Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Photo Caption Identifies Woman (“left”) But Not Accompanying Thing

Columbia Journalism Review
24 May 2016

By Gerald Eskenazi

When you work for The New York Times, you become immersed in its history and its fabled writing and writers. You connect to the Pulitzer Prizes, to the war correspondents, to the drama critics. And, of course, to the urban legends.

In my 44 years at the Times, I discovered a host of newsroom myths, virtually all of them riffing off the paper’s perceived pomposity.

There was the story from the ’60s of a particular fellow in the paper’s sports department who clearly wasn’t like everyone else. He had a certain savoir faire, a mustache reminiscent of a 1930s movie dandy, and he used expressions like “What the deuce!” and “Gracious!” What the heck was he doing in the down-and-dirty sports department?

Here’s what I was told. He had been one of the editors on the “picture desk”—the spot where captions were written. One day he wrote the following under a photo:

“Mrs. John Jacob Astor, left, and her prize geranium.”

Well, since there were no other humans in the photo, who else would that be but Mrs. A? Identifying her as being on the left….So, he got demoted to sports.

I mentioned this story recently to a former colleague and I was told, no, it was not Mrs. Astor. It wasn’t even a geranium. My colleague insisted the mustachioed fellow had written “Mrs. Roosevelt, left, and her prize ginkgo.”

And then still another old-timer chimed in: It wasn’t a flower. But it was a society matron, left, and her horse.

I checked the files. No, nothing like that, for any lady, had ever been published in the Times, as far as I could find. I also couldn’t find anyone who claimed to have actually seen the offending caption. The story is probably baloney. […]

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Chinese Corned Beef Sold in Africa Is Human Meat

Xinhua [China]
18 May 2016

LUSAKA, May 17 (Xinhua) -- A top Chinese official on Tuesday dismissed reports in Zambian media that China has been selling human meat as food in Africa.

Reports on social media and a local newspaper quoted an unnamed Zambian woman living in China warning people to stop buying Chinese corned beef.

The woman claimed that Chinese beef companies were collecting dead human bodies, marinating them, packing them in tins labeled as corned beef and sending them to Africa. […]

Thursday, May 12, 2016

“It’s time for carrots around the world to unite!”

Bruce McCormack, Tokyo Notes and Anecdotes: Natsukashii (Victoria, B.C.: Trafford Publishing, 2000), 112.