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Man, What a Show!

September was one helluva ride. It came in with a hurricane that blew the president and vice president off the RNC stage. In their place stepped a hockey mom who knows how to field-dress a moose.

Making Our Votes Really Count

As term limits and elections loom—with much of the current City Council scheduled for eviction in 2009—Mayor Bloomberg (along with more than a few members of the council) has indulged in an achingly long flirtation with the idea of repealing the limits that stand between him and a third term.

Up in Smoke

As recently as early September we were being reassured, not only by politicians but by experts everywhere, from the halls of academe to newspaper financial pages, that—serious though things might be—comparisons to the Great Depression were uncalled for. By the official end of summer, as I am writing this, that comparison is everywhere, if only as background for insistence that this time the downward spiral can be controlled—provided that the government does the right thing, and does it fast.

Campaign Dispatches: St. Paul and Beyond

Who says we can’t afford another big election about small things? Isn’t it the little things that matter most? Like Bristol Palin’s teen pregnancy, and her mother’s big gun? Like John McCain’s age and Barack Obama’s secret Muslim heart?

A Letter from Alf Landon

I received this letter from Alf Landon when I was fifteen years old, in Kansas, in 1968, after I’d written to him to complain that political party conventions were outmoded. Landon had supported Theodore Roosevelt’s Progressive Party in 1922, and was elected governor of Kansas in 1932, serving as a very popular moderate-to-liberal Republican, and gaining a reputation for cutting taxes and balancing the budget.

Call Me Naive: A Love Letter

I know I’m supposed to be cynical about Barack Obama. The political process is broken, the cynics say, crushed by three decades of Republican rule, undermined by a stupefied—or stupid-fried—electorate, and sabotaged by a media industrial complex the likes of which Dwight Eisenhower could never have imagined.

A Life in Underground Letters

Barney Rosset is the publishing legend responsible for the seminal Grove Press and the highly influential cultural journal Evergreen Review. Tropic of Cancer, Naked Lunch, Lady Chatterley’s Lover, the Autobiography of Malcolm X, Ginsberg, Kerouac, Beckett, Che Guevara, Genet—these are just some of the books and authors that Rosset published in the ’50s, ’60s, and ’70s, many for the first time in the country.

Crawling through the Wreckage

Tom Frank is a well-respected journalist and Wall Street Journal columnist, whose 2004 book What’s the Matter with Kansas? gained notoriety for positing that Republicans had duped those in the Red States to vote against their economic interest in favor of hot-button social issues like abortion and gun-control.

A Blueprint, or a Green One?

Thomas L. Friedman is the anti-Cassandra. Unlike the figure from Greek mythology, his warnings are never prescient, but they are always heeded—if one judges by bestseller lists and dinner party chatter. Friedman’s last prophecy arrived in 2005, when he introduced globalization to the masses.

The Journalist as Private Eye

In the introduction to Submersion Journalism: Reporting in the Radical First Person from Harper’s Magazine, that magazine’s editor, Roger D. Hodge, argues that the turn of the millennium and George W. Bush’s administration signaled a shift in both the way we consume information and the type of information we’re receiving.

Souls of Arab-American Folk

“But what exactly is a profile?” Moustafa Bayoumi writes at the outset of How Does It Feel to be a Problem? “It’s a sketch in charcoal, the simplified contours of a face, a silhouette in black and white, a textbook description of a personality. By definition a profile draws an incomplete picture.”

Diamonds in the Rough

Once in an undergraduate class on American literature, one of my classmates noted that our teaching assistant had referenced The Simpsons during the discussion of nearly every text we had read. The student was not a fan of the show and was somewhat irritated that a prime-time cartoon frequently infringed upon our debates over Fitzgerald, Hemingway, and Melville.

Andrzej Wajda: An Auteur from the East

On October 17, the Film Society of Lincoln Center opened “Truth or Dare,” a month-long Andrzej Wajda retrospective. The 82-year-old director introduced four features over the first three nights: The Promised Land (1975), Everything for Sale (1969), Ashes and Diamonds (1958), and Katyn (2007). Wajda (pronounced VY-da) is among cinema’s great living auteurs, and he spent decades cannily steering script proposals and finished works past Poland’s communist-era censor bureau.


The Brooklyn Rail

OCT 2008

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