Sunday, January 3, 2010

To Illustrate "New Brazenness" Of Nightclub Smokers, Styles Section Uses Nearly Three-Year-Old Photo Of Dead Artist Jeremy Blake.

In today's Styles section, NYT contributor Douglas Quenqua reports on a supposed trend of nightclub patrons flouting the law and lighting up in local trendy nightclubs -- a "new brazenness," Quenqua calls it.

New? Maybe, but the NYT's use of a nearly three-year-old image of famous painter Jeremy Blake smoking a cigarette at the Beatrice Inn doesn't illustrate the point. As many NYT readers know -- and the paper itself reported in a 647-word obituary -- Blake committed suicide in the summer of 2007, at the age of 35.

Blake, whose paintings appeared in the Paul Thomas Anderson film "Punch Drunk Love," is believed to have killed himself by walking into the Atlantic Ocean on July 17, 2007, despondent over the suicide death one week earlier of his girlfriend, the video game creator Theresa Duncan.

The photograph used by the NYT was taken on May 23, 2007 by Bryan Bedder, at the Beatrice Inn after-party for the premiere of "Chicago 10," a 2007 documentary. The shot is owned by Getty Images, and caption information on Getty's website identifies the person sitting at Blake's right as Sam Rumba.

The use of the Blake photo raises a couple of interesting questions. Why would the NYT run a photo of a well-known artist -- knowing that many readers would recognize him -- without identifying him in the caption? And why would the NYT run a nearly three-year-old photograph to illustrate a story that purports to document a recent phenomenon?

We've emailed NYT Styles editor Trip Gabriel with our questions, and will update with his response.

But it seems likely that the NYT photo editors simply scanned the files for photos of smokers in nightclubs, with no regard to dates or identities. However it happened, it strikes us as an eerie and unfortunate mistake.

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

I think the nightclub patrons were flouting the law, not flaunting it.

Roberto said...

Does this post refer to the print version of the story? 'Cause if it was the Web, the photo has been changed.

512jellybeans said...

Grammatically speaking, this line should be rephrased: "..Getty's website identifies the person sitting at Blake's right as Sam Rumba."

Actually, the person sitting to Blake's right is unseen.

It would more be appropriate to say, "The person to the right of Blake in the picture has been identified by the website as Sam Rumba."

OR

"The person on the right side of the picture has been identified by the website as Sam Rumba."

512jellybeans said...

Good grief, I repeated your error! Please see my correction in CAPS below. I'm sorry for the confusion!

It would more be appropriate to say, "The person to the LEFT of Blake in the picture has been identified by the website as Sam Rumba."

Anonymous said...

okay. it's weird the dude's dead. rest in peace etc. but hello, the story doesn't say smoking at the beatrice is "new," it says the opposite.

Anonymous said...

Re: "the story doesn't say smoking at the beatrice is "new," "

Especially as the Beatrice has been closed for many months. Yet that doesn't faze the effort to portray this "easier than ever to find" trend.

The article said, "Six years after New York City passed a ban on smoking in bars and restaurants, it is easier than ever to find smokers partying indoors like it’s 1999, or at least 2002."

The question raised was, "And why would the NYT run a nearly three-year-old photograph to illustrate a story that purports to document a recent phenomenon?"

The silence from the lack of a response speaks volumes.

Anonymous said...

its sam brumbaugh, not sam rumba