The litter in littérateur. Ricky Opaterny on Books, Music, Art, and Sports


Twitter Weekly Updates for 2009-10-30

Filed under: General — Ricky @ 8:18 pm
  • "…the drive to uniqueness and authenticity is what we have in common." [Just an attempt to justify absence of shared experience?] #
  • Attention is one of the most valuable modern resources. If we waste it on frivolous communication, we will have nothing left when we need it #


Twitter Weekly Updates for 2009-10-23

Filed under: General — Ricky @ 8:18 pm
  • "…the even flimsier assumption that we could know with any certainty what was good even for us…." #
  • "…independence is not the essential quality of a mind or personality." #
  • Platon: Immediately after McCain announced his presidental bid, he celebrated in the limo by listening to Abba's "Dancing Queen." #tnyfest #
  • Platon: Mos Def's motto: "Trust few. Fear none. Love all." #tnyfest #
  • Karl Rove to Platon during a shoot: "If you're photographing me, you don't need any advice. You've already made it." #tnyfest #
  • Platon: Immediately after McCain announced his presidential bid, he celebrated in the limo by listening to Abba's "Dancing Queen." #tnyfest #
  • Platon: "I just use the camera as a vehicle to connect with people and experience things." #tnyfest #
  • Listen to Bon Iver's set from last night at the New Yorker Festival #tnyfest including a couple unreleased songs: #
  • Platon: "I shoot film. Digital is rubbish." #tnyfest #
  • No publicists or media types seem to have noted that Obama was reading "Be Quiet, Be Heard" during the campaign #
  • Lots of new books out this week: The Tyranny of Email, Too Big to Fail, What the Dog Saw, Super Freakonomics…. #
  • Why is @mcnallyjackson not displaying the Andrew Sorkin book on the first floor? That should be a no-brainer! in reply to mcnallyjackson #
  • Read up on the BN Nook. When will there be an e-reader with real, built-in, professional fonts? #


The most popular independent bookstores in America (on Twitter)

NFI Research has compiled a list of the independent bookstores with the most Twitter followers. Powell’s of Portland comes in first, by far, with 9,880 followers as of October 13, 2009. New York stores dominate the list, and only one Bay Area store, Booksmith, even makes an appearance on it. This is a sharp reversal of the state of things earlier this decade when notable stores, such as Coliseum and Gotham, were closing in New York, while Cody’s and Book Passage were expanding in San Francisco. A revival of indie bookstores has taken place in New York over the past couple years with successful openings of Idlewild, Greenlight, and Word, among others.

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What was Barack Obama reading during the campaign? “Be Quiet, Be Heard”

Screen shot 2009-10-18 at 6.59.56 PM

According to New Yorker photographer Platon, President Obama had the book Be Quiet, Be Heard: The Paradox of Persuasion by Susan and Peter Glaser on his desk during the campaign last year when Platon shot Obama for the magazine.


Platon delivered this nugget during his talk at the New Yorker Festival this afternoon. Of course, there were several others, as well. When he shot Bill Clinton for Esquire towards the end of Clinton’s Presidency, Platon told Clinton, “Show me the love!” Clinton’s advisers frantically attempted to tell him to not show Platon anything. The President responded, “Shut up. Shut up. I know what he’s talking about,” before delivering the pose that landed on the cover of Esquire. When P.Diddy arrived at Platon’s studio, he told him to cut the Miles Davis record that Platon had on the stereo and put in one of Diddy’s own records. Vladimir Putin is a huge Beatles fan. The three things that Michael Bloomberg said he could not do without on a desert island are “Salma Hayek. Salma Hayek. And Salma Hayek.” One of Platon’s photos helped compel Colin Powell to endorse Obama for President.

MP3 of Platon on snooping through Obama’s desk

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Run This Town (New York Yankees Version)

Filed under: Baseball,General,Music — Tags: , , , , — Ricky @ 6:03 pm

Before the Yankees game on Friday night, the stadium’s PA played a special Yankees version of the Jay-Z song “Run This Town.” Is it just bad or is it so bad it’s good?


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Listen to Bon Iver at the New Yorker Festival, or how bad is the iPhone’s microphone?

I saw Sasha Frere-Jones interview Justin Vernon of Bon Iver as part of the New Yorker Festival last night. After the interview, Vernon played a brief solo set of the following songs. Unfortunately, I didn’t have my MiniDisc recorder with me, and I have yet to acquire a Tascam DR-1. So, I recorded the set with my iPhone, which sounds just about as awful as you would expect. Listen via the player below or download his set here. I’m not sure I got the title of the second song correct, and I couldn’t fine the lyrics online anywhere.


  1. Hazelton
  2. Miss You Can’t (Real title? YouTube)
  3. Flume
  4. Hayward

I have to admit that I wasn’t as taken by Bon Iver’s album as most people I know were. However, I’ll certainly give it another chance after hearing him live. What I found fascinating was how Vernon talked about moving back to Wisconsin and doesn’t really have any interest in living anywhere else. Even after making several declarations of allegiance to the place that I’m from, I’ve left it three times this decade. And even though I intended to return each time, I still always left hoping that I would come back and never leave again. Vernon’s comments about place aren’t anything new, but given my personal history and my recent reading of Wendell Berry’s essay “A Native Hill,” hearing someone consciously commit himself to the place where he’s from, even as his work is expanding the possibility to be elsewhere, was valuable. Berry returned to Kentucky after studying at Stanford and moving to Manhattan, and he writes about his home, “Before, it had been mine by coincidence or accident; now it was mine by choice.”

It’s often bothered me than I don’t know many people who lived away from their hometowns after college and then returned to them. And I think Berry and Vernon are getting at something that I haven’t heard much among the young professional set—the value in having your geography be a set place that you serve rather than a place that simply serves your ambition. For Vernon, returning home to write the Bon Iver record For Emma, Forever Ago made geography almost invisible; place became a given, not a distraction. The artistic freedom that allowed Vernon to write a record unlike any other could only come from geographic restriction. And you can really only limit yourself to a place and know you’re not leaving if you love it, if you commit to and are responsible for it. Back to Berry: “…I never doubted that the world was more important to me than [New York]; and the world would always be most fully and clearly present to me in the place I was fated by birth to know better than any other.”



Can you still watch football?

Filed under: General — Tags: , , , , , , — Ricky @ 10:08 am

Much has been made recently about the link between NFL careers and brain damage. The New York Times has run an excellent series on the subject and Malcolm Gladwell just penned an essay equating football with dog fighting in the New Yorker. I expect that he’ll rehash much of its content for his New Yorker Festival talk today. The main point is that now that we know something about the risks to the brain of playing football, watching the game should not be a morally neutral act, just as watching dog fighting should not be one either.


Does exercise prevent colds?

Filed under: General — Tags: , , , — Ricky @ 9:58 am

The answer is yes and no. Moderate exercise can strengthen your immune system, but running yourself to exhaustion will deplete it.


Twitter Weekly Updates for 2009-10-09

Filed under: General — Ricky @ 8:18 pm
  • Paraphrasing M. Stewart:If political parties funded poly sci depts the way corps fund b-schools, we would consider their research propaganda #
  • This is what Condé Nast got for hiring snake oil salesman–uh, I mean, consul….?! #
  • Are you joking?! The consultants pulled the oldest trick in the book on Condé–profit analysis. Where's that skew graph? #
  • Big sandwich for @joshto at the Parisi Bakery! #
  • "As bright, insecure, and self-loving youngsters determined to win…their careers had peaked when they gained admission into The Firm." #
  • "…corporations turn to strategy when they can't justify their existence in any other way…." #
  • The Economist: "Business schools need to make more room for people who are willing to bite the hands that feed them." #
  • "The so-called soft skills are…the proper focus of an education…. But these skills inevitably accumulate by indirection…." #
  • How come no one suggests that the endowment had grown too large? #


Updike archives going to Harvard

Filed under: Books,General — Ricky @ 8:34 am

No surprises here—John Updike’s archives are going to the Houghton Library at Harvard.

The Management Myth reviewed in the Journal

Philip Delves Broughton, whose book on HBS I wrote about last fall, reviewed Matthew Stewart’s The Management Myth in the Wall Street Journal a couple months back. I’m currently enjoying Stewart’s skewering of business theory after having read his Atlantic article that spawned the book a few months ago. His thesis—that management theory is a false science—should be studied by anyone who has ever thought of employing SWOT, Five Forces, the BCG matrix, or any other fallacious framework.


Twitter Weekly Updates for 2009-10-02

Filed under: General — Ricky @ 8:18 pm
  • What's the point of watching TV if a hilarious show like Parks and Recreation is up for cancellation after only eight episodes? #
  • How did he expect to get the Olympics without healthcare…or healthcare without the Olympics…ugh. #

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