Tagged: essay by michael konik

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The neighbors down the street, a young couple with a dog, take great care to keep their front yard beautiful. They tend to resplendent white roses, a small menagerie of fruit trees, and flowering shrubs that consistently brighten our bucolic street. They also have a brilliant white stucco wall, about four-feet high that rings their...

Poker’s World Championship on TV

This week, the final hands of the 2007 World Series of Poker Main Event , the unofficial “world championship” of tournament poker, will be broadcast on America’s unofficial Gambling Network, ESPN. The winner’s name has been public knowledge since July, but if you’ve been following the taped coverage and don’t want to know who earns...

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...

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...