Allow me to open by crediting Mike Miliard for “Where has all the Gonzo Gone?” (News and Features, July 25). In the first two pages of the article, Miliard managed to capture the quintessence of Hunter S. Thompson’s lifeblood. He also took a distinctive look at a somewhat hackneyed subject in a day and age when it seems like everyone who once brushed elbows with Dr. Gonzo is writing a book about the event. The piece was well-researched and eloquently written.
But my fancy quickly ebbed when I turned to the second page and saw Matt Taibbi’s sheepish grin, alongside a comparison with Thompson. I was even more chagrined by Taibbi’s faux assurances that he’s not trying to usurp with his drivel the fallen mantle of a truly inspirational author.
Taibbi claims he’s unique. He prattles on about how “embarrassed” he is each time a book critic or reporter likens him with Thompson. Yet all these assertions seem a bit contrived when Rolling Stone’s Jann Wenner has done just about everything in his power to connect Taibbi’s destiny with Thompson’s legacy. This forced linkage was never clearer than when Thompson’s mug graced the September 2007 cover of the magazine along with a campaign-trail article Taibbi attempted to write in the good doctor’s voice. Instead of recreating the Prada of prose, he penned his own cheap knock-off akin to something you’d expect to find at a sidewalk bizarre.
Sure, Taibbi’s writing looks real to the undiscerning eye. For the rest of us, it’s nothing but a sad reminder of the piss-poor quality of product produced by brazen, unabashed scam artists. While imitation is often considered the deepest form of flattery, Taibbi’s writing does a tap dance on the still-fresh grave of a true American rebel. It’s a shame Miliard couldn’t see through his despicable charade.
Saratoga Springs, New York
IN THE EYES OF THE BEHOLDER
Many thanks for Greg Cook’s frank and insightful article about the rise of the Peabody Essex Museum. (See “Peabody Rising,” News and Features, July 25.) I have one comment to offer about comparing the exhibitions of different museums. When organizing theme shows with numerous loans, the playing field is not level. For example, the MFA finds it easier to secure loans than PEM because it has a broader, deeper collection that allows it to make reciprocal loans down the line. In the case of “Painting Summer in New England,” the checklist changed dramatically because of the strenuous loan process.
Local institutions, including the MFA, were terrific colleagues, but other large museums did not always oblige. There were at least six paintings by Hopper that we requested from museums across the country. The loans were denied, and all the paintings appeared in the Hopper show at the MFA the following year. The National Gallery was pretty sniffy in relaying its “excuse” for not participating: we don’t lend to theme shows.
Cook remembers “Painting Summer” as eye candy, but he may not realize that preparing, installing, and writing labels for the exhibition was not sweet and easy.
EDITOR’S NOTE The author of this letter was guest curator of the “Painting Summer” exhibit.
TEXT OF THE WEEK
Recently we asked our readers to text in their thoughts on the best new pop CD they’ve heard. Here’s what one person had to say:
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