It’s good if you say so and other notes on living with a New York Times critic
I married a fancy man. I myself am not fancy: I used to ride horses and drink beer out of the bed of the truck. But some how, some way, a fancy man from New York City went into the wilds of Texas and pulled me out of the bushes, dusted me off and said, “hey gurl, drop the reins and come on with me.” And I went.
I went to work for a publishing company and by sheer proximity to all that thought and sophistication, I too started to become fancy. I read books everyone blathered about so I could blather too. I hung out at Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center with the fancy husband. I was great yahoo country muscle when an unhappy reviewee would want to attack him in the aisles. I’d stand up, all 6 feet 2 inches of me, and say in my yahoo voice, “fuck offffff, little buddy.” It worked out.
My fancy husband showed me his office. We were with Ben Brantley, the king of Broadway and funniest man alive. When we passed the sign that said “NY Times Critics” at the door, Ben said, “it might as well say ‘throw bombs here.” Their offices were all chaos and paper, just as you would imagine. Whiny notes about recording thefts abounded. Dilbert had arrived at The New York Times.
Shortly thereafter, on a trip to the Santa Fe Opera, I saw my fancy husband’s true colors. His sedition would have rocked that gross, dirty office of “NY Times Critics.” All his fanciness dried up in a second when I heard his response to the question, “was this opera good?”
The fancy man looked out over the theater into the hills of New Mexico and said to the music-affectionado, “It’s good if you thought it was.”
And there you have it, people. You don’t need affirmation. Art is good if it’s good for you. Period.