New York

How Hilton Kramer Got Lost in the Culture Wars
April 11, 2012

Hilton Kramer, who died on March 27 at the age of 84, was a much more complicated man than is sometimes acknowledged. He was both a neoconservative cultural warrior who liked nothing better than plunging into a noisy, nasty battle and an exacting aesthete for whom life would have been impossible without the sustenance of art and literature. I certainly saw both sides of Hilton during the decade that I wrote for The New Criterion, beginning in the mid-1980s.

Dubya's Tax-Cut Pity Party
April 10, 2012

 "I wish they weren't called the 'Bush tax cuts.' If they were called someone else's tax cuts, they'd be less likely to be raised." --Unloved former President George W. Bush in remarks this morning at the New York Historical Society.

Defending (George) Romney And "Mad Men"
April 02, 2012

Devotee though I am of Mad Men, I haven't had a chance to catch up with the first two episodes of its new season, so I'm hearing second-hand that Henry Francis, the aide to New York Gov. Nelson Rockefeller who earlier rescued Betty from her marriage to Don (and now kind of regrets it because Betty's such a head case) last night--which is to say, in 1966, when this new season is set--called Michigan Gov. George Romney "a clown." Francis is shown saying into a telephone, "Well, tell Jim his honor's not going to Michigan.

The Basis For Mad Men’s George Romney Tweak
April 02, 2012

As “Mad Men” advances through the 1960s, you knew it was coming: a shout-out to the moderate Republican whose profile grew during the decade to the point where he was, very early on, a leading contender for his party’s 1968 presidential nomination. Yes, George Romney had his moment last night. And his family’s not happy about it. No “Mad Men” aficionado myself, I’ll let someone else recap the moment: In the 1960s-era series, the character  Henry Francis, who in previous seasons worked as a political aide for New York Gov. Nelson Rockefeller, calls Gov.

Global Cities’ Success Isn’t A Zero-Sum Game
March 30, 2012

Two of the country’s best-known urban thinkers have a discussion underway at Atlantic Cities and New Geography about changes in the urban hierarchy brought along by globalization. It paints a picture of globalization as a zero-sum game in which one city’s growth comes at the expense—at least relatively—of another’s. They suggest that peaks—concentrated centers of population and prosperity—get higher while valleys—economic left-behinds—get lower. Global competition certainly can sap a region’s assumed strengths and lead to periodic even multiple decade long population decline if a transition in

Avant-Garde Persuasions
March 29, 2012

The Steins Collect Metropolitan Museum of Art   Van Gogh: Up Close Philadelphia Museum of Art   Van Gogh: The Life By Steven Naifeh and Gregory White Smith (Random House, 953 pp., $40) Nobody in the history of culture has known more about the art of persuasion than the avant-garde painters, sculptors, writers, composers, choreographers, and impresarios who transformed European art from the end of the nineteenth century to the middle of the twentieth century.

If X, Then Why?
March 29, 2012

Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention By Manning Marable (Viking Press, 594 pp., $30) I. When Malcolm X died in a hail of assassin’s gunfire at the Audubon Ballroom in February 1965, the mainstream media in the United States was quick to suggest that he reaped the harvest of bloodshed he had brazenly sown.

Why Mayor Bloomberg’s Equivocations on Civil Liberties No Longer Cut It
March 28, 2012

In an appearance last week on NY1, a 24-hour news network in New York City, police commissioner Ray Kelly claimed to be proud of the city’s record as a bastion of civil liberties. “We probably have more free speech in this city than any other place in America,” he said.

Your Must-Read of the Day, Wall St. Edition
March 26, 2012

Bloomberg has an absolutely terrific piece of reporting out today about how the big banks have mobilized to water down the Volcker Rule—the reform measure designed to prevent federally-backed banks from placing bets for their own bottom line. Here’s the gist: To make their case in Washington, banks and trade associations have been pressing a coordinated campaign to get regulators from five federal agencies to scale back the draft of the proprietary-trading rule issued in October, according to public and internal documents and interviews.

Some Works of Art Can’t Be Labeled as Fact or Fiction, and That’s OK
March 21, 2012

Like wolves and teenagers, literary scandals travel in packs, and the first of the spring are already upon us. First came The Lifespan of a Fact, a new book by essayist John D’Agata and his fact-checker Jim Fingal, which presents the blood-and-tears saga of Fingal’s seven-year-long attempt to verify a piece by D’Agata about the suicide of a Las Vegas teenager.