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The most emailed New York Times article ever
January 20, 2011 10:43 AM   Subscribe

Like many of the ibex farms sprouting up across the northeastern United States, Yael offers an intensive Chinese-language immersion course. The most emailed New York Times article ever.
posted by gottabefunky (59 comments total) 57 users marked this as a favorite

 


I.. don't get it.
posted by odinsdream at 10:46 AM on January 20, 2011 [4 favorites]


I call fake. Not nearly enough boomer angst.
posted by chavenet at 10:47 AM on January 20, 2011


Is this an effort to fabricate an article that is the pinnacle of SEO? Or is this a story about a real person?
posted by filthy light thief at 10:48 AM on January 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


It's a parody of the New York Times.
posted by Solon and Thanks at 10:48 AM on January 20, 2011 [3 favorites]


(I see that this is tagged as "satire," so I'll go with option A, by way of pulling in every stereotypical catch-word from NYT into an actual article.)
posted by filthy light thief at 10:50 AM on January 20, 2011


It's a spot on parody of the Times.
posted by barrett caulk at 10:51 AM on January 20, 2011 [29 favorites]


“It’s entirely conceivable that a dog could learn simple computer functions,” says Dr. Walker Brown, the director of the Center for Canine Cognition, a research facility in Maryland. “Word processing, e-mailing, even surfing the web: for many dogs, the future is already here.”

tHis Guy dOe7nst no woof tHe fu*ck heeh is takling aBoUT

sinG5ed,
--a person
posted by Potomac Avenue at 10:52 AM on January 20, 2011 [28 favorites]


Fake? That's not what all those folks who forwarded it to me said!

I wonder when Snopes will have to weigh in?
posted by TedW at 10:53 AM on January 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


As someone who frequently feels stalked by the New York Times style section ("Twenty-somethings find apartments on Craigslist with people they like! Wait, hold the presses -- they also can food!"), this is awesome. And almost as painful as the real thing.
posted by jhc at 10:54 AM on January 20, 2011 [2 favorites]


It's a spot on parody of the Times.

Yes, though it could use some more baby boomer self-righteousness.
posted by Solon and Thanks at 10:55 AM on January 20, 2011 [6 favorites]


Brilliant. Took me way too long to realise though. The smugness and fawning are just so spot-on accurate that you're willing to take the iPad-using dogs and Catskills ibex farms for granted.
posted by TheophileEscargot at 10:57 AM on January 20, 2011 [7 favorites]


Williams, Anna's last name, is a portmanteau of her parents' surnames.
posted by nasreddin at 10:57 AM on January 20, 2011 [14 favorites]


This sentence is a joy to say: "After a Deuteronomy-friendly dinner of figs, unleavened bread and honey-drizzled ibex, she practices her Mandarin."
posted by boo_radley at 11:05 AM on January 20, 2011 [7 favorites]


The Catskills ibex farm is owned by an unlikely pair of friends: Steven Jones, an African-American former police officer from Camden, New Jersey,

Well, that explains the other post about Camden going to hell. All the cops have left to raise ibex.
posted by spicynuts at 11:07 AM on January 20, 2011 [5 favorites]


the real world needs more ibex farms with chinese-language immersion.
posted by oonh at 11:10 AM on January 20, 2011


now that is how you do parody
posted by pyramid termite at 11:13 AM on January 20, 2011 [3 favorites]


What does it mean that I just emailed that to all of my friends?
posted by isnotchicago at 11:20 AM on January 20, 2011 [2 favorites]


Brilliant.
posted by killdevil at 11:20 AM on January 20, 2011


This is just goofy. I love it.
posted by KokuRyu at 11:28 AM on January 20, 2011


hold the presses -- they also can food

They can also food.

Please harder next time.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 11:40 AM on January 20, 2011 [5 favorites]


I realized I scan to fast nowadays, I didn't register the part of teaching her dog to use the ipad. Totally lost the WTF moment.
posted by uni verse at 11:48 AM on January 20, 2011


What does it mean that I just emailed that to all of my friends?
I only email ironically.
posted by uni verse at 11:49 AM on January 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


Maybe jhc meant that they engage in the act of canning, preserving food in sealed cans.
posted by Pyry at 11:50 AM on January 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


I, like an increasing number of American Internet users, find this hilarious.
posted by neroli at 11:50 AM on January 20, 2011 [4 favorites]


Cool. I know her mother Leslie. We met at an ashram. She was on sabbatical to recharge and find enlightenment as was I after a long year organizing We Are the World. We lost touch after I returned to the US to start up my dot com company and then retire to teach yoga and tend to my vineyard and olive grove. It's nice to see that her daughter is headed for the life of enlightenment and fulfillment Leslie so desperately sought, but could never quite manage to capture, after the end of her modeling career.
posted by caddis at 12:00 PM on January 20, 2011 [7 favorites]


It's a spot on parody of the Times.

Almost. Tone, subject, style and range of focus are flawless. What it's missing, though, is an enthusiastic soundbite from Robert Thompson of Syracuse University. No way would a Times trend reporter file an article mentioning Twitter, canine iPad use and Borscht Belt comedy without getting Thompson to tie it all together.

"I can pithily connect Chinese-speaking ibexes to tweeting Portuguese water dogs in fewer references than it takes Seth Macfarlane to make a Justine Bateman gag," Mr. Thompson explains. "I once explicated blogging culture in Iran using nothing but Stephen Baldwin films. I'm '4' on the pre-programmed Times newsdesk speed dial."
posted by gompa at 12:06 PM on January 20, 2011 [7 favorites]


I guess I don't read the Times enough. It read like Markov generated text - the sentences made sense but had no relation to each other. And while it may be spot on it's not funny in itself.
posted by GuyZero at 12:07 PM on January 20, 2011 [5 favorites]


My first thought, before I realized it was satire, was "these people sound like characters from a John Irving novel." In other words, the most uninteresting interesting people in the world.
posted by Terminal Verbosity at 12:16 PM on January 20, 2011 [2 favorites]


GuyZero was critical of the post's merit: "I guess I don't read the Times enough. It read like Markov generated text - the sentences made sense but had no relation to each other. And while it may be spot on it's not funny in itself."

Other Metafilter users compared it to "Starbucks," "The Wire," and "other popular things white college-educated people like."
posted by explosion at 12:17 PM on January 20, 2011 [11 favorites]


It took me way too long to realize that was a spoof. Saramago? Vegan brownies? Obama fundraisers? Spot on.
posted by hepta at 12:19 PM on January 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


I was totally believing it, slowly curdling with disgust, till I got to the end and I realized there was no actual topic to the article. Very well done.
posted by Edgewise at 12:32 PM on January 20, 2011 [2 favorites]


(yael is Hebrew for “Nubian ibex”)

What's a Nubian?
posted by Joe in Australia at 12:35 PM on January 20, 2011 [6 favorites]


On the internet, nobody knows you're not a dog.
posted by tzikeh at 12:36 PM on January 20, 2011 [2 favorites]


It's missing a paragraph, dripping with schadenfreude, about how the legal bubble has popped and all those people who thought they were better than you because they were going to law school are now saddled with soul-crushing student debt loads with no employment in sight and who's laughing now, you corporate sheep???
posted by enlarged to show texture at 12:46 PM on January 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


I have always wondered who e-mails those "most e-mailed" Times articles and who the recipients are. Presumably the people who would be interested in them already read the Times.
posted by Tin Man at 12:52 PM on January 20, 2011


I was totally believing it, slowly curdling with disgust

Exactly. I didn't realize it was a parody because like most NY Times profiles, I start with genuine interest in the opening sentence and then quickly begin to loathe the subject by the second.
posted by yeti at 12:54 PM on January 20, 2011


I love that Anna's travels have taken her to such far-off places as "Uganda, Bangladesh and the Mississippi Delta."
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 1:07 PM on January 20, 2011 [4 favorites]


Joe: Shut the f*ck up! Now... Vader, he's a spiritual brother, y'know, down with the force and all that good shit. Then this cracker, Skywalker, gets his hands on a light saber and the boy decides he's gonna run the fuckin' universe; gets a whole clan of whites together. And they go and bust up Vader's hood, the Death Star. Now what the fuck do you call that?
posted by leotrotsky at 1:10 PM on January 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


Reading this article and the ensuing commentary here on MeFi reminds me of the time I went to see a "Best of Animated Shorts" film down at the repertory cinema.

It was not all that bad - I'm not all artsy intelligent but I enjoy a witty cartoon that's not your typical Tom and Jerry-type sequence - but one of the shorts that I saw was about 6 minutes of some guy making weird noises and sounds, accompanied by some animated gloop moving on the screen.

"Boo." "Baa". "Beep". "Ooga".

I didn't get it. In fact, it thought it was pretty dumb.

But a group of people in front of me were laughing their heads off. "Brilliant!" They said. "Wonderful!"

"BooBepBooHooGeeWoooo"
"HAHAHAHAHAHAHA!! Amazing!"

I want to laugh too! But I have to say, I don't get the hilarity of the article.

Maybe I'll read the comments, and maybe I'll read the article again, and then maybe I'll get it and then I'll be hip.

I feel like Dr. Evil trying to show his son Scott that he's hip by dancing the Macarena.
Tuk-a-tuk-a-tuk-a-tuk-a-tuk-a-tuk-a.....

posted by bitteroldman at 1:29 PM on January 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


Hey! I know this girl! I helped her write admissions essays for high schools back when she was still in eighth grade. "I'm gonna tell you something that has bad words, so don't tell on me," I said, coaching her at 826NYC in Brooklyn. "You're just gonna have to be okay with a shitty first draft. Write something terrible, and then you can fix it from there."

I was then immediately distracted by the sixth grader to my left, who had pulled an entire half turkey from his backpack and was mowing down on a big old drumstick. Oh, how we laughed.

*Please note: every word of the above is true, except that I substituted a fictional girl from this fictional NYT story for a real girl from real life. I hope she got in to the high school of her dreams.
posted by lauranesson at 1:37 PM on January 20, 2011 [2 favorites]


TL;DR: Teen ibex farming in Mandarin dog-blogged from Yiddish coffee house. Great scoop, NYT... if we were still in 2006!! Snore.
posted by No-sword at 2:03 PM on January 20, 2011 [8 favorites]


i usually dont go to the awl but this was worth it: "counters Anna's mother, who has accompanied her daughter on long trips to Uganda, Bangladesh and the Mississippi Delta."
posted by liza at 2:29 PM on January 20, 2011


Like many of the ibex farms sprouting up across the northeastern United States, Yael offers an intensive Chinese-language immersion course.

Read that and assumed an "ibex farm" was some sort of company that churned out mutual fund managers or SEO content writers, while at the same time thinking "isn't an ibex a llama or some shit?".
posted by AceRock at 2:37 PM on January 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


I want to laugh too! But I have to say, I don't get the hilarity of the article.

Do you read many NYT style articles of the sort that get e-mailed around a lot? It's hard to appreciate a parody if you aren't familiar with what's being parodied. Otherwise I'd chalk it up to different senses of humor.
posted by Solon and Thanks at 2:50 PM on January 20, 2011


You nailed it boo. That Deuteronomy line is pure poetry. I want to make it my new voice mail greeting.
posted by jng at 3:18 PM on January 20, 2011


The best parody of a NYT Style section article is a NYT Style section article.

This didn't do it for me, but I liked the idea of it.
posted by vincele at 3:19 PM on January 20, 2011


I want to laugh too! But I have to say, I don't get the hilarity of the article.

Do you read many NYT style articles of the sort that get e-mailed around a lot? It's hard to appreciate a parody if you aren't familiar with what's being parodied. Otherwise I'd chalk it up to different senses of humor.


Jack Shafer has a whole series at Slate about bogus NYT style/trend pieces. Here's one about dudes with cats. His evisceration of the journalism (or lack thereof) displayed is almost as funny as the original article, which already reads like an unintentional self-parody. Like an Onion writer magically switching bodies with a NYT reporter and trying to earnestly write an article, but he can't unlearn everything he's been doing for 5 years. Or something like that.
posted by jng at 3:25 PM on January 20, 2011 [3 favorites]


How to write a bogus trend story

Start with something you wish were on the rise. State that rise as a fact. Allow that there are no facts, surveys, or test results to support such a fact.
While waiting to hear back from the Ivy League colleges she’s hoping to attend, the seventeen-year-old senior at one of Manhattan’s most exclusive private schools is doing research for a paper about organic farming in the West Bank, whipping up a batch of vegan brownies, and, like an increasing number of American teenagers, teaching her dog to use an iPad.

Use and reuse the word seems.
A member of a generation that seems to have lost interest in the idle pleasures of sleepaway camp, Anna has spent the last three summers working on an ibex farm in the Catskills

Collect anecdotes and sprinkle liberally. Drift from your original point as far as you can to collect other data points. Add liberally.
He’s helping Anna organize an event to raise money for her greatest passion: sustainable ibex farming. . . . Andersen thinks teenagers today are too focused on their minds, often at the expense of their physical well-being. . . . Like many of the ibex farms sprouting up across the northeastern United States, Yael offers an intensive Chinese-language immersion course. . . . After three summers in the Catskills, Anna Williams has also become an authority on Borscht Belt comedy. . . . Until then, she’s got her hands full: José Saramago just learned how to use Twitter.

Finish with an upbeat quotation like "My cat takes priority over the new relationship. Realistically, unless there's something absolutely amazing about [the woman I'm dating], he wins."
“Look, it’s New York,” Anthony DiPaolo says. “I welcome the new blood.”
posted by jng at 3:37 PM on January 20, 2011 [4 favorites]


So one Sunday after first perusing the style section and then reading the other sections, we realized that in fact every section of the NYT is a style section. "Business styles." "Travel styles." "Opinion styles." Everyone is preening and posing. The NYT itself acknowledges this in that they have a blog called "life as a runway."
posted by mai at 4:57 PM on January 20, 2011 [4 favorites]


This is the best thing I've seen on the internet.
posted by serazin at 7:39 PM on January 20, 2011


For perspective: Edgar A. Poe's "How to Write Blackwoods Article". Am I wrong to wish that NYT writers would report on being buried alive, or stuck within a giant bell?
posted by LucretiusJones at 8:57 PM on January 20, 2011


"Leslie Wilhelm, an editor of style and fashion books, and Walter Gilliam, a partner at a boutique investment firm, love that they can see their daughter often. (Williams, Anna's last name, is a portmanteau of her parents' surnames.)"

LOLOCAUST
posted by bardic at 9:59 PM on January 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


Am I wrong to wish that NYT writers would report on being buried alive, or stuck within a giant bell?
... "Ugh, tell me about it," says Chloe, a PR assistant to a "green" hedge fund. "It's getting harder to find a guy who doesn't repose by night within cool, curved bronze."

Although no hard figures are available, experts concur with Chloe's analysis. "In the past six months, I've seen more wretched clients who yearn only to drown the clamor of their guilt in blissful cacophony than I had in my entire career up to that point," notes realtor Jill Lee.

But what do the bell-dwellers themselves have to say about their new lifestyle? We went to an unmarked grave, silent and still on a deserted, moonlit moor, to find out.

"Mad! Mad, they call me!" raved Nicholas Amontillado, whose blog Look Into This F*cking Tintinnabulatory Abyss is a must-read for fellow "clappers." "But who, I ask you, is truly mad? The man who lives his life deaf to the whispering of the passions, and finally dies, empty and gray? Or the man for whom sensation is so powerful that he hears even the petals tumbling from a withered, long-forgotten flower, in a walled-up room where his cousin and playmate Beatricia frolics now for ever with her toys and bon-bons? Besides, practically all of the interns I know are doing it -- may God have mercy on their tortured souls!"
posted by No-sword at 2:08 AM on January 21, 2011 [8 favorites]


I just cited Yael/Jael in an AxeMe answer, so I know what THAT refers to, anyway. Looks like another victory for the Baader-Meinhof Phenomenon.
posted by norm at 6:42 AM on January 21, 2011


Let's play Real or Fake NYTimes Prose! Which of the following "increasing number of..." statements are real and which are fake?

1. The question that an increasing number of families face is whether the proselytizing green member of the clan adds spice to the proceeding, like, say, a cup of whiskey in a bowl of eggnog, or an explosive element, like that same cup of whiskey tossed into the fire on Christmas morning.

2. Thailand has its attractions for foreign visitors: its famed temples, seaside resorts, tom yum soup. But what drew Oh Sun-yee to Bangkok recently for a three-day stay was something considerably less recreational. Like an increasing number of South Koreans, Ms. Oh went to take the Test of English as a Foreign Language, or Toefl.

3. Like an increasing number of Northern European-Americans, Sander and Olof are using the Latin plural form of their surnames on joint invitations, thank you notes, and even on legal documents.

4. But now an increasing number of writers have discovered a new champion: Glenn Beck.

5. An increasing number of Americans are taking trips to Paris and leaving with a souvenir in the form of a French mortgage.

6. ''I think it's ridiculous that portable auto-tune is not yet a reality,'' said Ms. De La Sinigang, a consultant with a Makati-based executive search company. ''I want something that lets go to karaoke without having to worry about getting poked with a Bali-song'' So, apparently, do an increasing number of Filipinos.

posted by AceRock at 8:00 AM on January 21, 2011 [2 favorites]




But what are the ibex's feelings on the issues?
posted by sonika at 6:09 PM on January 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


Joe in Australia: " What's a Nubian?"

20 bucks, same as in town.
posted by yiftach at 11:32 PM on January 21, 2011


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