See the article in its original context from September 2, 2001 Section Page Buy Reprints View on timesmachine TimesMachine is an exclusive benefit for home delivery and digital subscribers. Some days, Jonathan Franzen wrote in the dark. He did so in a spartan studio on 125th Street in East Harlem, behind soundproof walls and a window of double-paned glass. The blinds were drawn. The lights were off. And Franzen, hunched over his keyboard in a scavenged swivel chair held together with duct tape, wore earplugs, earmuffs and a blindfold. ''You can always find the 'home' keys on your computer,'' he says in an embarrassed whisper, explaining how he managed to type under such constraints. ''They have little raised bumps.'' For Franzen, this is the imagination's price, the arduous means by which he conjures a fictional world and reproduces it on the page. ''It's very, very hard to concentrate,'' he says. ''You have to hold your mind free of all the clichés.'' The days … [Read more...] about Jonathan Franzen’s Big Book
These Two Guys Are Changing How We Think About Fashion
“RULE-BREAKING” IS A PHRASE thrown around in fashion a lot. But who makes these rules? And aren’t rules what fashion is based on? After all, fashion isn’t just the clothes on your back. It’s the form of those clothes at a given moment, adhering to certain codes that define them as forward-thinking, as now, as à la mode. Which often, as on a menu, translates simplistically to a lump of something fancy plopped on top of an existing offering, as opposed to tinkering about with the guts or really changing anything. Rules in fashion are made by the industry: the editors, the designers, the corporations who fund the whole thing. And so, genuine rule-breakers don’t come along that often. Fashion enjoys the status quo. It sells clothes, it makes money. But what if the rules are broken? People have stopped buying clothes with quite the alacrity they used to, and large conglomerates have begun to see their profits slip southward. Designers are fleeing houses after a few short seasons. Plenty … [Read more...] about These Two Guys Are Changing How We Think About Fashion
[ ENCOUNTER ] ; Whose Vision Is It, Anyway?
See the article in its original context from July 17, 1994 Section Page Buy Reprints View on timesmachine TimesMachine is an exclusive benefit for home delivery and digital subscribers. About the Archive This is a digitized version of an article from The Times’s print archive, before the start of online publication in 1996. To preserve these articles as they originally appeared, The Times does not alter, edit or update them. Occasionally the digitization process introduces transcription errors or other problems; we are continuing to work to improve these archived versions. THEY SEEMED, IN PRINCIPLE, LIKE WORTHY ADVERSARIES: Linda Nochlin, the distinguished feminist art historian and critic, a professor of modern art at New York University whose thought-provoking essays on women as depicted in 19th-century painting have pioneered a new way of looking at familiar works by Courbet, Degas and other artists; Thierry Mugler, the Paris fashion designer, admired … [Read more...] about [ ENCOUNTER ] ; Whose Vision Is It, Anyway?
Lonnie Holley, the Insider’s Outsider
One night in October, just a couple blocks from Harvard Square, a young crowd gathered at a music space called the Sinclair to catch a performance by Bill Callahan, the meticulous indie-rock lyricist who has been playing to bookish collegiate types since the early ‘90s. Callahan’s opening act, Lonnie Holley, had been playing to similar audiences for two years. A number of details about Holley made this fact surprising: He was decades older than just about everyone in the club and one of the few African-Americans. He says he grew up the seventh of 27 children in Jim Crow-era Alabama, where his schooling stopped around seventh grade. In his own, possibly unreliable telling, he says the woman who informally adopted him as an infant eventually traded him to another family for a pint of whiskey when he was 4. Holley also says he dug graves, picked trash at a drive-in, drank too much gin, was run over by a car and pronounced brain-dead, picked cotton, became a father at 15 (Holley now has 15 … [Read more...] about Lonnie Holley, the Insider’s Outsider
When Everyone Can Be ‘Queer,’ Is Anyone?
Earlier this year, Vice published an essay that posed the question “Can Straight People Be Queer?” The article includes an image from Jaden Smith’s Facebook page of the musician looking petulant in a skirt, alongside the caption “My mood when they try to hate.” It also makes reference to the model Lily Rose Depp, who once compared sexuality to dietary habits: “You could think peanut butter is your favorite food for, 5,000 years and then be like, ‘I actually like burgers better,’ you know?” Vice, unsurprisingly, never settled on an answer, but a reader captured the article’s sentiment in a succinct and sarcastic comment, writing, “Queer is SO HOT right now.” The speed with which modern society has adapted to accommodate the world’s vast spectrum of gender and sexual identities may be the most important cultural metamorphosis of our time. Facebook, which can be seen as a kind of social census, now offers nearly 60 different gender options, including “questioning” and “bigender” — or … [Read more...] about When Everyone Can Be ‘Queer,’ Is Anyone?
Edward Enninful’s Unlikely Journey, From Ghana to Hanover Square
A rarity in a business like fashion, where fairy-tale transports are most often town cars, the story of Edward Enninful , recently named the next editor of British Vogue , began on the London tube. Born in Ghana and raised in Ladbroke Grove, an unglamorous neighborhood in west London, Mr. Enninful was discovered in 1989 on the Hammersmith and City Line by the fashion stylist Simon Foxton. It was not necessarily a fashion sighting. Mr. Foxton recalled Mr. Enninful in those early days in an ever-present duffel coat and National Health-style glasses, the arms of which would occasionally be mended with tape. Still, Mr. Foxton said in a recent interview: “He must have had something about him. I don’t stop that many people.” Mr. Enninful went home and asked his mother’s permission to model for Mr. Foxton. He had to. He was all of 16. Duly, if reluctantly, permitted, the teenager appeared in a shoot done by Mr. Foxton and the photographer Nick Knight, for i-D magazine, the … [Read more...] about Edward Enninful’s Unlikely Journey, From Ghana to Hanover Square