A crowd filled with famous faces gathered on Saturday to witness a momentous union — and in other news, Prince Harry married Meghan Markle. For its 43rd season finale, “Saturday Night Live” brought together two powerful entertainers: Tina Fey, who hosted the episode, and the rapper Nicki Minaj, its musical guest. Among the stars who made cameos were Benedict Cumberbatch, Robert De Niro, Donald Glover, John Goodman, Anne Hathaway, Lin-Manuel Miranda and Jerry Seinfeld.
When “S.N.L.” alums return as hosts, they tend to reprise their most beloved characters from the show. For Fey, that character is unquestionably her rendition of the 2008 vice-presidential hopeful Sarah Palin. Palin didn’t show up until the final half-hour, in a sketch set in the Oval Office. It was the highlight of the evening.
“It’s me, the ghost of Sarah Palin,” Fey said as if speaking to Palin’s fans, before clarifying that she was just kidding. “I’m still alive,” she said. “But you had to think about it, didn’t ya?” Clad in a leather motorcycle jacket, Fey explained, “One minute you’re on top, and then you’re gone in the blink of a Scaramucci.” Then she sang a few bars of “What I Did for Love,” from the musical “A Chorus Line.”
Sarah Huckabee Sanders, played by Aidy Bryant, soon popped in to puzzle over her relatively lengthy tenure as White House press secretary. Speculating on what the future would hold for her, she put her own spin on “What I Did for Love”: “Kiss White House goodbye, and point me toward Fox News,” Bryant sang. “I did what he said to do, and I might regret what I did for Trump.”
Do you remember February 1985? Perhaps you were rocking out to Wham! and Foreigner while teasing your bangs. Or maybe you hadn’t even been born. Either way, it was a significant month for the planet — the last one that was cooler than normal, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
In every single month after February 1985, the average global temperature has been warmer than normal — 400 months in a row. Anyone born after that month has never experienced a “cool” month for Earth, let alone a normal one.
It’s certainly a milestone for the planet, but it’s not surprising and it’s nothing new.
“We live in and share a world that is unequivocally, appreciably and consequentially warmer than just a few decades ago, and our world continues to warm,” NOAA climate scientist Deke Arndt told USA Today. “Speeding by a ‘400’ sign only underscores that, but it does not prove anything new.”
The average global temperature was about 1.5 degrees warmer than normal in the month of April, which may come as a surprise to anyone living in the United States, where it was the 13th coolest. While the rest of the globe simmered, the Upper Midwest set cold records. Iowa and Wisconsin had their all-time coldest April, while temperatures in surrounding states in the Central and Northeast United States were well below average. From Minnesota to Mississippi, nine states had their coldest April overnight lows.
Letter to Yasuyuki | Yesterday you came to my house, but I was out. I’m very sorry. Also, you left me some lovely things to eat. Thank you so much. This tanzaku I offer you is very clumsy… it’s a shame. I made it badly, please forgive me. (The priest of)Jinkou-in also gave me some fine sugar. Please pass along my gratitude. I heard you left Kyoto this morning… when you come again; I shall thank you face to face. These incense caddies are clumsy, and surely people will laugh at them. It’s a shame, but for now, since I don’t have anything good with which to return your favour, I give you these. Please pass one of them along to Jinkou-in. Stay well, and return home in peace… so I hope. – Warmly, to Yasuyuki, the twelfth day of the ninth month.
This letter forms a set with one of the two incense container in the shape of a turtle. The poem is inscribed on the original box:
Since this turtle
overflows its measure
of 10,000 years
how long shall
the one who keeps it live?
Otagaki Rengetsu (1791-1875)
Wumen Huikai 无门慧开 (1183–1260), Chán master most famous as the compiler of and commentator on the 48-koan collection The Gateless Gate. In many respects, Wumen was the classical eccentric Chan master. He wandered for many years from temple to temple, wore old and dirty robes, grew his hair and beard long and worked in the temple fields. He was nicknamed “Huikai the Lay Monk”. At age 64, he founded Gokoku-ninno temple near West Lake where he hoped to retire quietly, but visitors constantly came looking for instruction.
Matt Wells has many nicknames, chief among them Uncle Fuzz, but it isn’t until his old buddy Jerry Roberts calls him abuelo that reality sinks in. We are standing in Roberts’ yard on Easter Sunday 2017, in the small southern Colorado town of Ridgway, inventorying our gear before attempting a ski traverse of the San Juan Range. For some reason, up until now I have viewed this trip like any other. Only when Roberts used the Spanish word for grandpa did I remember: I am about to try and cross one of America’s king ranges with a 70-year-old (Wells)—while following his 68-year-old friend Denny Hogan’s lead.
We pad around in the sun, each of us brimming with the nervous excitement that precedes a week in the wild. The San Juans’ tall, striking skyline looms to the south. I have come at the behest of a friend, 42-year-old Tim Cron, who is four years my senior. Cron used to work with Wells in Idaho and saw in the trip a unique opportunity. Not only would we be chasing a rare objective, but we’d also get to learn from a pair of masters in Wells and Hogan.
Hogan, who organized the trip, drove south from his home in Buena Vista and met me on Wolf Creek Pass the prior day. We stashed a truck there and continued on to Ridgway, where in recent years an impressive array of mountain men have retired to an alpine-desert version of their former selves. Roberts, who used to oversee avalanche mitigation along the notorious Million Dollar Highway between Ouray and Silverton, acts as a sort of ringleader, and whenever a member of the old guard shows up, à la Hogan and Wells, the rest of them emerge like werewolves.
Almost on cue, Peter Lev appears at 10 a.m. A retired guide and former co-owner of Exum Mountain Guides in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, Lev partnered with Hogan on an attempted first ascent of the west face of Mount Huntington in Alaska 38 years ago. Earlier this winter, he relocated from the Black Hills to Ouray, just down the road from Ridgway, at the base of Red Mountain Pass. Lev almost summited 13,321-foot Trico Peak yesterday, he tells us, and enjoyed a marvelous solo ski descent. He is 77.
Roberts knows that Cron and I are here to learn from Hogan and Wells, and he assures us we will. “These guys are mentors without being mentors,” he says. “You see how things are done just by watching them.”
Hogan became interested in a San Juans traverse after reading that George Lowe and two friends skied it in 1992. Hogan has since tried it nine times, succeeding four. The 65-mile route basically follows the Continental Divide from west to east, and you spend much of your time above treeline—for better or worse. Hogan had long tried to convince Wells to join him, but it didn’t come together until this year. Wells recruited Cron, his former mentee on the Sun Valley Ski Patrol, and Cron invited me for an even number.
Aiming to complete the traverse in six days—an ambitious timeline even with good conditions—we divvy up supplies in the driveway. Lev, who has climbed the Grand Teton more than 400 times, shakes his index finger at Hogan. “You clearly still like to carry a heavy pack. What the heck is wrong with you?” Hogan laughs and blushes, but weight will indeed prove to be a factor during our trip.
Neither Lev, whose ski pack now consists of a hip pouch with a small bottle of schnapps, nor Roberts can physically handle such a traverse anymore. With each lament that another of their brethren has succumbed to a heart attack or brain tumor, it becomes clear how rare our two partners are. Cron and I are here to see how they still do it, so that one day we can be the holdouts.
Tom Wolfe, an innovative journalist whose technicolor, wildly punctuated prose brought to life the worlds of California surfers, car customizers, astronauts and Manhattans moneyed status-seekers in works like “The Kandy-Kolored Tangerine-Flake Streamline Baby,” “The Right Stuff” and “Bonfire of the Vanities,” died on Monday in a Manhattan hospital. He was 87.
His death was confirmed by his agent, Lynn Nesbit, who said Mr. Wolfe had been hospitalized with an infection. He had lived in New York since joining The New York Herald Tribune as a reporter in 1962.
In his use of novelistic techniques in his nonfiction, Mr. Wolfe, beginning in the 1960s, helped create the enormously influential hybrid known as the New Journalism.
But as an unabashed contrarian, he was almost as well known for his attire as his satire. He was instantly recognizable as he strolled down Madison Avenue — a tall, slender, blue-eyed, still-boyish-looking man in his spotless three-piece vanilla bespoke suit, pinstriped silk shirt with a starched white high collar, bright handkerchief peeking from his breast pocket, watch on a fob, faux spats and white shoes. Once asked to describe his get-up, Mr. Wolfe replied brightly, “Neo-pretentious.”
It was a typically wry response from a writer who found delight in lacerating the pretentiousness of others. He had a pitiless eye and a penchant for spotting trends and then giving them names, some of which — like “Radical Chic” and “the Me Decade” — became American idioms.
His talent as a writer and caricaturist was evident from the start in his verbal pyrotechnics and perfect mimicry of speech patterns, his meticulous reporting and his creative use of pop language and explosive punctuation.
“As a titlist of flamboyance he is without peer in the Western world,” Joseph Epstein wrote in the The New Republic. “His prose style is normally shotgun baroque, sometimes edging over into machine-gun rococo, as in his article on Las Vegas which begins by repeating the word ‘hernia’ fifty-seven times.”
William F. Buckley, Jr., writing in National Review, put it more simply: “He is probably the most skillful writer in America — I mean by that he can do more things with words than anyone else.”
From 1965 to 1981 Mr. Wolfe produced nine nonfiction books. “The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test,” an account of his reportorial travels in California with Ken Kesey and his Merry Pranksters as they spread the gospel of LSD, remains a classic chronicle of the counterculture, “still the best account — fictional or non, in print or on film — of the genesis of the sixties hipster subculture,” the press critic Jack Shafer wrote in the Columbia Journalism Review on the book’s 40th anniversary.
Even more impressive, to many critics, was “The Right Stuff,” his exhaustively reported narrative about the first American astronauts and the Mercury space program. The book, adapted into a film in 1983 with Sam Shepard, Dennis Quaid and Ed Harris, made the test pilot Chuck Yeager a cultural hero and added yet another phrase to the English language.
At the same time, Mr. Wolfe continued to turn out a stream of essays and magazine pieces for New York, Harper’s and Esquire. His theory of literature, which he preached in print and in person and to anyone who would listen was that journalism and non-fiction had “wiped out the novel as American literature’s main event.”
After “The Right Stuff,” published in 1979, he confronted what he called “the question that rebuked every writer who had made a point of experimenting with nonfiction over the preceding ten or fifteen years: Are you merely ducking the big challenge — The Novel?”
The answer came with “The Bonfire of the Vanities.” The novel, which initially ran as a serial in Rolling Stone magazine and was published in book form in 1987 after extensive revisions, offered a sweeping, bitingly satirical picture of money, power, greed and vanity in New York during the shameless excesses of the 1980s.
Tom Wolfe would have been just as brilliant without the white suit, but he would not have been nearly as interesting. His fashion harked to the past while his prose immersed us in the present. The suits alluded to civility while his books slashed away at the uncivil. In his white minimalism, he was the ultimate peacock.
Wolfe’s white suits didn’t make him look cool; they made him look odd. And what he seemed to understand was that odd was far more intriguing than cool. Odd is full of shadings and contradictions, frustrations and delights. The odd man fascinates. His personality must be unpacked; he is worth considering. But he also must be approached with caution and care. Who knows what he might do? Cool is overrated. People recognize cool when they see it, but once it’s witnessed and documented, it’s finished. To be cool is to be part of an era or a movement. But Wolfe surpassed his times. He stood apart. He was singular.
Tom Wolfe, in 2008, wearing one of his signature white suits. (Peter Kramer/AP)
Wolfe, who died Monday at 88, wore white suits in public and in the solitary time he spent writing. The white suits were a constant visual contradiction. They made him look courtly at a time when irony and sarcasm were the rules of conversational engagement. He had the appearance of an awkward outsider as well as that of a man who was the star of his own play. The suits were beautifully tailored but desperately out of fashion. The white suit was a Southern affectation that Wolfe did not succumb to until he called New York City home. It made him the center of attention in any room even though his journalistic profession was best served by his ability to be the unnoticed observer.