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.