In his masterful blend of biography and novel, Marilyn, Norman Mailer invented the word “factoid” to describe untrue ideas many people accept as real only because they have appeared in the mass media for many years. “It is possible,” Mailer wrote, “that Richard Nixon has spoken in nothing but factoids for his entire political career.”
Donald Trump, like no other president of American history (not even Nixon), is a factoid politician.
In my new column at Salon, I continue to explore my love and enthusiasm for the magnificent work of the late and great Jim Harrison.
Harrison’s new book, a posthumous collection of essays on food, wine, pleasure, and art, acts as a manifesto for Epicurean hedonism. It is a joy to read, but also subversive in a largely Puritanical culture.
In an era of phony vulgarity, Alicia Keys represents wisdom, authenticity, and genuine artistic vision.
It is impossible to imagine how any sentient human being is not in love with Alicia Keys. Her beauty, no matter what she’s wearing, is so powerful it becomes as poetic as the lyrics of urban, street-smart gospel that animates her latest record, “Here.” Her sensual grace, and effortless charisma, find melodic accompaniment in her intelligence, wit and impassioned investment in the ongoing struggle to inspire individuals to dream without a leash, while attempting to tame the ugly impulses of sexism and racism rampant throughout society.
In my new column for Salon, I examine how the manipulation of Americans’ sympathy and “support for the troops” shuts down intelligent and important debates on US foreign policy, Pentagon spending, and scandals of sexual assault within the armed services.
In my new column at Salon, I explore the terrifying possibility that Donald Trump is not an insincere conman, but that he is genuinely paranoid, stupid, and delusional. The power of propaganda, from the right wing, has steadily warped the minds of millions of Americans. It appears that Trump is one of them. Imagine your crazy uncle as the most powerful man in the universe.
In my new column for Salon, I review the new record, Hard Love, from Strand of Oaks; calling it a rock ‘n’ roll masterpiece. Tim Showalter, the chief songwriter and frontman for the band, brilliantly and movingly explores the ecstasy and agony of the search for adult pleasure.
There are few writers worthy of such high distinction, but to read Rita Dove is to encounter the transformative. Her feeling comes in aid of your feeling. Suddenly, you believe you have undergone an alteration of mind and spirit. Dove’s poetry breathes life onto the page and into the reader.
The Pulitzer Prize committee shared this assessment, awarding her the prize for poetry in 1987 for her beautiful, biographical treatment of her grandparents through a series of interconnected poems, “Thomas and Beulah.” Dove also received the National Medal of Arts commendation from President Barack Obama, who complimented her singular ability to “blend beauty, lyricism, critique, and politics.”
In a national moment of suffocation, it is for our civic health that we turn to those voices that offer the relief of oxygen.
Earlier this week, I interviewed Rita Dove about the power of poetry and the necessity of the arts, especially in times of political trouble and terror.
I began devouring Michael Eric Dyson’s work as a high school student, eager to learn about the world, and study the craft of essayistic writing. He quickly became inspirational and foundational to my intellectual and literary development. It is difficult to conceive of myself as a thinker and writer without the influence of Dyson.
Recently, I had the pleasure of spending a few hours with Dyson during the Chicago stop on his book tour. We discussed a new book, Tears We Cannot Stop: A Sermon to White America, along with a wide range of issues pertaining to race, culture, and politics.
In my new column for Salon, I appraise the high value of Dyson’s analysis and rhetorical style, and offer some of the most provocative and poignant excerpts from our conversation.