Skip to content

Top Hat & Cane

Best. DVD. Ever.

It arrived last week. I started seeing the ads in the magazine itself a few months before the holidays—wide-eyed and curious, but generally dismissive … an 8-DVD-ROM set of the entire archive of New Yorker magazines, from the first issue in 1925, to early last year. Every page, every ad, every cover, every cartoon, for $100 ($61 on Amazon). Who would want, or need such an excess? Secretly and silently, I did.

Recent travels in the Pacific Northwest for fun and friends found us in our host’s Portland home-office … where I spot The Complete New Yorker set on their bookshelf.

“Oh my G-d—you have it!” I exclaim, with what was probably a little too much excitement. I lower my voice to a level of grave seriousness. “How is it?”

One half of Team Portland looks at me as if I’ve just asked if ice cream tastes good. “It’s EVERY New Yorker,” she replies slowly. I nod silently, understanding. Five minutes later the online order was in, and I was happily thumbing (digitally) through their copy, safe in the knowledge that my very own set was on the way.

Despite the obvious (yet understandable) missing feature of universally-searchable text (the cross-referenced article abstracts are searchable, not the texts themselves), the set is a marvel of design and substance. Every page, every front and back cover, scanned and perusable—as if your hometown library’s microfiche machine had a love child with Adobe Acrobat. And who wouldn’t pay 60 bucks for every New Yorker COVER, let alone every issue, searchable and indexed in a database worthy of the Library of Alexandria? The short stories alone contained in the 8 DVDs will take me years to get through. Just the poetry would be an anthology of epic proportions. So I am a happy camper, starting my playtime with the set by randomly searching composers of the 20th century and reading reviews of their New York premieres. How about a 1953 issue reviewing (glowingly) the NY Phil premiere of the William Walton Violin Concerto, with soloist John Corigliano (Sr.)? It’s gems like this you stumble upon, just randomly punching buttons on your keyboard.

For those with the yen for the visual, there are the advertisements, arguably the best part. Who can resist staring at a deliciously mid-century page, describing the virtues of Pinesbridge Farm Smoked Turkey Party Soup (“Huntsman Style!”). And for the truly heady there is an interface designed just for you: a button to skip you from cartoon to cartoon, throughout every issue. (Note: the cartoons from those early issues? Not so funny. If you think the current cartooning is inscrutable, you should check out the offerings from 1925…)

I’ve put in only a few hours of exploration so far, so there’s much procrastinating to go. Next up will be a thorough perusal of every Kenyon poem they ever published. I then plan on making my way through all contributions by Stanislav Lem.

You’ll find my rotting bones here, at this computer desk, where I expired reaching for DVD #7…

Post to Twitter Post to Digg Post to Facebook Post to StumbleUpon

Post a Comment

Your email is never published nor shared. Required fields are marked *