March 15, 2012
What We Talk About When We Talk About Anne Frank By Nathan Englander (Alfred A. Knopf, 207 pp., $24.95) The great mystery about the fiction of Nathan Englander is the rapturous response that it has elicited. The enigma deepens with the accolades for this new volume of stories, which, for reasons I will try to explain, is a great falling-off from For the Relief of Unbearable Urges, his debut collection, which appeared in 1999.
Entitlement Society, To A Samba Beat
December 09, 2011
Mitt Romney's response this week to President Obama's populist speech in Kansas was to warn that Obama "seeks to replace our merit-based society with an entitlement society." Daniel Henninger went even further in his op-ed yesterday in the Wall Street Journal, declaring the speech "what you'd expect to hear in Caracas or Buenos Aires." It's funny that Henninger should make the South American comparison.
November 09, 2011
When Dr. Tom Walsh decided to start an opera festival in Wexford in 1951, the idea seemed not so much whimsical as absurd. Here was a small town on the far southeast coast of Ireland, not particularly accessible even from Dublin. The Irish had always put their genius into words, not music, and the country had little musical tradition to speak of. But Dr. Tom made it happen. Wexford born and bred, a family doctor and then hospital anesthetist, he was a courteous and charming man, an unostentatiously devout Catholic, and the opera nut to end them all.
Why Won’t Obama List Israelis Among the Victims of Terrorism?
September 08, 2011
I wish it would be historically possible—that is, historically honest—for Israel to be omitted from the long list of target countries that have been the victims of terrorism. Alas, it is not. But President Obama has a habit of making such lists, and he always fails to include Israel (or anyplace within its borders) as a target of this distinctive and most vicious form of warfare. Still, the fact is that, as early as the 1970s, Palestinian liberationists had begun to perfect the careful tactics of random battle against Israelis. If not precisely Israelis, then some other Jews. Why not?
The Unwisdom of Crowds
September 06, 2010
Toward the end of Defying Hitler, his extraordinary memoir of the rise of Nazism in Germany, Sebastian Haffner describes how the Nazis had “made all Germans everywhere into comrades.” This, he argued, had been a moral catastrophe. This emphatically was not because comradeship was never a good thing. To the contrary, as Haffner was at pains to insist, it was a great and necessary comfort and help for people who had to live under unbearable, inhuman conditions, above all in war.
The BACK LOT: The Menace of ‘Metropolis’
July 24, 2010
I have just had a sensational night at the movies, and the picture was only 83 years old. At the Silent Film Festival in San Francisco, the Castro Theater was packed for a showing of a “complete” Metropolis. Moreover, the screening was graced by the presence of the two Argentineans—scholar Fernando Pena and archivist Paula Felix-Didier—who discovered the previously lost footage in Buenos Aires a couple of years ago. I honor their work, and their amusing commentary on the discovery—they were a couple once, then separated, then back together with the excitement of the find.
Argentina: Still Bipolar
July 03, 2010
A contribution from Vinod Sreeharsha, an American freelance journalist who has written about Latin America for McClatchy News, the Miami Herald, and the New York Times. BUENOS AIRES—The ups and downs of the past 24 hours here have been brutal, saddening, and well, very Argentine. The knives will likely come out now for Diego Maradona as quickly as the flurry of mea culpas came in during the days leading up to today's match with Germany.
Diego Maradona Is Not Gay
July 02, 2010
The once-great Maradona wants everyone in the world to know, just in case there was any doubt, that he’s not gay. No sirree, he certainly is not. He likes women. He really likes women. He’s fucking pretty Veronica. I received an email from Daniel Alarcon this morning asking whether I planned to write anything about his dingbatness’ “I’m not gay” press conference, because if I wasn’t, he intended to. I had no idea what he was talking about, and so I watched the press conference—I watched the 55 second clip before I had my morning coffee.
Related to Pride, Close to Desire
June 19, 2010
In November 2008, on a Sunday afternoon in Buenos Aires, I happened upon one of those mini-riots peculiar to the moments immediately before or immediately after any first division soccer match. I was walking in a neighborhood by one of the larger train stations, when a train arrived from the vast outer suburbs of the capital, releasing a horde of young fans dressed in red—partisans of Independiente, if memory serves.
Is Italy Fatally Insular?
June 17, 2010
I’ve been reading Rob Hughes for many years, always with interest, but a recent piece of his in the New York Times (from his On Soccer column in the International Herald Tribune) made me wonder about the pretzel logic that can sometimes accompany political correctness. The theme of his article published on June 15 was that Germany, thanks to its multicultural team, was displaying a new vigor, while Italy, top-heavy with, well, uh, Italians, was on the skids: There seems to be a new, vibrant, powerful Germany: a side whose players are too young to fear defeat and whose diverse ethnic backgroun