At least two wonderful pieces in this week's New Yorker. The first is Anthony Lane's article "High and Low", about the proliferation (and success) of low-budget airlines in Europe:
British Airways stopped laughing when EasyJet ran a flight from London to Glasgow for twenty-nine pounds. It was not only cheaper than flying with B.A.; it was, unless you were a monk with a place to stay, cheaper than remaining in London for the weekend. More than a decade later, that is still the case, but the opportunities to extend the principle have multiplied and swarmed. You can fly to Scotland for less than the price of a tin of shortbread, but why pass from one shower of flesh-puckering rain to another when, for not much more, you can be bronzing in Nice by lunchtime? The paradox is both delectable and damning: the best thing to happen to Great Britain in the past decade is the increasing profusion of ways to get the hell out of the place.
And the second is "Planet Kirsan" by Michael Specter - an article about the bizarre, alien-loving ruler of Kalmykia, a chess-obsessed but almost uninhabitable republic of Russia.
Kirsan Ilyumzhinov called his autobiography, published in 1998, The President's Crown of Thorns. (Chapter titles include "Without Me the People Are Incomplete," "I Become a Millionaire," and "It Only Takes Two Weeks to Have a Man Killed.")
If Johnny Marr ever wants a new lyricist, I think we've found our man.