. If the dimensions of that region’s suffering — and the nature of Pakistan’s problems — remain unclear to you, watch this.

And thanks to Adam for all his hard work.

Filed under: Islam, Journalism, New York Times, Pakistan, Religion, Taliban, , , , ,