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Like a Diamond in the Sky

Deen and AJ arrived at the mourning house a little before noon. There were forty cars parked along the street. Deen rang the doorbell.

An Ordinary Man and a Nobody

If the war on terror can be likened to a storm at sea most visible in Iraq and Afghanistan, and in Mumbai last winter, its undercurrents rage in Pakistani society.

Berlin in Bed, or Three Cheers for Socialized Medicine

Most people go to Berlin for the café life, for the expat glamour and to see Brecht in constant repertoire. Others descend on the remnants of the infamous Berlin wall, now on the cusp of celebrating its first full generation of destruction and East-West reunification. Still others visit the shrines to WWII and their repetitive, repentant mantra: “Vergesst das nie” (“Never forget”). Not me.

Capitalism and its Discontents: American Casino & Capitalism: A Love Story

Capitalism has Big Problems these days. Even the most loyal Milton Friedman fanatic must feel the sting from having been bitch-slapped by the “invisible hand” of the Market. Looking back, it’s shameful that the many critiques of those who spoke of a flawed system and cataclysm before the economy collapsed were hardly noticed. But it’s certainly not surprising.

Making Labor Legal

What was once an unquestioned right is fast becoming a privilege: the United States now has a laboring class—or, to use a more appropriate term that we all wish obsolete, a caste—that is institutionally deprived of civil and political rights in order to raise the profitability of U.S. firms.

The Big Not-so Easy

Hurricane Katrina made the U.S. remember New Orleans. Prior to the storm, the city’s proud citizens and talented musicians kept alive the unique and irreplaceable local culture, while bead and booze-craving college co-eds never missed an opportunity to stop in the Crescent City. But the U.S. government had seemingly decided that if it closed its eyes, clicked its heels, and wished New Orleans away, the city’s failing school system, poverty, faulty levees, corrupt political apparatus, and rampant crime would just disappear into the Mississippi. Katrina made it impossible to ignore those problems any longer.

Burning Down the House

When I moved down to South Texas in 2005, I quickly learned the newly minted gospel of Rio Grande Valley real estate. One, the McAllen metropolitan area was an indisputable boomtown, its growth fueled by NAFTA and ample sunshine. Two, you could live the good life here on the cheap; spacious, tile-roofed houses were continually springing up, generous loans were easy to get, and property values were certain to rise.

Inside the Fed

Until recently, what most of us knew of The Federal Reserve System came from the popular press’s breathless coverage of its interest rate announcements, especially during the celebrated reign of “rock-star” former chairman Alan Greenspan. The story was always the same: how will the markets react to a rate cut or hike?

A Violent Ride

Before The Adderall Diaries, Stephen Elliott had written six books. Two were non-fiction accounts of his personal experience (with, respectively: politics and BDSM), and four were novels that, by his own admission, were based on his own life. His friends were advising him to find new subject material, to get outside himself. But it was difficult.

Area Man Interviews Humor Writer

The Onion’s forthcoming Our Front Pages is one of the rare cases in which one gets exactly what is advertised upon purchase. The book is a massive collection of front pages from the venerable satiric newspaper; while not fully comprehensive, the book includes dozens of memorable front pages from each year of The Onion’s existence.

Welcome to the Book Club

Such was the comment left on the San Francisco literary website The Rumpus in response to a blog post on “In Print We Trust,” a piece first published in the Brooklyn Rail’s July issue. Writing on the blog-to-book phenomenon that has swept the publishing industry in recent months, I wondered, “how strangely anachronistic is it that those who participate in perhaps the most monumental democratic exercise ever—and who do so daily, often for a living—would seek to tame the great, unbridled, immaterial beast that is the Internet with some high-gloss stock and two binding boards?”

The Learning Table

Why is it that serious food people so often seem to have been born thin and picky? It seems impossible that they go from being chubby little children stuffing themselves with those awful, prepackaged, soggy cone things from the ice cream truck into epicures who find sorbet a necessary palate cleanser between courses.

In the Mirror

Photographers will go to lengths to remain unnoticed by the people they photograph, hoping to capture a quality that disappears when their subjects recognize that they are being viewed through a lens.


The Brooklyn Rail

OCT 2009

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