Bob Dylan Must Get Stoned

Journalists have always been puzzled by Bob Dylan, but the confusion is of their own making. The pattern of treating him as a trickster whose words cannot be taken at face value was established in the sixties, when the rock intelligentsia wanted Dylan to be a political as well as musical revolutionary. He was neither, of course. His radicalness came from a deeply conservative understanding of musical history: He was reading Civil War era newspapers while everyone else was reading Norman O. Brown and listening to Gospel and Blues when music was becoming “pop” in the fifties. Continue Reading »

Megan Must Go

Season Seven, Episode Three: A very eventful episode of Mad Men. Two story arcs move us forward, though one (strangely compelling one) does not. Are Don and Megan Draper finally over? In the major arc before the first commercial break, Don speaks long-distance to Megan’s agent and learns that . . . . Continue Reading »

Invisibly Naked

Will you uncover your hair?” they ask when they hear I’m divorcing. I am taken aback each time; it’s such a private matter. The morning after my wedding, I tied on a scarf and walked to synagogue. My mother didn’t do it, nor did hers, but my father’s mother, who lived . . . . Continue Reading »

Mad Men Goes Meta

Readers of a certain age may remember a television commercial about a boy, a bottle of ketchup, and a hamburger: In alternating close-ups, viewers witnessed the condiment’s slow descent and the boy’s ever-heightening expectancy, all while Carly Simon’s “Anticipation” blared seductively in the background. The ketchup poured; the burger was put to the bite: “Worth the wait,” we were told. Continue Reading »

For Love or Money

Episode Two of this season’s Mad Men could have been titled “For Love or Money.” On Valentine’s Day 1969, some of the folks at Sterling, Cooper & Partners are clearly doing their jobs just for the money. Others are doing their jobs for love of the job, or for love of someone on the job. Continue Reading »

Ascetic Aesthetics

One Hopkins is enough,” said the poet A. D. Hope. By this he meant: Enough with the oohs and ahs over beautiful creation, enough with the “arch-especial” and the “sweet especial,” enough with “all this juice and all this joy” and all the “froth and waterblowballs” and “ah! bright wings”—which allegedly are what we talk about when we talk about the poetry of Gerard Manley Hopkins. Continue Reading »

Upcoming Events Roundup — 4.17.14

St. Francis of Assisi and the Western Tradition Friday–Saturday, April 25–26 New York, New York Another great April event from the Thomistic Institute: A series of lectures with Archbishop Charles J. Chaput, Francesca Murphy, Roger Scruton, R. R. Reno, Carol Zaleski, and Philip Zaleski. . . . . Continue Reading »

Frankenstein Unbound

“Those institutions and reporters were never as good as their reputations. . . . It was largely—and this was true for decades—a small group of middle-aged, left-of-center, overweight men who decided how all of us should see politics and governance.”Jim VandeHei, co-founder of Politico, was opining about the annoying nostalgia that still persists in DC regarding the older generation of journalists. In Mark Leibovichs’ book, ThisTown, VandeHei’s Politico has an ambivalent presence in the Reality Distortion Culture of DC. “Speed, information, gossip, and buzz” VandeHei celebrates as the journalistic premiums of the “New World Order,” and Politico has set the standard on all these fronts, becoming a kind of political ESPN meets TMZ in the Beltway, and its star contributor, Mike Allen, This Town’s Hedda Hopper. Continue Reading »

Close Viewing

The seventh and final season of AMC’s Mad Men premiered last night to a viewership quite different from the one that greeted the series’s 2007 debut. The inflection point came last season—when, improbably, this slow-moving character-driven period piece began to stir its partisans . . . . Continue Reading »