Category: Thoughts

The Impulse to Take Offense

All of us, if we search widely enough, can find ourselves a minority group into which we can fit. Even if you’re a white male, there’s always something about you — your religious or sexual proclivities, your dressing habits, your viewpoint on animals or voting rights or the 2nd Amendment — that will situate you...

A Dystopia Called Nacerima

When I was a boy, one of my grade school teachers passed out a Social Studies article about a faraway country called Nacirema. This crazy place was inhabited by natives with strange grooming habits and fanciful modes of transportation and peculiar foods — or at least it seemed that way based on the descriptions. Eventually,...

How the Media Feeds Us Our Cultural Rations

If you aren’t one of the few members of the Media Club, which regurgitates “stories” dreamed up by public relations professionals, you may be blissfully unaware that the popular culture you consume is driven largely by a system of payola that the practitioners prefer to call “news.” The Sunday Calendar section — or Arts, or...

A Listener’s Manifesto

After spending the past week performing in jazz clubs around the East Coast, I ‘ve come to understand that some people go to live music venues for reasons other than listening to live music. Although the booze and food could certainly be found cheaper, the ambiance of a jazz club apparently makes the wining and...

How to Win at Football Betting

With the opening of the NFL season this week, thousands of gamblers, serious and recreational, all want to know how to beat the pointspreads, how to get the best of the Line. Many of these hopeful souls end up writing me for the “secrets.” Since the publication of my book “The Smart Money,” which explains...

Dog Fighting

My sweet old mutt, Ella, is napping in her corner bed, dreaming, I reckon, of squirrels that are slower than she and big plates of rare prime rib (bone in) that someone mistakenly, providentially, left on the floor for her to bolt. When she was much younger, thinking she was providing essential security for her...

The Joy of Abetting Others

As an author and musician, I’m usually concerned about the humble goods I bring to the cultural marketplace. After I’ve written or recorded, doing the best I can to say whatever it is I’m trying to say, my quotidian worries revolve around selling the wares, earning enough money to have the luxury and privilege of...

ESPN, America’s Gambling Network

ESPN, the cable TV empire, covers all things sports-related. Except sports betting.  Apparently the wry, hip, knowing, ironic, slick, and authoritative on-air broadcasters may discuss anything and everything about the sports and athletes they cover provided there’s no mention of the pointspread line or the underlying odds that swirl around virtually every event that ESPN...

Free to Be a Pedophile

Orthodox free-speech advocates must be cringing, certain that donations to their nonprofit organizations will slow to a trickle and, eventually, dry up like an extinct lake. What critics have been saying about groups like the American Civil Liberties Union is true: they stick up for the rights of the worst kinds of people, anti-social crackpots...

The Sporting Scene: America’s Morality Tales

The eternal battle between Good and Evil rages on. We watch (and learn) in awe, each of us better somehow for having witnessed Virtue collide with Sin. But America’s most instructive forum of late hasn’t been the Church pulpit; it’s the sporting scene.  The characters in these Morality Tales are so clearly identifiable, so devoid...