He's back! (David González in the NYT)I had lunch with David two days ago (or maybe, like Joyce Wadler in Boldface Names, I should say "we" had lunch with David González), in my nabe at the Time Cafe on Lafayette & 4th.* I hadn't seen him since before his assignment as Caribbean correspondent for the NY Times, and it was great to get his take on such things as living in Miami (not great), what life is like in Cuba (also not great, but for different reasons), the operatic intensity of the political conflict in Venezuela (complicated -- Hugo Chávez is neither as popular as he claims, nor is the opposition at all coherent or rational). Now he is back in New York as a feature writer, and today his paper has announced that fact with a quarter-page bilingual ad (bilingual! When before have you seen a whole paragraph in Spanish in the Times?) in the Metro section. With a photo of him --not so scruffy as he looked last Wednesday -- too bad, scruffy is his normal look, and more fitting for his scrappy, down-with-the-pueblo style. David is no slave of fashion, sartorially or journalistically.
When he told me this ad was coming, his eyes widened, like he still couldn't believe all this attention. Why are they doing this? I asked him. Not to doubt that he deserves it, but "deserving" isn't usually enough reason for getting something. The reasons seemed pretty clear to him: since the revolution in The NYT (the overthrow of Howell Raines in the wake of the Jayson Blair scandal), the new chief Bill Keller wants to bring up the paper's pathetic circulation in New York City (compared to the Post and the New), and David (a) wasa very popular columnist when he had the Metro page 1 "About New York" slot and (b) knows the Bronx better than anybody. And now he's planning to explore the other boroughs. So, the Times has lost a terrific Caribbean & Central American correspondent, and regained a knowledgeable and insightful city reporter. Welcome back -- oops, I mean, "Bienvenido, Sr. González."
*Who cares where we ate? But I'm just imitating Boldface Names. Maybe if I mention the place, they'll discover it (through Google) and mention that I mentioned them, and then we all help make each other famous for being mentioned. Ridiculous, but it is a kind of celebrity.
For circulation of New York City papers. The New York Times is the largest circulation paper daily or Sunday in the U.S. , but far from the biggest in New York City. I tried to find its NYC figures separated out from the national total, but after trying various Google combinations, I've decided I've spent enough time on this. If you happen to know, please tell me.
This has nothing to do directly with David González, but on U.S. press fumbling on the Venezuelan coup of April 2002, see Coup of Confusion by Javier Sierra