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New York Times veteran visits Newport

Frank Bruni, op-ed columnist and former food critic, will talk about the role of technology on human behavior.

March 20, 2014|By Rhea Mahbubani
  • The Newport Beach Public Library's Witte Lecture Series features Frank Bruni, an op-ed columnist for The New York Times, on Friday and Saturday.
The Newport Beach Public Library's Witte Lecture… (Andrew Scrivani…)

For as long as Frank Bruni can remember, food has played a lead role in his life.

In his Italian-American household in White Plains, N.Y., every family gathering was marked by culinary creations. He was a ravenous eater, with chubbiness to show for it. And bulimia made an early appearance — when he was still a toddler.

A look into the rearview mirror reveals that it wasn't competitive swimming or the Atkins diet that helped him break the cycle of binging and purging. It was professional eating as the restaurant critic for the New York Times, a position he took the calculated risk of accepting. 

The Newport Beach Public Library will host the 49-year-old veteran journalist, an op-ed columnist since 2011 and former Rome bureau chief for the Times, on Friday and Saturday. As the next guest speaker in the venue's Witte Lecture Series, he will discuss the effect of the Internet and technology on human behavior and politics. The program will be preceded by a reception and followed by Bruni signing copies of his 2009 memoir titled "Born Round: The Secret History of a Full-Time Eater."

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Bruni spoke to the Daily Pilot ahead of his appearance in Orange County. Below are excerpts from the conversation:

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What made you decide to come to the Newport Beach Public Library for a lecture?

It sounded like a good audience and a good venue. I like this area of the country. It's always pleasant to visit Southern California — I have relatives here, I have friends here. So it just made sense.

What do you plan to discuss?

I'm going to talk about the way that the Internet and cable TV and other forces in modern communication and technology have essentially fractured public life and allowed people to dwell in little micro-niches. If you like one thing, you can find that thing over and over again on channel options, find it over and over again on the Internet, and so I'm going to talk about the way Americans increasingly find these micro-communities of interest and sometimes lose common points of reference and what that means for politics as well.

What prompted your choice of this topic?

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