Tagged: adam gopnik

How Many Books?

Overheard at a party: A young mother complaining that ever since her pre-pubescent son discovered the lurid joys of Playstation video games, he had stopped reading. Completely. Much solemn murmuring followed the mother’s admission. What could be done, everyone wondered? How could this putatively heinous state of affairs be reversed? What we wondered was this: How...

Why We Need Celebrities

During his first visit to Hollywood, a friend of ours wanted more than anything else to see celebrities. He wasn’t interested in any particular person, such as the star of his favorite crime drama or the pinup girl action movie heroine whose poster he has hanging in his garage. Any star would do. “I just...

What Makes a Hero?

As the casualties pile up in Iraq, we’ve grown accustomed to hearing young men and women described as heroes, which would seem to suggest that there’s something heroic in perishing for obscure financial-political reasons that no one can quite identify. Recently, as suspicion has grown that certain Major League Baseball sluggers hit their record-breaking home...

The Marathon

More than 25,000 people ran through the streets of Los Angeles yesterday. Their journey, whether completed in a little more than two hours or as much as seven, covered 26+ miles and a panoply of human emotions. Completing a marathon is one of those rare life events that are so fraught with symbolism and meaning...

Apologizing for Murder

The Philip Morris Company, whose core business is manufacturing and marketing tobacco products, has started running television advertisements for the company’s Web site, ads that spotlight PhilMo’s commitment to helping people quit smoking. The spots assure consumers that a visit to www.phillipmorrisusa.com will yeild stark scientific evidence that smoking causes all the diseases that for decades cigarette...

Critical Acclaim or Paying Off the Mortgage?

Movie studios, television producers, and publishers distribute creative products in the interest of making money, of showing a healthy return on investment. Period. They aren’t in the business of making art, bettering the world, or leaving something of lasting value behind for future generations. They want to sell things, preferably millions of copies of those...

Remind Us Again. . .

Remind us again…why one group of people should be permitted to tell another group of people what they may (or may not) eat, drink, or smoke? Why is it illegal to make a bet on a football game but legal to make a bet on the stock market? Why is it illegal for a woman to earn money...

How To Make Millions of Dollars

Take water. Add salt or sugar. Give water product a name that sound nutritious or refreshing. Acquire celebrity endorsement. Advertise heavily, imbuing sugar-water with perceived value and prestige. Sell at handsome profit.

America’s Greatest Export

While traveling abroad in Southeast Asia, we shirked from inquiring eyes when George Bush’s coronation was broadcast live on CNN. We weren’t ashamed to be an American — on the contrary, we’re proud to be a citizen of this glorious country — but at that inglorious moment in history we were mortified to have come...

Notes on Les Miserables, La Boheme and Love

The fabulously entertaining stage adaptation of Victor Hugo’s Les Miserables is sold to consumers as “the world’s most popular musical,” an honorific that seems accurate upon first consideration, since Alain Boblil and Claude-Michel Schonberg’s retelling of the novel has been produced in every part of the world (including China) and enjoyed by millions of appreciative...