Monthly Archives: November 2016

The Return of the Working Class to American Politics

Back during the Presidential election in 1984, when I was a sophomore at Rutgers University, I went to see Walter Mondale at the State Theater in downtown, New Brunswick, New Jersey. Even though Mondale, a colorless liberal Democrat who got creamed in the general election, invoked Bruce Springsteen so many times I thought he was […]

The Fountainhead (1949)

The famous scene where Patricia Neal admires Gary Cooper’s, ahem, jackhammer. While there have always been powerful, well-connected fans of Ayn Rand like Alan Greenspan and Paul Ryan, something about her ideas appeals, not necessarily to the weak, but to outsiders, to failures, to losers and malcontents, among whom, of course, I number myself. If […]

The Walk (2015)

On the night of August 6, 1974, a 24-year-old Frenchman named Philippe Petit and a group of friends rigged a series of steel cables between two towers of the World Trade Center. When the sun came up the next morning on August 7, Petit climbed out onto the cable and did a death-defying, forty-five minute […]

I am a Fugitive from a Chain Gang (1932)

Before there was Sansho the Bailiff, Wages of Fear, Army of Shadows, A Man Escaped, Sullivan’s Travels or Twelve Years a Slave, there was I am a Fugitive from a Chain Gang. Based on the autobiography of Robert Elliott Burns, a New Jersey man who escaped from a Georgia penal institution, not once, but twice, […]

Elegy for the Giant Meteor

The aggressive, repetitive chanting that has come to dominate modern pop music, the way I encounter it in almost identical conditions every day, has elevated its own banality to the realm of the sinister. If there’s a collective unconscious this is its Tell-Tale Heart Moment. I hear repeated over loudspeakers at least 10 times in a […]

Trump and the Culpability of White People, Specifically and Generally

(Note: This article started out as a series of notes I typed in response to a friend who asked me to comment on this article. They’ve been cleaned up but the rambling flow has been retained. Seeing how uncertain the future is in most respects, informal musings seem like as good a form as any […]

Talking to Strangers in Public

Yesterday I went to my local coffee shop to get away from the Internet and read a book. Since I’m too poor to have a cell-phone, leaving the house without my laptop means going back to the world of the 1980s. My brain slows down. I regain the ability to think in complete sentences. I […]

Towards a People’s Impeachment

When Carl Higbie, the spokesman for the pro-Trump Great American PAC, told Megyn Kelly of Fox News that the detention of Japanese Americans during World War II would provide a legal precedent for a registry of Muslim Americans under the Trump administration, it wasn’t all that it seemed. He was not proposing that “we” round […]

Emmanuelle Riva: The Francesca da Rimini of French Cinema

Many American street preachers will tell you that they get most of their converts from hecklers. Unlike people who walk by your fire and brimstone sermon without comment, hecklers are passionate, engaged. Even if they only want to prove you wrong, they’re still interested in what you have to say. In Jean-Pierre Melville’s criminally neglected […]

On Performative Anti-Fascism

A quick tutorial on how to deal with occupying Nazis: 1.) Apply bayonet liberally to carotid artery 2.) Use Nazi as tackling dummy 3.) Go jogging to reduce tension caused by nicotine addiction and worry over narrowly escaped death by slow torture 4.) Stop at your local barber shop for a shave. At the beginning […]