Category: Culture

The Death of the American Movie Theater

Every time I go to the movies, I am reminded why I never go. I am not a huge movie fan, but my parents gave me a certain appreciation for the art form done well. I sat through enough Depression-era black-and-white films as a kid that I actually like some of them. I think the […]

We Could Use a Shelby Foote Today

Back in the summer of 2000, when men still said what was on their minds (sometimes) and before the hoary ideal of freedom of speech had collapsed under the accumulated weight of 9/11, the Patriot Act, Trump Derangement Syndrome, and the enshrinement of the hall monitor as the exemplary American undergraduate, I spent an afternoon […]

Trump, Christie Square Off Over High-Stakes Gambling

On Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court will begin hearing arguments in Christie v. NCAA, which ironically pits New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and President Donald Trump against each other over the federal ban on sports gambling. Both men have had big interests in gambling—Christie runs a state that wants it, and Trump used to own three […]

Artificial ‘Intelligence’ Turning Brains to Mush on YouTube

As the eminent philosopher Alasdair MacIntyre recently said in a lecture given at the University of Notre Dame, “The mind is mindless without the imagination.” And even though his subject was the grammar of morality, his pithy line prompts us to picture a “mindless mind” completely devoid of imagination. Something the exact opposite of ourselves: […]

An Interview With James Howard Kunstler

James Howard Kunstler, a novelist and journalist active since the early 1980s, burst onto the scene in 1993 with The Geography of Nowhere, perhaps the most famous post-war denunciation of suburbia. Written with the intensity of an Old Testament prophet, The Geography of Nowhere and much of Kunstler’s later work is chock full of obscure […]

France’s Harvey Weinsteins

The Harvey Weinstein scandal has laid bare the extent of off-screen sexual coercion in the film industry—but what about on-screen? While the first conflates sex and power, the other typically conflates sex and art. And one of Weinstein’s accusers claims to have experienced both. In the same year that actress Lea Seydoux says Weinstein made […]

Out of the Shire: Life Beyond Tolkien

If you look at what’s playing on your television, at what’s showing at the local cinema, at what video games your children are playing, or at what is selling in the young adult section of your neighborhood Barnes & Noble, you’ll see something that is at once deeply cultural and deeply countercultural at the exact […]

Orient Express doesn’t feel like Agatha Christie

Agatha Christie’s novels have become classics in the mystery canon—perhaps not for perfect literary prose, but most likely for the eccentricity and endearing manner of her detective protagonists, especially Hercule Poirot. He’s a stodgy, somewhat annoying little man, with habits and tics that hint at a struggle with OCD. But he’s also warm, thoughtful, friendly, […]

Blight & Flight: The Wisdom of Abandoned Buildings

I have mixed feelings about the removal of unsavory aspects of our history for the same reason that I am ambivalent about tearing down old motels and strip malls; because our built landscape, complete with its failures and its blight, provides a wealth of knowledge into how to live and not to live, into the […]

Thor: Superhero, Überman

On January 27, 1979, Saturday Night Live aired a segment from its popular TV show, “What If?” The host asks the simple question (from “Kevin O’Donnell, 10, a paperboy from Houghton Illinois”): “What if Superman had grown up in Germany instead of America?” A typical SNL comedic dramatization ensues, revealing how Überman (emblazoned on chest, […]