I’m walking down my street in the 18th this week and I feel a tap on my shoulder (something that has not happened to me in 57 years in France) – “Monsieur, Monsieur, excuse me, but…” I turn, it’s my newslady, from whom I buy 4.40 E’s worth of news every morning, “I’m so sorry, but I forgot to give to the supplement that goes with the International Herald Tribune today.” “Ah, what is it?” say I, immediately suspicious that it’s one of those worthless Sunday NYT things that has a few real articles, a lot of fluff and so many watch, jewelry and European property ads that I know that for much of the world, there has been no Great Recession. An “agenda.” Well that doesn’t help, but she’s so earnest, I promise to pick it up that day or the next. And frankly I forgot all about it. Until I walked into the news shop the next day to get my fix – “Here, Monsieur, I’m so sorry.” “Pas grave, Madame, pas grave.” As I leave, I look for the nearest Vigipirate trash bag to toss it in but get distracted by the bums on the street trolling for cigarettes, money or restaurant tickets; they know not to approach me but bock my route anyway. Get home, toss it on the floor, ignore for three days.
And then I pick it up, hoping to clear up the debris for my wife’s arrival and wow, this “thing” is first rate. This “thing,’ edited by Serge Schmemann, whom you may recall won a Pulitzer and an Emmy and whose byline graced the front pages of the Times for years, has several simply wonderful articles on the theme of “Shifting Power.” The article by Matthieu Ricard, son BTW of Jean-Francois Revel (ring a bell)), an ex-cell-geneticist, now a Monk in Nepal, is the most sane article I’ve ever read on global warming; an article by Katrin Bennhold, another European transplanted to America and the NYT, on the FB Generation reveals such technological generation gaps between herself (36 yo) and students at her German high school (19 yo) (not to mention their parents and grandparents) you despair; and a panel of folks who are not your usual talk-show or op-ed folks discussing America’s Lost Power (or maybe not) are intelligent and way above the level of discourse now polluting American politics.
I can only hope they give old Serge the money and support to continue doing these; this is what the print folks (including me) should be doing; serious analysis, thinking and presenting. To read these articles you have to go here and click on each one of the authors. Sorry. That technology they haven't mastered.