June 2016

What if every book was worth reading? Not just the books with silver medallions on their covers, but every hardcover featured at Barnes & Noble, every paperback foisted upon you by a friend or a relative or even a stranger?what if they were all pretty good? That?s the sense one gets from Book Marks, a […]

Responding to the refusal of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church to attend the Pan-Orthodox Council and indications that some other Orthodox Christian churches might withdraw, the Ecumenical Patriarchate has called on all Orthodox churches to attend. The Bulgarian Orthodox Church?s Holy Synod decided on June 1 to call for the postponement of the meeting, officially the […]

In a 1924 article for the Frankfurter Zeitung entitled ?Journey through Galicia: People and Place,? Joseph Roth referred to this easternmost region of the former Austro-Hungarian Empire?and his homeland?as a ?maltreated, scorned corner of Europe? full of desolate villages and battle-scarred fields. There are some places where everything feels ?unreal.? ?In Lemberg it happened that […]

Muhammad Ali was brutal in the ring. It?s painful to watch his early matches with Sonny Liston, Floyd Patterson, and Ernie Terrell, which seem not at all like contests of equals but exercises in punishment and retribution verging on torture. Ali regarded these foes as not his boxing rivals so much as traitors to the […]

Does the outcome of next Tuesday?s California primary matter? Conventional wisdom says no; news outlets are already pinpointing the precise time of the evening when Hillary Clinton will clinch the nomination with victories elsewhere?three hours before the polls close in the Golden State. Naturally, this perturbs Bernie Sanders fans, who see it as one more […]

(Originally published on Jun 23, 2013)The assumptions in this story are astounding. Man believes he found fossilized Bigfoot head. ?I found a fossilized Bigfoot skull.? A journalist can go his or her entire life waiting to hear those six magic words. And yet, on a recent weekday afternoon, that very thing happened. Todd May, of […]

A survey by an independent Moscow-based polling agency has found that Russians believe their country has a trio of main enemies ? the United States, Ukraine and Turkey, in that order. The findings of the Levada Center poll, conducted among 2,400 people across Russia May 20-23, contain little new data other than Turkey?s inclusion in […]

Divine Punches

June 5, 2016

Muhammad Ali: His Life and Times By Thomas Hauser (Simon and Schuster, 543 pp., $24.95) For even the knowing coves, for whom the significance of Muhammad Ali as a boxer and a cultural figure is beyond question, his eminence may be best understood by means of a particular set of comparisons, of a set of […]

Great literature is biased toward the culturally upwardly mobile: People who?ve moved in different parts of society tell more interesting stories than those who are already at the top of the ladder. That?s the built-in limitation of great novels: You?re always getting a story sympathetic to the triumphant. In politics, this poses greater problems. Conservative […]

When we look back on our adolescence, it can be easy to assign a neat narrative arc?a beginning, middle, and end?to that period in our lives, as if the experiences that happened back then aren?t informing the interactions we?re having right now. The immediacy, mystery, and strange unease coursing through The Fits swats away those […]

The Radiohead Racket

June 2, 2016

Late last month, the Radiohead universe stirred. Postcards reading ?We know where you live? appeared in fans? mailboxes. The band?s website and social-media accounts were wiped clean, and then those same accounts posted too-brief snippets of a stop-motion music video. ?For the past week, Radiohead?s Reddit forum has been a source of wonder,? the Independent?s […]

What does it mean to be ?against free speech? in America? There is not a large political constituency for government censorship in general, and although specific outrageous situations?the Westboro Baptist Church, say, or ?Piss Christ??sometimes galvanize opposition, free speech is generally considered a core national value. Accusing someone of being against free speech is like […]