Tagged: adam gopnik

Burn, Baby Burn: GM’s Fuel Protection Scheme

General Motors, the moribund American auto maker that’s been bleeding money (and slashing jobs) for several years, has a new sales promotion for California residents, who endure some of the highest gasoline prices in the nation. The company, which makes brands like Chevrolet, Pontiac, Buick, and Hummer, is offering a special deal: Buy or lease...

Sections of the Newspaper

The first section — the “A” section — of the Los Angeles Times, focuses on international news and domestic stories of national interest. It is here that one learns how ugly and cruel life is for most of our brothers and sisters living in places other than America and Europe. The next section is the...

The Sure Thing Called Imitation

The movies that most Americans watch are like the music most Americans listen to, which are like the television shows most Americans prefer and the books most Americans purchase (but don’t have time to actually read). They’re all, in varying degrees, imitations of something that came before and had some measure of commercial success. The...

Why Entertainers Earn So Much Money

A friend who appears on a highly-rated situation comedy on television told me that every time he gets his weekly paycheck he feels as though he’s stolen something. He earns more in one week of inspired buffoonery than most people earn in a year, but even if his pay was half — or a quarter,...

Eats Like a Bird

Of all the inapt similes in common usage, “eats like a bird” is perhaps the most backwards. (“Could care less” is just mistaken English, and “smokes like a chimney” is sometimes right on and sometimes not, depending on what one is actually trying to say.) Trying to be pointedly descriptive, many of us employ “eats...

The N Word

The Los Angeles Times, in a recent review of a live concert, mentioned that the rapper Kanye West performed one of his songs in a “G-rated” version. The audience, however, sang the choruses for him including the original lyrics, which, the reporter noted, contain numerous mentions of “the N-word.” Stories about West in the paper...

The Life Coach

Not long ago a new instructor at the local gym introduced herself as a Pilates teacher, kickboxing trainer, and life coach. This being Los Angeles, all three professions are common, but the life coaching bit is a newer phenomenon, newer even than pierced lips. I don’t know what training one needs to become a life...

The Big Gamble

My friend is a lawyer. By almost any measure he would be considered smart — and successful, and admirable, and all the other stuff responsible members of society strive to be when they’re not plotting to fire traffic-clearing incendiary missiles into clogged freeways. He likes what he does, and he’s good at it. He’s become...

God’s Responsibility

A reader sent us an email recently. It was one of those missives that circulate around the world, passed from one correspondent’s address book to 100 other’s, spreading virally until every third person with a home computer has seen the message. This one included images made by a sidewalk artist in Europe. His trompe l’oeil chalk...

Learning from Piracy

In a gesture of international goodwill — and because there’s a big trade meeting coming up — the Chinese government recently shut down an enormous bazaar in Shanghai that exclusively offered counterfeit goods. Merchants and shoppers admitted to reporters that the closure would be momentarily inconvenient but that the bazaar would soon move to another...