For the Times, They are a’ Changin’

Posted by mwallach on February 28, 2011 in New To You, New Yorkers |

Dear That’s Life,

It is the end of two eras. Randy Cohen’s column entitled ‘The Ethicist’ which has been a staple in The New York Times Magazine for over a decade has come to a close. Even more interesting or upsetting is that the ‘On Language’ column where William Safire found his home for years and which was recently taken over by Ben Zimmer is coming to an end as well. Next thing I know, “Spider Man the Musical” will win 10 Tony’s and nothing in the world will ever make sense again. It is pretty unusual for one publication to lose two incredibly popular features in one week, but let’s just say, I have heard it happen before. (Ouch.)

A big believer in the ‘less is more’ principle, it is possible that a smaller and more concise publication will in fact yield a much better product. The Magazine underwent a major overhaul a number of years ago in which its actual size, and even the size of its font, shrunk. As a NYT Magazine devotee and because I am not averse to change, I was willing to take the new and improved weekly insert for a test drive while keeping an open mind. Letters poured into the magazine either in support of or against the new format. Honestly, it did not bother me either way. Change is often good and when the particular change does not interfere with my life or my enjoyment one way or the other, that’s even better. I am confident that regarding the changes at the Magazine, they were done with careful consideration and its readers will be the beneficiaries of innovative and exciting features that will only further enhance my shabbos morning reading. I wish I could say the same about other publications undergoing major transitions as well.

I often try and teach my children that ‘less is more.’ In planning my second daughter’s bat mitzvah, I have been scaling back her grandiose plans and her attempt to take over the world. She’s heard the word ‘no’ before and she’s going to hear it often during the planning stages of this event. Even sorting through pictures for her montage, she will learn the words ‘less is more,’ since this video is not meant to be a feature length film.

My eldest daughter was recently working on a project for which she needed a baby picture of herself with either me or my husband. I found a couple and brought them with me in the car, which gave the rest of the peanut gallery an opportunity to look them over. My children were less impressed by the changes in the way I looked (they did not comment one bit – go me!) but were taken aback by the changes in my husband.

“You look so young here, Daddy,” was one comment he got and had it only ended there, I think we would have been fine. “And your glasses, Daddy,” said another. “They were huge!” Okay, I thought, still no harm; no foul. Leave it to my kids, however, to press on. “And you had SO much more hair then, Daddy!” exclaimed another. And that, my friends, was the breaking point.

Before we could even answer, however, my soon-to-be bat mitzvah girl shouted out, “But,‘less is more!’” she said, proud of herself, grinning from ear to ear. “Right, Mommy?!”

I smiled in agreement. “‘Less is more,’” I said, except of course, when less, is just less.


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