Gay Talese has long made a habit out of exposing the everyday truths behind a number of America’s cultural institutions. From his research into the ‘sexual revolution’ of the 1950s and 60s, to his celebrated portraitures of Sinatra, DiMaggio, and Dean Martin, Talese has a knack for ‘hanging out’ with his subjects long and ‘personally’ enough to write with a sort of freedom that lends itself to revelation.
In his Big Think interview, Talese yet again pulled back the veil on many of our beloved establishments. Love, for instance, is too vague and intangible to have any weight in matrimonial bliss. Similarly, sex, for all of its ‘mating game’ prominence, is far too akin to ordering fast food to hold any lasting value. The New York Times…turns out these newsrooms went through a reckless period of alcohol abuse and cluelessness that puts any of the workplace debauchery seen on Mad Men to shame.
Talese also shares his thoughts on the decline of journalism—blaming, among other things, the tape recorder, the Q & A format, and a focus on ‘indoor life’—and explains why a childhood spent eavesdropping on old ladies browsing for dresses in his parents’ New Jersey store helped to prepare him for a writer’s life.