I report on the illustriously fraudulent parliamentary election in Armenia — and what it means for the country’s future — in the Weekly Standard.
Corruption seems like small potatoes in a climate like this. Which is one reason so few in the outside world have bothered to notice how Armenia’s political culture is reversing the triumph of its independence, guiding the nation steadily deeper into the lap of Grandmother Russia.
The following is my review in the Weekly Standard of “Are You Serious?” by Lee Seigel.
Judging from old people I know, the question of seriousness used to be far more important than it is today. Those of us in the perpetual age of pre-old are more likely to divide our friends and relations into categories of “racist” or “black,” “sexist” or “good-looking,” fun or boring, (politically) dumb or okay, than to think of them as either serious or unserious. I suspect the urge to make something lasting of life meets the same number of us it always has—but not as early, and so not with the same effect. You can observe its presence now in the 50-year-old man who decides it’s finally time to move in with the woman he’s been sleeping with off and on for a few decades, get married, settle down, and have an abortion….
For Liberty Magazine, the first home of our scribbles, I interview Garin K. Hovannisian about his book Family of Shadows — which, as Stephen Cox writes in his preface to the interview, is “causing a stir on several continents.” It is also causing a stir in several thousand readers. You can buy it here.
I review “Humorists” by Paul Johnson in the February issue of The New Criterion.
I have a piece on H.L. Mencken — “saving the Sage of Baltimore from conventional wisdom” — in the current (December 27) issue of the Weekly Standard. Pick it up on newsstands or read it here if you have a subscription.
College football would be much more interesting if the faculty played instead of the students, and even more interesting if the trustees played. There would be a great increase in broken arms, legs and necks, and simultaneously an appreciable diminution in the loss to humanity.
H.L. Mencken, Minority Report
I have a piece on the Weekly Standard website about the success and failures of the Jon Stewart comedy camp.
Like most of my fellow anti-cultists, I don’t deny the comic talents of the Stewart camp; I know their gags can hit gold. I’m grateful for the emergence through their channels of Steve Carrell, if not Lewis Black. I respect Chicago’s Second City improv school where they trained. Though darlings of the liberal-left orthodoxy, deviating from it on nothing at all, their politics don’t account for the problem, either. What, then, explains it? Why do I and so many others find it impossible to watch even a few minutes of The Daily Show or The Colbert Report without hurting the remote in our haste to switch channels? Why did we look upon the Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear, staged in Washington on Halloween eve, to be one of those nightmares from which a reading of Thomas L. Friedman: Selected Sonnets would be a welcome respite?
My review of “Eating the Dinosaur,” Chuck Klosterman’s most recent book of pop-culture essays, was printed in the September issue of Liberty Magazine. You can read it below.
A Century of Murder, Memory, and the Armenian American Dream
Go to the official website for excerpts, reading tour dates, and advance raves from Christopher Hitchens, David Ignatius, and others.
Pre-order it from Amazon now to get it before its official release on September 21.
In “Theatre,” David Mamet’s new book of essays on the art and craft of drama, the acknowledgements read thus:
I am very much indebted to the works of Thomas Sowell, Paul Johnson, Frederich Hayek, and Milton Friedman, and to those of Richard Wright and Eric Hoffer.
I have a piece on the longshoreman-philosopher Eric Hoffer in the last issue of The Weekly Standard (June 28), which might be on newsstands for another day or two. The online version is here, though you need a subscription to read it.
He felt his way directly to the piano. The moment he sat down, I noticed the nervous infirmity of which Mrs. Harling had told me. When he was sitting, or standing still, he swayed back and forth incessantly, like a rocking toy. At the piano, he swayed in time to the music, and when he was not playing, his body kept up this motion, like an empty mill grinding on….
It was as if all the agreeable sensations possible to creatures of flesh and blood were heaped up on those black-and-white keys, and he were gloating over them and trickling them through his yellow fingers.
- Willa Cather, My Antonia (1918)