In The New Yorker this week, Malcolm Gladwell has an alternately confusing and maddening essay about To Kill a Mockingbird and what he calls "the limits of southern liberalism." According to Gladwell, the Atticus Finch character in Harper Lee's book--later immortalized onscreen by Gregory Peck--was the novelistic version of an all-too-common southern politician in the days of Jim Crow. Gladwell's piece begins with the story of Big Jim Folsom, the Alabama governor who sympathized with the plight of black citizens, but resisted profound change.
Captain Ty Wiltz normally oversees the narcotics division of the Plaquemines Parish Sheriff's Office. But, since Katrina hit, he has been leading a search and rescue team deep into the parish bayou, which begins just south of New Orleans and runs nearly 100 miles to the Gulf of Mexico.
With Hurricane Katrina still over the Gulf of Mexico, Orleans Parish Criminal Sheriff Marlin Gusman, New Orleans's chief jailer, convened his ranking officers for an emergency meeting. Present in the sheriff's conference room that Saturday were most of his wardens, as well as the officer in charge of supplies and the head of the jail's kitchen, a huge feeding operation that prepared more than 18,000 meals per day. The sheriff went around the table, asking the officers if they were prepared for a storm.
Violence is scary. Violence is sexy. Violence is wrong. Violence is righteous. Violence is a problem. Violence is the solution. Befitting its title, David Cronenberg's film A History of Violence comprises all these definitions and more. Just released on video, the film opens with a pulpy paean to small-town murderousness, as two drifters check out of a dusty, rural motel. The air of lazy depravity is palpable; bad acts are hinted at--"I had a little trouble with the maid," one man tells the other--before they are revealed.