Democracy and the Human Heart
January 26, 2012
The Village Voice gives out theater awards called the Obies (for Off-Broadway), and during the 1980s the Voice’s theater department voted to bestow one of those prizes on the distinguished absurdist Václav Havel, who dwelled in the faraway absurdistan known as the Czechoslovak Socialist Republic. In their New York productions, Havel’s plays ran at the Public Theater, and everyone who kept up with the downtown scene knew them well. The plays were splendidly mordant.
Edward J. Epstein Makes History...Again
January 25, 2012
I was reminded of this devastating analysis of the sloppy case against Dominique Strauss-Kahn when I read that his wife, Anne Sinclair, is taking over the French version of The Huffington Post. This factoid was reported in Mediabistro, an online publication founded almost a decade ago by Laurel Touby and whose financing was put together by the sagacious investor Bill Ackman and by less sagacious me.
One Year Later: The Failure of the Arab Spring
January 24, 2012
I. A year has passed since liberal America and the liberal opinion class, in particular, went ecstatic over the Arab debut into the modern world. I know that my standing in that class is suspect. So, being a bit flummoxed myself by the not altogether dissimilar developments in the vast expanse from the Maghreb to Mesopotamia, I conquered my doubts and made a slight stab for hope. But I quickly realized that I was wrong and left the celebration.
Quote of the Day, 'Huh?' Edition
January 23, 2012
[Guest post by Isaac Chotiner] From Gavin Polone's anti-Oscars piece in New York magazine: Can you really say that Borat didn’t deserve a [Best Picture] nomination but Letters From Iwo Jima did? Er, yes. Yes you can. Which reminds me: the Academy Awards is in danger of reaching a unique place in our culture--a place currently inhabited by the festivities surrounding Christmas. Very briefly, the Oscar telecast is annoying and silly. So is Christmas music, and so is phony holiday cheer. But much more annoying are the people who complain incessantly about these things.
Why Curators Matter
January 18, 2012
Going through “The Renaissance Portrait: From Donatello to Bellini,” a survey of fifteenth-century Italian paintings, sculptures, and drawings at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, visitors are likely to feel they are in the hands of an inspired storyteller. They are. The storyteller is Keith Christiansen, who heads the European painting department at the Metropolitan, and who organized the exhibition together with Stefan Weppelmann of the Gemäldegalerie in Berlin.
The End of the Christian Right
January 17, 2012
Is the Christian Right still a power in American politics? The lavish coverage which its partisans and their favorite issues have received during the current Republican campaign certainly leave that impression. Yet all this attention is akin to the dazzling glow of a setting sun. In fact, the Christian Right is a fading force in American life, one which has little chance of achieving its cherished goals. Yes, pious conservatives earned the underfunded Rick Santorum a virtual tie in the Iowa caucuses, and, last week, a large gathering of evangelical leaders nodded fervently in his direction.
TNR Film Classics: ‘The Age of Innocence’ (October 18, 1993)
January 13, 2012
The basic trouble with Martin Scorsese’s The Age of Innocence (Columbia) is Edith Wharton’s novel. Looking back fifty years in 1920, Wharton conceived a tale of love versus honor set in New York high society of that past era, and she embodied it in a full-dress novel. But her material would have served only as a short story, at most a novella, for Tolstoy or Chekhov. What helps to sustain Wharton’s more extended treatment is the attractive prose in which she wraps her narrative.
A Pre-Emptive Eulogy For the Huntsman Campaign
January 11, 2012
We are gathered here in remembrance of the Jon Huntsman presidential campaign, which passed away quietly last night in its home state of New Hampshire. Yes, many of its next of kin are still in the first stage of grief (denial), but the rest of us should say our goodbyes, in preparation for moving on to more conservative Republican pastures.
Enough Hand-Wringing About the Republicans and Religion
January 10, 2012
It was 1988 presidential primary time in New York, and I was on the press bus going from Manhattan to Boro Park in Brooklyn where Al Gore was scheduled to meet Rabbi Shlomo Halberstam, the Bobover Rebbe, the Grand Rabbi of Bobov, Poland. Of course, there are no Jews in Bobov—and hardly any in Poland. But, despite the fact that the Lubavitcher and Satmar Hassidim are the most well-known sects (and the latter notorious, too), the Bobover are the largest Jewish faction in New York.
Chasing Phantom Ships Post-Panamax
January 03, 2012
The end of 2011 brought discouraging news for advocates of effective goods movement policy, as evidenced by new developments in the standoff between the ports of Charleston and Savannah. As reported by the Charleston Post & Courier (h/t to Peter T.