The Wednesday Curator – 10/22/14

October 21, 2014

Benjamin Crowninshield Bradlee died on Tuesday afternoon at his home in Washington. He was 93.

Many people tell us:  “From those to whom much is given, much is expected.” Mr. Bradlee was blessed in many ways, and he delivered, and then some! I never met this journalistic giant, but I rely on good friends who knew him well for confirmation that I missed out, big time!

Having contact with charismatic people is one of life’s guilty pleasures. We don’t talk about those situations, to avoid pomposity or self-aggrandizement, but we know they’re special circumstances. I’m blessed to have some contact with charisma—albeit on a smaller stage—and think I know how hard such a loss must be for those in Mr. Bradlee’s ambit. May his memory be for a blessing, and when someone writes a really good book about leadership, his name needs to be on Chapter One.

( I do have two confessions:  First, I do have a striped, Turnbull & Asser shirt with a white collar and French cuffs, and when I wear it Mr. Bradlee comes to mind. Second, I visited a friend for lunch at the Post in early 2013. Arriving at the building I saw the backs of three older gentlemen leaving the building in fine suits, seemingly off for a long lunch. I chose to assume one of them was Mr. Bradlee, and chose not to seek any confirmation.)

For good obituaries, read Ben Bradlee, Legendary Washington Post Editor, Dies at 93 from the Washington Post (by Robert G. Kaiser), Ben Bradlee, Editor Who Directed Watergate Coverage, Dies at 93 from the evil empire up north, aka the New York Times (by Marilyn Berger), or listen to National Public Radio’s remembrance, Ben Bradlee, Who Led Washington Post To New Heights, Dies At 93 by David Folkenflik.

Doctors Tell All – and It’s Bad by Meghan O’Rourke for the November issue of The Atlantic focuses on a depressing set of circumstances. Read it for yourself, to better understand the world of hurt we’re in, and how the Affordable Care Act only takes a small step in the right direction. (Please do bear in mind the fact that we are where we are because we neglected a situation for decades, a set of circumstances we will surely see, again and again, in coming years.)

This piece from the November issue of the Harvard Business Review, The Numbers in Jeff Bezos’s Head, by Daniel McGinn, resonated with me. Jeff Bezos gets lots of bad press—amazing for a guy who owns the Washington Post—and some/much of it may be well-deserved. That said, I found the piece interesting and informative. (For more on Mr. Bezos and, read Amazon’s Monopsony Is Not O.K. by Paul Krugman for the New York Times on October 19, and the annotated response from Marc Andreesen, Netscape founder and Silicon Valley guru.)

From the food department, I offer you, first, The Crowds vs. The Critics, sharing some thoughts about the how the Internet has changed the world of food reviews. The piece was written by Hannah Goldfield for The New Yorker’s October 13 issue. Second, as regular readers know, I’m a big Michael Ruhlman fan. On September 22 he posted Last Meal, an exceptional essay about last meals. (Alright, alright, I know you want food porn. Here, from Bon Appétit and Andrew Knowlton, is The Best New Restaurants in America 2014. Readers, if you’ve been to one of these fine establishments, I expect demand a report!)

And, finally, here’s Festival Dispatch:  Life Lessons from Larry David, by Alexandra Schwartz, also from The New Yorker on October 13. Larry David and life lessons? Really?

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