The arc of the New York Times

Stephen Holden profiles Tony Bennett in today’s New York Times. Bennett turns 80 tomorrow. Holden’s profile of Bennett displays several of Holden’s strengths as a writer on popular music; Holden is a knowledgeable writer who has himself worked as an industry executive. Reader William Katz points out that the last sentence of paragraph six of Holden’s story also shows “what the Times has become,” and it’s not pretty:

Careers that last as long and have been as distinguished as Mr. Bennett’s have something to tell us about collective cultural experience over decades. It has been said that Sinatra’s journey from skinny, starry-eyed “Frankie,” strewing hearts and flowers, to the imperious, volatile Chairman of the Board roughly parallels an American loss of innocence. As Sinatra entered his noir period in the mid-1950’s, his romantic faith gave way to a soul-searching existentialism that yielded the most psychologically complex popular music ever recorded. Following a similar arc, the country grew from a nation of hungry dreamers fleeing the Depression and fighting “the good war” into an arrogant empire drunk on power and angry at the failure of the American dream to bring utopia.

Is this Holden’s bid for a column on the Times editorial page?

UPDATE: Reader Jeff Wendt advises us of “more fun with Stephen Holden” available here.


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