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Introducing Citizen Cohn
June 29, 2010

Does the world really need another blog on politics and policy? There was a time when that question made sense. A year and a half ago, when I started a blog about health care reform, I distinctly remember thinking it would be a nice little diversion from my longer articles—a way to keep in touch with readers and, once in a while, to amplify a point I couldn’t make within the confines of the print magazine. I turned out to be very wrong.

Twidiot
June 21, 2010

I cannot pinpoint the precise moment in time when the transformation kicked in, the shift from the occasional one-night stand with someone I thought of as a vapid twit into a torrid love affair of passionate tweets. But I remember the circumstance. I was drunk, quite drunk. As is my habit when I am drunk, I assaulted the kitchen: whipped cream out of the can, smoked mussels packed in what appeared to be high-viscosity motor oil, several substantial fistfuls of Cheez-Its.

Please “Treme,” I Beg You--Get Over Yourself
May 07, 2010

On Wednesday, TNR senior editor Ruth Franklin explored the way authenticity is played with in David Simon’s new HBO show, “Treme.” Here, John McWhorter offers his own, markedly different opinion on the subject. People can get irritating about their authenticity.

THE READ: David Simon’s World
May 05, 2010

In the third episode of “Treme,” David Simon’s new HBO series about New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, a group of Mardi Gras Indians are holding a memorial ceremony for one of their members, whose badly decomposed remains were just discovered in a shed behind his house. As they sing and chant, a large white bus marked “Katrina Tour” rolls into the street and stops in front of them. The driver rolls down his window; all we see of the passengers is their flashbulbs. “Drive away from here, sir!” the Indians shout.

Samantha And Fern
May 01, 2010

My old friend Samantha Power, a member of the president’s National Security Council staff, came to dinner last Sunday night after a showing of the movie Sergio, drawn from her book of the same title and directed by Greg Barton. The film is an HBO production which will air on May 6. Sergio was Sergio Vieira de Mello, the Brazilian head of the United Nations mission to Iraq who was killed in a terrorist explosion at the U.N.’s headquarters in August 2003, months after the American invasion and months before Saddam Hussein was snared in his cave of hiding.

Kaddish’s Nose
May 21, 2007

The Ministry of Special CasesBy Nathan Englander (Alfred A. Knopf, 339 pp., $25) IN ONE OF the best-known stories in For the Relief of Unbearable Urges, the collection of short stories that shot Nathan Englander into the literary stratosphere seven years ago, a middle-aged WASP sitting in a taxi cab has the sudden and inexplicable revelation that he is Jewish. The next day he visits a rabbi in Brooklyn, who informs him that he is a gilgul, or reincarnated soul, and sends him off with a copy of The Chosen.

Addictive Television
March 12, 2007

In 1981, Representative Jim Ramstad thought his political career was over. Seven months into his first term as a state senator from Minnesota, Ramstad found himself in a jail cell in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. His trip had started out innocently enough. The young pol had gone to Sioux Falls with members of the Minnesota Vikings football team to raise money for youth sports. But a fun night with friends turned sour quickly.

Altering States
November 27, 2006

VOLVER (Sony Pictures Classics) IRAQ IN FRAGMENTS (Typecast Releasing with HBO) It happens to almost every successful director, and it has certainly happened to Pedro Almodóvar: he has entered the Age of the Larynx. In this age, sheer talk--the interview--becomes as much a part of a director's life as anything other than directing itself. Almodóvar interviews flood the press, especially just before a new film appears. He is more supple and funny than most directors can be, but even he can indulge in interview lingo. (From a recent one: "What always attracts me, and it's almost a physical need,

Terror and Television
February 07, 2005

The speed at which popular culture now dramatizes actual events is extraordinary. I'm not sure whether a movie was made about Kennedy's assassination not long after the event, but it was decades before a film appeared that portrayed Kennedy's murder with real provocative detachment, Oliver Stone's tendentious JFK. Two years later Hollywood finally applied itself big-time to the Holocaust with Schindler's List. There were previous Holocaust films, obviously; but Hollywood gigantism in the treatment of the subject had to await Steven Spielberg.

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