Thirty-five years ago this Saturday, Phil Ochs, the earnest singing polemicist of the 1960s, hanged himself. He suffered from depression and other emotional problems, as his father had, and he drank too much. I was thinking of Ochs earlier this week, when I was with a group of legal scholars at a conference on “Bob Dylan and the Law” at the Fordham University Law School.
For many years, The New Republic was a distinctly un-funny magazine. Or rather, it was a guide to the world for the sort of thinking person that describes himself as a thinking person, a supremely serious and theologically liberal journal of opinion. In the rush to solve the technical problems of the era who had time for frivolous ornaments like laughs?