26 Seconds, A History of the Zapruder Film


The Globe asked me to take a look at 26 Seconds: A Personal History of the Zapruder FilmAlexandra Zapruder detailed, fascinating, and elegant rumination on the assassination film her grandfather had the misfortune to create.

From the review:

Alexandra’s book is indeed a “personal” history. And to be sure, it also explores the impact of the film on American culture. But the bulk of “26 Seconds” chronicles the comings and goings of the footage and argues for the decency of the often-maligned Zapruder family, who have largely remained silent about their role in history, one that prevented them from being able to fully inhabit the normal, poignant human obscurity that most of us enjoy. Making use of family and government archives, interviews, and her own memory, Alexandra offers a supple, tender portrait of a family lashed to history.


400 Years of White Trash

WT 1b.jpg

Over the summer I reviewed historian Nancy Isenberg’s masterful White Trash: The 400-Year Untold History of Class in America. Along with a handful of other books – such as Hillbilly Elegy and Strangers in their Own Land – Isenberg’s ambitious and compelling book has become one of the primary post-election reads.

From the review:

Of course, at heart we know that class marbles American society. Most Americans acknowlege that they come from a class that doesn’t satisfy the definition of an elite. Isenberg attends to this, writing that since the 1980s the idea of white trash has been “rebranded as an ethnic identity, with its own readily identifiable cultural forms: food, speech patterns, tastes, and, for some, nostalgic memories.” Yet this kind of class pride doesn’t assume inferiority. Folks self-identify as white trash while still assuming that there is a promise of class mobility in America. This attempt to co-opt the term fails as a tool for empowerment and becomes merely a cultural designator more than a marker of a position in the economic and political continuum of the country.

The cynical exploit and manipulate this belief, which is something to keep in mind during our strange election season. “We are a country that imagines itself as democratic,” Isenberg writes, “and yet the majority has never cared much for equality. Because that’s not how breeding works. Heirs, pedigree, lineage: a pseudo-aristocracy of wealth still finds a way to assert its social power.”

All the King’s Men + Livestream

Over the past couple of months, I contributed two more pieces to Louisville Public Media. allthekingsmen Most recently is this, a piece on the 2016 election and Robert Penn Warren’s All the King’s Men. 

And then there’s this, a piece on an incredible interactive musical sculpture.

The Fourth and Walnut Epiphany

merton-plaqueYesterday Louisville Public Media ran a short piece I wrote about the plaque in downtown Louisville commemorating Thomas Merton’s Fourth and Walnut Epiphany. Here’s a link to the piece, which also includes some audio of me babbling on about the plaque.

Somewhere in the Swamps of Jersey

At bit later this week, The New York Times’ Travel Section will run a short little thing I wrote about my badass Jersey City neighborhood. It’s here. Five spots was the limit, but I also recommend LITM, Porta, Union Republic, Hamilton Inn, Zeppelin Hall, Rolon’s Keyhole Bar, the Golden Cicada, and on and on. It is truly a great little neighborhood.

36 Hours in Louisville…

A few hours ago the “36 Hours in Louisville” piece that I wrote for The New York Times Travel Section went live on their site. I’m going to write at greater length about that piece soon – I didn’t quite expect it to go live before Saturday or Sunday – but in the meantime, here’s the piece.

UPDATE: Looks like a Louisville blog will be running a piece about me, and I will also be writing a piece for the LEO, so at this point I’m not going to comment further about the “36 Hours” piece until that stuff is done. Okay!

Stunned Silent for the Time Being


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