BOOKS: America Agonistes

  NEW YORK TIMES: Once upon a time, there was a nation that saw itself as a beacon to the world. It would lead, as John Quincy Adams put it, by the gentle power of its example. If it all sounds a bit grandiose to us now, it did, too, to Graham Greene, the English author of the 1955 spy novel “The Quiet American.” Greene liked to complain that Yankees were “plump, smug, sentimental, ready for the easy tear and the hearty laugh and the fraternity yell.” He was particularly galled by American pretensions to purity in foreign affairs. “Innocence,” […]

WORTH REPEATING: Sympathy For The Devil

“Depiction Of Satan” (1866) by Gustave Dore BBC: Milton’s Paradise Lost is rarely read today. But this epic poem, at over 350 years old, remains a work of unparalleled imaginative genius that shapes English literature even now. In more than 10,000 lines of blank verse, it tells the story of the war for heaven and of man’s expulsion from Eden. Its dozen sections are an ambitious attempt to comprehend the loss of paradise – from the perspectives of the fallen angel Satan and of man, fallen from grace. Even to readers in a secular age, the poem is a powerful […]

Q&A W/ Anthony Bourdain, The Lou Reed Of Eating

[Illustrations by ALEX FINE] EDITOR’S NOTE: This interview originally ran back in November of 2011. We are re-posting it today on the second anniversary of his untimely death. Good night Mr. Bourdain, wherever you are. BY JONATHAN VALANIA Anthony Bourdain is a man who needs no introduction, but for those not in the know or without a consumptive cable habit, understand that he is the enfant terrible of the foodie world who came of age on the Punk Rock Planet of New York ‘77 simultaneously pogoing to the likes of the Ramones, Talking Heads, Television, and Patti Smith and shooting […]

NPR 4 THE DEAF: The Fable Of Reconstruction

FRESH AIR: In the period after the Civil War, former slaves were made promises of equality and citizenship by the federal government. Historian Eric Foner analyzes the fate of those promises in Forever Free: The Story of Emancipation and Reconstruction. The drastic changes in American society are pointed up by three amendments to the Constitution: the 13th abolished slavery; the 14th guaranteed birthright citizenship and equal rights for all Americans; and the 15th barred states from discriminating on the basis of race in voting rights. Foner writes, “The unresolved legacy of Reconstruction remains a part of our lives. In movements […]

WORTH REPEATING: The Banality Of Evil

WILL BUNCH: The moment we’ve been dreading since that escalator ride down Trump Tower five years ago this month — that’s been slowly building brick by brick as Donald Trump tore down the rule of law, abused the presidency to enrich himself, and grabbed the bully pulpit of the White House to divide America with racism, sexism and xenophobia — finally came at 6:45 p.m. as the sun sank over Washington on the night of June 1, 2020. Backed into a corner after his incompetence and distrust in science was trampled by a virus that’s killed 105,000 Americans, compounded by […]

EXCERPT: The Wichita Lineman Meets Joni Mitchell

  1971 On the surface, Joni Mitchell was a friendly, almost deliberately ordinary Canadian girl with a bright smile and a quick wit. But when it came to music and lyrics she had been blessed with a divine gift. I knew with no envy or jealousy that she was a better writer than I was. I envied her easy conversational phrasing that turned everyday banter into a new kind of song lyric. Her sensual guitar tunings delivered deep, dissonant yet compelling chords that, to use an expression by Linda Ronstadt, “rubbed.” Play that warm chord. I would sit with her and watch […]

NPR 4 THE DEAF: We Hear It Even When U Can’t

FRESH AIR: John Barry, author of the 2004 book, The Great Influenza, draws parallels between today’s pandemic and the flu of 1918. In both cases, he says, “the outbreak was trivialized for a long time.” MORE DISCOVERY MEDICINE: The great influenza pandemic began in 1918 and ended in 1920. Worldwide, the virus itself caused an estimated 20 to 100 million deaths most of which occurred between September 1918 and early 1919. In the U.S., with about 105 million people at the time, the virus killed approximately 675,000. Conventionally influenza causes its mortality among the elderly and infants due to their […]

BOOKS: The Gospel According To Saint Nick

VICE: It felt like an extravagant gift from my past self when Stranger Than Kindness showed up in the mail. It’s an odd and substantial object—part art book, part memoir, part jigsaw artifact—by and about Nick Cave, designed to complement an exhibit about his work at the Royal Danish Library in Copenhagen. (The exhibit is described by the curators as eight rooms devoted to “a spatial, multi-sensory exploration of his many real and imagined universes.”) Like everything else, the exhibition is now indefinitely postponed, but the book more than stands on its own. Cave, who fled Australia for London and […]

WORTH REPEATING: Jared Kushner Will Kill Us All

Artwork by @Noid68 NEW YORK TIMES: The journalist Andrea Bernstein looked closely at Kushner’s business record for her recent book “American Oligarchs: The Kushners, the Trumps, and the Marriage of Money and Power,” speaking to people on all sides of his real estate deals as well as those who worked with him at The New York Observer, the weekly newspaper he bought in 2006. Kushner, Bernstein told me, “really sees himself as a disrupter.” Again and again, she said, people who’d dealt with Kushner told her that whatever he did, he “believed he could do it better than anybody else, […]

NPR 4 THE DEAF: We Hear It Even When U Can’t

HEAR & NOW: Winning the Cold War, Bacevich says, led average Americans and policymakers to believe “the future was ours to define.” Instead, he found it led to folly and delusion. American leaders in 1989 had a “simplistic” view of the Cold War and concluded that the fall of the Berlin Wall was a “wonderful,” future-defining event, he says. The post-Cold War presidencies of Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama are defined by the belief that the Cold War positioned the U.S. to determine the future, he says. Bacevich finds the problem with these presidents was not with […]

NPR 4 THE DEAF: We Hear It Even When You Can’t

FRESH AIR: Apocalyptic novelist Max Brooks is something of an expert on planning for pandemics and other disasters. The author, whose books include World War Z, Germ Warfare and the forthcoming Devolution, has toured the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and has reviewed government response plans related to various emergency situations — all in the course of research. “We have a network in place that we as taxpayers have been funding to get us ready for something just like this,” Brooks says of the U.S. response to the COVID-19 pandemic. But, he adds, “we have been disastrously slow and […]


  BY SOPHIE BURKHOLDER A Catholic-raised Pittsburgh girl, Amy Rigby fled her steel mill hometown for New York, then in its mid-70s punk prime to attend Parsons School of Design. Soon shrouding her eyes in black liner, she quickly became a fixture at CBGB and fell into a crowd of downtown punk scenesters. Her love of music grew into a passion for making her own, first with bands like Last Roundup and The Shams, and later on her own. Her first solo album, 1996’s Diary of a Mod Housewife, received widespread critical acclaim in the press a few short years […]

NPR 4 THE DEAF: We Here It Even When You Can’t

  FRESH AIR: Amazon founder Jeff Bezos is now the richest man in the world, with an empire that stretches from Hollywood to Whole Foods — and even into outer space. The new PBS Frontline documentary, Amazon Empire: The Rise And Reign Of Jeff Bezos, investigates how Bezos transformed Amazon from an online bookseller into a trillion-dollar business that’s unprecedented in its size and reach. Director James Jacoby, who worked with fellow filmmaker Anya Bourg on the project, calls the company an “inescapable part of our modern lives.” “It’s not just how the majority of Americans are shopping online,” he […]