New York City
The DiTomasso brothers may not have much in common with George W. Bush, but there's one thing the president and the mob-linked contractors share: Both have reason to rue the day they met Bernard B. Kerik. In 2004, Bush nominated Mayor Rudy Giuliani's former police commissioner to head the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). Within days, allegations surfaced that Kerik had faced arrest for unpaid bills, had close ties to some federal contractors, and had failed to pay taxes on his nanny. The nomination collapsed, calling the White House's judgment into question.
ON THE SEATING CHART of the creative fraternity, record producers occupy one of the rows behind film directors and in front of book editors. In recording, it is the performers who are the "artists," as the music press and the people who run the Grammys like to remind us. Producers, as a rule, are hired by record companies to produce in a fundamentally commercial sense: to supply product. The task involves extraction (from the artists), organization and supervision (of those artists and their work), and collaboration (with the artists), in varying measures; the producer's job is essentially sus
What this fractured and politically uneasy country needs right now is a unified theory of pickup trucks. This thought came to me the other afternoon as I was waiting at a car-rental agency at the Denver airport. I had reserved one of those small cars--what the agencies cheerfully call "economy" class--when I saw, there at the back of the lot, a lustrous Dodge Ram extended cab. I am not often moved by automobiles, but the truck aroused in me an acute, forlorn kind of nostalgia that I had previously observed only in country music singers.
BULL CONNOR BULL Last Thursday, at a New York town-hall meeting of the Congressional Black Caucus, Representative Charles Rangel took the stage vacated minutes earlier by Senators Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama and declared, “George Bush is our Bull Connor.” This comment is preposterous enough on its own—Bull Connor, the Birmingham police chief who turned hoses and dogs on civil rights marchers in 1963 and became a symbol of Southern racism, would never have had a black secretary of state.
Before a storm sank New Orleans and a pair of Boeing 767s gored the Twin Towers, officials at the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) drew up a list. It escaped notice in the months of second-guessing after the September 11 attacks but took on an air of prophecy within hours of Hurricane Katrina's landfall. There were three disasters, fema managers concluded at an August 2001 training session, that Americans should beware above all others: a terrorist attack on New York City, a hurricane in New Orleans, and an earthquake near San Francisco.
Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores The Hidden Side of Everything By Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner (William Morrow, 242 pp., $25.95) Much of the influence of modern economics derives from the claim that human beings respond rationally to incentives. It is a deceptively simple claim with many implications.
When the Rose Revolution began in the fall of 2003, there was little reason to hope for a happy ending. Twelve years earlier, the former Soviet Republic of Georgia had stepped from communism into civil war. The old Communist eminence Eduard Shevardnadze may have brought greater stability when he took over the government in 1992, but his corrupt rule also generated huge new pools of ill will among the populace. Some of this disgust manifested itself in small, peaceful street protests.
Walking down the streets of Soho these days, one rarely sees the light of day or feels the warmth of the sun, which is no small thing now that the low, yet constant, light of autumn has given way to the even lower and more fleeting light of winter. The cause of this unnatural darkness is scaffolding. On some streets in my neighborhood, so many buildings are being restored that the scaffolding forms a continuous overhang--a sort of ugly, makeshift arcade--stretching almost an entire block.
When Spider-Man hit theaters in the spring of 2002, I thought it had distilled the perfect formula for cinema superheroics, a careful blend of in-costume action and out-of-costume drama, seasoned with a dash of unrequited adolescent longing and liberal portions of Tobey Maguire's insistent adorability. There was no reason to doubt that the recipe would work equally well in a sequel. Clearly, the filmmakers also felt they had found a replicable formula; they just took the idea a little more literally.