“Order, Chaos, Peace”: I review a biography of an architect of conservatism

for The American Conservative: Back when I was involved in the late-’90s conservative student movement at Yale, I noticed something. The libertarians, whose philosophy celebrated individual choice and experimental living, were normal and in control of their lives. The traditionalists were disorderly drunks who got kicked out of things. Libertarian pastimes included knitting and swing dancing; trads held contests to see which of them could punch his own face the hardest. (Always bet on the T … [Read more...]

“City of Good Intentions”: I review a local history show

at the Anacostia Museum: Sometimes it seems like the nation’s capital is really two cities: dateline Washington and hometown DC. The current show at the Smithsonian’s Anacostia Community Museum, “Twelve Years that Shook and Shaped Washington: 1963 – 1975,” is an attempt to bridge the gap–or at least to give official Washington’s view of unofficial DC.The show is one of those “social history” grab-bags: a display about public colleges here, a selection of dashikis there. We get morsels of a l … [Read more...]

“The Convict-Bourgeois”: My Hans Fallada Rediscovery Piece, Which I Want You All to Read

The two biggest things I left out here (mostly due to space constraints): Fallada always gives you a laugh. He has the satirist's eye for absurdity. His humor is pretty much always also horror (you can make a case that Expressionism influenced him, & horror fans will find a lot of scenes that use genre techniques like "the things that should not be") and so it turns up even in his Nazi prison diary. The whole vignette he opens the diary with, about the night of the Reichstag fire, is a … [Read more...]

From Hans Fallada, “Wolf Among Wolves”

[The police officer Leo Gubalke] sighed. If one considered the matter closely, the world was surprisingly full of obstacles for a man who believed in order. Hundreds of things which the less scrupulous did every day were out of the question for him. On the other hand, he had the pleasurable feeling, without which a man could not live, that he was not only keeping the world in order, but was in harmony with it himself. (I wish I could quote every single line of the tale of Leo Gubalke. It's … [Read more...]

Oscar Wilde, AA, and Pope Francis on Gay People…

...or, Every day is self-parody day.I did a couple speaking engagements recently (book me! eve_tushnet@yahoo.com) where I was even more rambly and woolly than usual, and I am not a productrix of machine-like syllogisms under any circumstances. I'd like to wander through some of my answers here, to find whatever useful marginally-coherent ideas might be caught in the wool.At one point I found myself defending Oscar Wilde, Moralist. My interlocutors were skeptical, and for good reason: … [Read more...]

“The Uncozy Christie”: Me on the Queen of Crime

at the University Bookman: Agatha Christie’s name is practically synonymous with comfort reading. Her publishers used to promise readers “a Christie for Christmas,” and her works are the inspiration for the mystery subgenre known as “cozies.” Quaint little English villages, low-rent lords and shady ladies, just a spot of murder before tea at the vicarage—this is Dame Agatha’s public image.But on the occasion of her 125th birthday, we might do well to remember that both of Christie’s most mem … [Read more...]

Standing in Front of Your Own House (While Black): Washington City Paper Investigates “Incommoding” Arrests

The chitlins were making Alex Dennis sick. Dennis, a 20-year-old with dreadlocks that graze his shoulders, found himself getting nauseous in his apartment while his uncle and aunt cooked soul food for Thanksgiving.Dennis walked outside to get some air, but ended up right in the grasp of the Metropolitan Police Department.Stepping outside an apartment for fresh air doesn’t draw police attention in, say, Georgetown. But Dennis doesn’t live there. Instead, he lives on Buena Vista Terrace SE, … [Read more...]