I Don’t Believe in Modern Love (But I Do Love “Modern Manners”)

Recently revisited Modern Manners: An Etiquette Guide for Rude People, my favorite PJ O'Rourke. I think what makes it work is the mix of elements. It's mostly corny humor, like the extended segment on food fights ("Use a raw oyster to show someone what a French kiss would be like if she'd married a reptile"). There's also a lot of witticism: a lot of peppy, preppy cynicism. But mixed into all that there is just enough genuine insight (the bit about how modern people have replaced love with … [Read more...]

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The Soul Searchers: Four Moral Histories of Washington, DC

In preparation for this exhibit at the Anacostia Museum I've been reading about my hometown's long, hot summer--the years from 1968 through the late '90s--and its aftermath. These are really just notes.Ruben Castaneda, S Street Rising: Crack, Murder, And Redemption in DC: Four stories, mostly deftly woven together. First is our narrator, a reporter in LA who gets hooked on crack before moving to DC to be the night-shift crime reporter for the Washington Post. Our man straight-up interviews … [Read more...]

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“Love Is a Losing Game”: I review an Amy Winehouse documentary

for AmCon: It’s impossible to describe Amy Winehouse’s voice. Crackly, crimson, fractured and sultry: That’s just the scratchy surface. “Amy,” the new documentary from director Asif Kapadia, delves into the jazz chanteuse’s troubled life and early death, but never forgets to show us Winehouse’s talent and craft—and her gentleness.“Amy” plays like a defense brief. There are villains: Winehouse’s father Mitchell, her husband Blake, and the paparazzi. The movie takes Winehouse’s own narrative a … [Read more...]

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The Mayor-for-Life, At Least

Marion Barry, RIP.Look, Barry started out as a civil-rights organizer throwing block parties in the hood, and ended as an advocate for people coming out of prison. In between he presided over a decade and a half in which DC suffered disproportionately from the violence which swept through all US cities in the '80s and '90s. I know it started before we even had "home rule" (ish) and everybody else's city also suffered and hey, at least he didn't declare a state of emergency and try to call … [Read more...]

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From “Infinite Jest”

Hal wills himself to stay objective and not form any judgments before he has serious data, hoping desperately for some sort of hopeful feeling to emerge. … [Read more...]

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From “Infinite Jest”

The 'base [freebase cocaine] frees and condenses, compresses the whole experience to the implosion of one terrible shattering spike in the graph, an afflated orgasm of the heart that makes her feel, truly, attractive, sheltered by limits, deveiled and loved, observed and alone and sufficient and female, full, as if watched for an instant by God. … [Read more...]

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A 1987 of the Heart: I Rewatch “Less Than Zero”

...because of course I do.So this used to be on Netflix streaming, but I didn't tell you about it then, because what am I, your butler? Anyway, you can still get it through Netflix Delayed Gratification. The first time I watched LTZ was December 2011, about a month before I had my last drink (so far). I don't know if it was what I do for a living--the compulsively analytical eye of the person who gets engulfed by art for money--or the emotional numbness and batteredness of active addiction, … [Read more...]

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