Tag Archives: New Yorker

Isadora – uncinctured

1900-1901 Getty Images: Photographer Ullstein Bild 

I can’t resist calling attention to this 1927 New Yorker article on Isadora Duncan written while she was still alive. It came to me in a David Remnick newsletter with the theme “Bohemians.” If only I had asked my mother, who would have been 28 years old, what she and her mother thought of Isadora then. Janet Flanner wrote:

A Paris couturier recently said woman’s modern freedom in dress is largely due to Isadora. She was the first artist to appear uncinctured, barefooted and free. She arrived like a glorious bounding Minerva in the midst of a cautious corseted decade. The clergy, hearing of (though supposedly without ever seeing) her bare calf, denounced it as violently as if it had been golden…

She has had friends. What she needed was an entire government. She had checkbooks. Her scope called for a national treasury. It is not for nothing that she is hailed by her first name only as queens have been, were they great Catherines or Marie Antoinettes.  

As you read it, listen to Chopin and Strauss, then watch one of the videos. Or look at ‘The Revolutionary,” (to Scriabin, 1923) where she used gravity (movement with weight) to foment both a political and an aesthetic revolution.

Imagine watching Isadora dance in chiffon gauze while you, like my grandmother, are laced in a corset.

Allen Toussaint: joy can change us

The late Allen Toussaint “had a sweet voice, gentle and worn in places, like the skin of a velveteen rabbit,” writes Amanda Petrusich in a New Yorker piece titled The Gladness of Allen Toussaint

For a glimpse of his voice, this interview.

What is his connection to a Princeton -centric blog? I had the joy of meeting him, once, and became an instant fan.  He inspires me even posthumously, through the words of others. Here, Petrusich:

It’s easy—nearly satisfying—to think of pain as transformative. But Toussaint’s work suggests a different way. Joy can change us, too—that’s evident in his songs. See something miraculous, and watch yourself reappear on the other side, different, better. There is so much gratitude in this music: a true gladness. What a thing to hold in mind. What a thing to let yourself follow, all the way down to the grave.

Or, as Odetta said As we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”

In this Advent season, let’s submit ourselves to the transformative powers of . .. joy!

Photo from New Yorker: Allen Toussaint, in northern Spain, in 2009.CREDITPHOTOGRAPH BY ADRIAN RUIZ DE HIERRO/EPA

Jargon is power.

When I was a dance critic, in the ’70s and ’80s, my job was to translate jargon so that non-dancers would understand.

When I was a freelance reporter, during the same time period, I had to use jargon to convince big city editors to believe I knew what I was doing.

When I was a business writer, 1986 to 2006 plus, my job was to translate all kinds of business topics so that non-MBAs would understand.

It’s all about keeping it simple, says John Lanchester in an article in the current New Yorker, entitled Money Talks: Learning the language of finance.


Adopt the jargon of the field you want to enter. Like a patois, you are believable when — to an editor — the first thing you ask is “are you on deadline?”

Don’t accept the jargon
of the field you don’t know about. If you see it, the author is lazy.

Full disclosure: Many an editor has blue penciled my own less-than-clear copy.