Winner of the 2016 American Society of Magazine Editors “Next Award” for journalists under 30, Lindsay Zoladz can break down David Bowie with the best of them. Smart, thoughtful, curious, her work at New York Magazine—and more recently as a staff writer at The Ringer—embodies the best of cultural criticism.
What about the work at New York Magazine is most exciting for you?
Just being a part of what I can honestly say is my favorite magazine. I still get giddy every other Monday morning when I get my hands on the latest issue and see the great work that my colleagues are doing.
What about cultural criticism is interesting to you? Why is it important?
You know, there’s always somebody out there crowing about “the death of criticism” or “the death of the album review,” etc. etc., but I think this is an especially important time for cultural criticism, and music criticism in general. There’s just so much music out there anymore, so much cultural information we’re constantly taking in, that there’s a real need for people we trust to help us separate the signal from the noise. Which not only means telling us what new albums or movies or TV shows are worth our time, but also allowing us to pause and reflect on the really exceptional stuff. I just finished A.O. Scott’s new book Better Living Through Criticism, and there’s a part where he says that all criticism is rooted in our desire “to think about, recapture, and communicate our delights, to make them less solitary, less ephemeral.” And I think that’s a great explanation of why I write criticism, but it’s also a great explanation of why people read it, too.
What has been your most memorable interview or celebrity moment?
A couple years ago, when I was working at Pitchfork, I got to interview Bryan Ferry in his hotel room. This was already a dream come true, since I’m a huge Roxy Music fan, but the interview really took a turn for the wonderful when he started waxing poetic about how much he loves Prince. He got out his laptop and insisted on showing me one of his favorite Prince performances on YouTube, and about halfway through he said that he wished the video window didn’t have to be so small. I pointed to the full-screen icon and told him to click it—and that blew his mind. So yeah, I showed Bryan Ferry how to full-screen a YouTube video. So far, I think this has been my greatest contribution to humanity.
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