The Fate of Ideas

Last summer The Atlantic featured “14 Biggest Ideas of the Year.” My response—as was almost everyone else’s I spoke to about that article—started out excited but quickly deflated. The “ideas” were more platitudinously ordinary than inspiring: “Wall Street: Same as it Ever Was”, or the number one choice, “The Rise of the Middle Class — […]

Chasing the Bubble

A poster hanging in a coffee shop window on Smith Street promotes yet another Walt Whitman event. My friend Michael, a Whitman scholar, told me there is some kind of Whitman commemoration going on in Brooklyn every month. *** In terms of square miles, Brooklyn is New York’s second-largest borough, after Queens; in terms of […]


Over the last two weeks I’ve talked about Susan Boyle more than any other popular culture event in a long, long time. I’ve been discussing it at such length because the whole phenom is so layered—emotionally complex, endlessly arguable, and unabashedly wonderful. I wasn’t the only one captivated by her performance and the global response […]