Everyone's President

Everyone’s President

There is something to be said for relatability in a politician. Even Franklin Roosevelt, whose background was as firmly patrician as that of any US president, managed through the medium of fireside chats delivered over the radio to convince Americans the he understood their situation and cared about their fate. More»

Same As It Ever Is

Same As It Ever Is

The crowd at Club Congress is sparse. A few true believers and some people who are only here because they happened to be here already. My friend and I don’t fall into either category. I told him we had to see this show because it’s important, because I respect tradition, because it’s Dead Moon. They’re setting up right in front of us, out on the floor. More»

Weak and Stable

Weak and Stable

It’s hard to keep up with all the screw-ups and psychodramas of the Conservative government these days. You’re afraid you’ll miss one if you as much as blink. More»

Latest entries
Miracle Valley

Miracle Valley

We were stopped at a rundown liquor store, only a few miles from the Mexican border, when I saw it. My son and I had been driving a lonely stretch of Arizona Highway 92, with little to see except dry grasslands stretching in all directions towards distant broken mountains on the horizon. He was thirsty. This was the only place to get a drink. And yet there, in the distance, was the tattered dome of a church rising from the desolate landscape. I pointed to the complex and told my son, “We’re going in.” More»

Dead Rivers

Dead Rivers

Arizona murdered its rivers and poured the remains onto cotton fields and golf courses.  Some of the largest water engineering projects on the planet have gone into producing suburban swimming pools and green lawns. Today’s Arizona could not exist without the diversion and destruction of its river system.  Over 90 percent of the state’s river system has disappeared. More»

Our Own Worst Enemies

Our Own Worst Enemies

Sometimes, it seems, that Israel’s security echelon is as bent on terrifying the country’s Jewish population as it is the Palestinians. Considering the paranoid prognostications of Major General Eyal Eisenberg, that the Arab Spring could give way to “a winter of radical Islam … and as a result the possibility for a multi-front war has increased, including the potential use of weapons of mass destruction,” one would be hard pressed to imagine otherwise. More»

Deserving an Audience

Deserving an Audience

Two weeks ago, my life took a slightly strange turn. My past and future collided in a clash between old media and new media. Let me explain.

Although I’ve never had a secure, long-term post, I’ve been working in academia since completing my PhD in 2001. Over this time, I’ve amassed a number of publications, including two monographs (one of which was co-authored,) a co-edited book, three journal articles and a number of book chapters. More»

Local Dialect

Local Dialect

Antonio tells me that after the 2006 uprising, street art flourished. There are still signs of it flowering all over the city. I was fascinated by the fact that the street art in Oaxaca could pass muster in San Francisco. Clearly, the street art in both places flow from the same urban aesthetic. However, Oaxaqueño artists have developed their own local flavor. More»

Indefinite Regress

Indefinite Regress

I’ve already listened to all of Stephen Malkmus and The Jicks’ new album Mirror Traffic twice, first in the car, on my hundred-minute drive back from Phoenix, and again on my home stereo, before my thinking about it starts to find traction. Part of me is glad that the songs are shorter and less solo-inclined than was the case on Mirror Traffic’s predecessors. But even the gravel strewn across their surface — a missed beat here, a splash of distortion there — doesn’t diminish their slipperiness. I have to proceed with care. More»

How Not To Eat Soup Dumplings

How Not To Eat Soup Dumplings

I’m standing in line to enter Taipei’s Din-Tai-Fung, one of the world’s most famed dumpling restaurants, when they arrive in a double-decker bus: rows of white people neatly stacked on top of each other, gazing out through tinted windows at a world that isn’t theirs. They begin clambering off the bus a little ways up from where I stand and even before they reach the line, even before I hear them speak, I know they are Americans. More»

How to Create Consensus

How to Create Consensus

On August 29th, The Jerusalem Post terminated one of its top columnists, Larry Derfner. The long-serving pundit lost his job by falling into a language trap that’s been a bane of peace activists for decades. Some will contend that Derfner’s dismissal is a positive for progressive forces. The newspaper’s political orientation is alleged to be centrist, but is highly conservative. Nevertheless, its diversity of views is said to span from Derfner on the left, to Caroline Glick on the right. More»

Where's the Party?

Where’s the Party?

“Grazie Napoli!” read the sign. Written by hand on a legal-sized sheet of white paper, it was taped to the end of a small wooden table in the middle of the square. Surrounded by young Italian families and neighborhood shop owners nibbling on aperitivos, drinking matching plastic cups of red wine, our neighbors repeatedly made toasts. A squad of Italian soldiers looked on at the crowd, expressionless. The contrast was a bit unnerving. More»

The Laws of Distraction

The Laws of Distraction

Walking across a college campus these days, one is constantly reminded how important personal technology has become for today’s students. From the sorority sister texting while her beach cruiser wobbles through the crowd, to the nerds sharing a portable videogame console, the scene is reminiscent of yesterday’s science fiction. The degree of collective distraction is truly stunning. Everyone seems to be tuning into their devices as a way of tuning out the world around them. More»

Greetings From Oaxaca

Greetings From Oaxaca

I came to Oaxaca on a whim. A friend announced that she was taking a trip south (I live in northern California,) so I decided to tag along. I hadn’t been to the country since I was a kid, when my family took a cruise to Acapulco.

My knowledge of Mexico was spotty. Besides a smattering of Zapatista lore and typically tabloid news fare (maquiladoras, illegal migrants, narco-violence, etc,) my ideas about the country came from a book by Oliver Sacks, about Oaxaca’s biodiversity. He has a thing for ferns. More»

Waiting for the Hurricane

Waiting for the Hurricane

Sometimes the mud stirred up by a storm contains gold. Sometimes it just shoots out the Superfund sludge that should have been cleared a half century ago.

Sitting in a post-Katrina New York, bracing myself for the arrival of Hurricane Irene, I turned to Grooveshark for the obvious song, Chris de Burgh’s ironically apropos Waiting for the Hurricane, from 1981. More»