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There are a lot of places these days to look for all kinds of love, especially online. But what's an aging intellectual who loves William Gass, Philip Glass and a good merlot to do?
The distinguished New York Review of Books celebrates its 50th anniversary this month. It is noted for its rigorous writing and stellar cerebral lit stars — and its personal ads.
For example: "ANTEDILUVIAN MARINER (M) seeks attractive coxswain (F) to put in at terra firma amidst coming torrents. Long-term relationship inevitable. Will steer clear of Mount Ararat in protest of Armenian genocide. Mont Blanc? Open to suggestions."
The magazine's associate publisher, Catherine Tice, tells NPR's Scott Simon that she doesn't know exactly what the reasoning was behind the decision to run personals. "But I do have the very first personal ad, from the July 11, 1968, issue. It's very succinct." And it is: "Wife wanted: intelligent, beautiful, 18 to 25, broad-minded, sensitive, affectionate. For accomplished artist and exciting life. NYR box 1432."
No word on whether the accomplished artist found his broad-minded and affectionate dream wife, but Tice says there have been some personal ad success stories. "We've been told of marriages and alliances of many kinds," she says. One woman said the responses to her ad "literally knocked my socks off."
Tice says the ads reflect an intellectually engaged and curious readership. "[They're] interested in politics and culture certainly, and the arts and science, and sort of unabashedly happy to state that they wish to share those things with others," along with descriptions of their looks. "If an armchair radical who's 25 seeks dialectical synthesis with street-credible jacobin female, must have nothing to lose but chains, absence of property a plus — I wonder who will please that fellow, but I imagine that there's a reader of The Review who will."
ONE-BREASTED WOMAN seeks one-armed man.
FRISKY COUGAR, 84, seeks dude, 72 to 76, share walks from parking lots to doctors' offices. Must like detailed descriptions of illnesses; enjoy matinee "naps"; daytime driving essential; relishes grandchildren's pictures. Limited flatulence, clacking teeth ok. Don't anticipate LTR.
PORTLY, HANDSOME MAN, 81 summers, some hair and teeth, ample supply blue pills; seeking 90+ foxy cougar, to snuggle under afghan, swap podiatry, colonoscopy, and dental stories; knowing "Hut-sut rawlson" and "Mairzy? Doats" a plus. Large type for response.
SQUALID SYDNEY WOMBAT (M), striking natural dirty digger seeks beckoning, foxy NYC squirrel (F) for trans-Antipodean roo, pert exchanges, and postmodern "Murdoch-She-Wrote" contemplations of retrospectives in hot metal prints.
WORN-OUT HUSBAND, friend to his wife's nerves and father to five silly daughters (the two eldest excepted) for almost a quarter century, seeks wealthy, titled, childless widow of an unentailed estate for long walks across ha-ha's.
FANNIE MAE with troubled assets, bored with Freddie Mac, seeks well-regulated stimulus package from counterparty too big to fail. No cash for clunkers.
DISPROPORTIONATELY BLESSED GENERALISSMO, deposed by an ungrateful peasantry, languishes in luxurious tropical exile. Seeks a talented contortionist with low morals and high pain threshold for long-term relationship, satori, and maybe a little narco-crime on the side.