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Citigroup Posts $2.5 Billion Loss

A lot of big news at the banks today — but there's also crazy stuff going down with Jeff Zucker, Dan Rather, Brooke Astor (from beyond!), and Barack Obama, in our daily industry roundup.

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Encounter David Chang in This Week's ‘New Yorker’

Late in Larissa MacFarquhar’s profile of David Chang, the Momofuku man makes a confession: “I’m slowly realizing that I’m a highly complex individual,” he says. It’s not an insight likely to surprise readers of the piece, which will appear in The New Yorker this week. Chang comes across as brilliant, inspired, and high-strung to the point of actually giving himself shingles, a diagnosis made by a doctor after the chef literally incapacitated himself with worry and anxiety. But if you want to get a sense of how intense Chang really is, just read the passage where he reads the riot act to a group of hapless Noodle Bar cooks, who had committed offenses ranging from using tongs on the family-meal chicken (a Chang bête noire) to cutting up the fish cakes for the ramen carelessly.

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Bagel Claim Laid Bare?

When we read in The New Yorker last week of a Long Island man who claimed to have invented the everything bagel 30 years ago in Howard Beach, one line stood out: “So far, no one has contested Gussin’s claim, setting his invention apart from the radio (Marconi vs. Tesla) and calculus (Leibniz vs. Newton). ” A droll enough observation, but one we suspected wouldn't last long in a city filled with boastful, self-promoting bagel mavens. And sure enough, Serious Eats reports that marketer Seth Godin has already contested the claim. But are we really to believe that the world waited until 1977 for the invention of the everything bagel? Somebody's zayde in Warsaw is going to be getting a phone call soon. Who Really Fathered the Everything Bagel? [Serious Eats]

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Gossip Girl: ‘New Yorker’–Approved

Gossip
In what could be the biggest literary catfight since Lillian Hellman versus Mary McCarthy, The New Yorker's Janet Malcolm has taken on New Yorker television critic Nancy Franklin, right there in the very pages of the magazine. The subject of their contretemps is a text we can all agree is one of extreme literary consequence: The Gossip Girl series. You may remember that back in November, when Franklin reviewed the Greatest Show of Our Time in The New Yorker, she callously dismissed the original text, as crafted by Nightingale graduate author Cecily von Ziegesar. "I’ve been told that some kids in Manhattan’s private-school population resent the way they’ve been depicted in the show," she wrote at the time, adding parenthetically, and cattily, ‘Or maybe they just want to distance themselves from a Nightingale graduate who can write a paragraph like this: “There was a box of orange Tic Tacs in her pocket with only one Tic Tac left. Serena fished the Tic Tac out and put it on her tongue, but she was so worried about her future, she could barely taste it.’” Now, Janet Malcolm has revisited the series, and her review carries none of Franklin's snideness. In fact, quite the opposite. The prose, she declares, is Nabokovian. The character of Nate "is a kind of Vronsky manqué." Von Ziegesar's "designated reader is an adolescent girl, but the reader she seems to have firmly in mind as she writes is a literate, even literary, adult."
"Only someone very hard-hearted wouldn’t laugh" at the situations the characters find themselves in, she writes. "The way von Ziegesar implicates us in her empathic examination of youth’s callousness is the Waughish achievement of these strange, complicated books."
Then, like any sharp-tongued lady of letters, she smoothes things over with her colleague, only to plunge the knife straight into her back.

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‘The New Yorker’ Hits Fiamma Hard

The New Yorker’s “Tables for Two” reviews have generally been mordant little affairs, short on criticism and long on wry descriptions of restaurant culture. Not this week. Nick Paumgarten comes down hard on Fiamma, describing “FEMA-like” service, cold food, a martini made without vermouth, and, in general, the very picture of a major ripoff operation, subsisting on “a strong euro and the proximity of the Soho Grand hotel.” It’s a wild departure from the usual “Tables for Two” mold, and though it may or may not be reflective of Fiamma (practically all of the reviews have been very positive, including Adam Platt’s two-star job), it’s certainly a lot more fun to read. Something tells us Paumgarten had a lot of fun writing it. Tables for Two: Fiamma [NYer]

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Jeff Bewkes Starts Cleaning House at Time Warner

MEDIA • At least 75 Time Warner layoffs are expected to be announced today. The layoffs are among CEO Jeff Bewkes's first public tasks since taking the helm of the company from Dick Parsons last month. Earlier today, Time Warner announced a 41 percent decline in fourth-quarter earnings. [MSNBC & AdAge] • Maybe some of those Time Warner folks can hang their hats over at Condé Nast. The Observer evaluates Portfolio's recent spending spree, during which it recruited top talent from The New Yorker, the Post, and the Times. [NYO] • (Product)Red, the love child of Bono, iPod, and the Gap, has raised more than $22 million for fighting HIV and AIDS in Africa. But considering the big advertising bucks spent during the Super Bowl and elsewhere, some are arguing that it's not enough. [NYT]

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