Author: Michael Konik

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The World As It Is

We don’t normally feature in this space books that are more than five years old. But “The World As it Is: Dispatches on the Myth of Human Progress” seems to us a most necessary read in these preposterous times. Authored by the brilliant journalist, social justice advocate and cultural critic Chris Hedges, “The World” is...

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An Unfair Birden?

Seems like a good idea. Eliminating automobile trips under two miles in length would be an enormously positive change. Moving people around electrically instead of with fossil fuels would be an enormously positive change. Getting people out of cars and onto their feet would be an enormously positive change. That’s why at first blush so-called...

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Confessions of a Luxury Hotel Concierge

For more than 15 years, she’s worked behind the Concierge Desk at several of the finest hotels in Los Angeles. Sabrina [her name has been changed at her request] will get you anything (well, almost anything) you want, because that’s her job, and she does it well. Securing dinner reservations at “fully booked” restaurants, hiring...

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Tyrese Coleman’s “How to Sit”

Offered as a “memoir in stories and essays,” the debut book from Tyrese Coleman, “How to Sit,” blurs the lines between genres and categories, focusing, instead, on searingly honest recollection of a childhood — and a life — shaped by unreliable women and predatory men. Coleman’s prose is spare, direct, powerful. “I am the product...

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A More Exceptionally Perfect America

Experts on matters patriotic, including members of Congress and the corporate oligarchs for whom they toil, believe that those of us who are fortunate enough to live in the greatest country on Earth benefit from a magical phenomenon known as American Exceptionalism. According to those who have made a kind of casual study of our glorious history,...

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Our Undemocratic Impulse to Defeat the Waze App

Vista, the little Sunset Square “capillary” street we live on, runs North-South between two major “artery” boulevards, Hollywood and Sunset. Because there’s a school at the end of our block, diverting traffic around the block to the East or West, Vista Street is inconvenient for those in a hurry. Most drivers take a more direct route, one that...

Vocal Music Delights

Two new vocal recordings — one from a likely source, the other not — remind us that genuine vocal artistry brings delight not quite like anything else. The human voice, malleable and expressive and colorful, vibrates with genuine (and profound) feeling on “Close Up,” by Sara Serpa, the celebrated singer, known for her angelic tone,...

When My Friend from the Rainforest Visited

When my friend from the rainforest visited the city, I couldn’t make him understand why the most important people in the tallest buildings were the most important people. No, I told him, they were not able to hunt or fish or grow their food, or build a hut from grass, or communicate with the spirit world....

Our Golden Age of Corporate Apologies

Some of the most popular and successful companies in America — Wells Fargo, Facebook, Uber — have suffered a series of highly unfortunate blemishes on their otherwise pristine public images. They did very naughty things. To their customers. Stole from them. Lied to them. Treated every person like a valuable revenue stream instead of an...

When We Were Ghouls

Amy E. Wallen’s childhood was different than most little American girls from Nevada. Thanks to her dad’s job as an oil prospector, the family spent her formative years in Nigeria, Peru and Bolivia, where daily life was kissed by exoticism: parrots for pets, servants calling her “small sister,” and dead bodies. Many of them. Wallen’s...