John Griswold

John Griswold is a staff writer at The Common Reader. His most recent book is a collection of essays, Pirates You Don’t Know, and Other Adventures in the Examined Life (2014, University of Georgia Press). His forthcoming book about veterans at Standing Rock will be published in 2019. He is the founding Series Editor of Crux, a literary nonfiction book series at University of Georgia Press.

Posts by John Griswold

And Just Like That, Marijuana Was Legal

For many of us who grew up in Illinois, the legalization of marijuana feels weird. Illinois banned cannabis in 1931, and in my little town, in the ‘70s and ‘80s, we called it dope, as if it was a serious thing indeed. My kids make fun of me now for calling it that. Governor Pritzker […]

Deepfakes and Other Disinformation

The House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Consumer Protection and Commerce held a hearing this week on the Digital Age and Disinformation, but it was the same morning President Trump spoke, live, about Iran’s retaliation for the Soleimani killing. The hearing on online tech got lost as we all watched to find out if the […]

When Government Works It Makes You Want to Cry

I re-visited the 10-year old documentary The Civilian Conservation Corps this week, as relief from the news that we were stumbling toward another war. Because of the timing, I found it more moving than the first time I saw it, on PBS’s American Experience. It was directed by Robert Stone—not the novelist, but the documentary […]

The Irishman as Teaching Opportunity

Martin Scorsese’s most recent film, The Irishman, is unusual in several ways: It is a Netflix Original (but had a one-month theatrical run). It is three-and-a-half hours long. And it (badly) CGIs the aging actors for flashback scenes. The film also could serve as bookend for Scorsese’s gangster-obsessed career. For all any of us know, […]

Cabin Porn When It’s Most Needed

In the brief interval between our extended family’s stomach flu and my sudden craving for kimchee (the mouth waters in both cases), I spent one convalescent day on an improvised bed on the floor looking at Cabin Porn. The blog, which began in 2009, features photos of cabins, huts, retreat homes, abandoned and repurposed buildings, […]

In the Homes of My Masters

Near the site of a teahouse for weary travelers in Bashō’s time, now wilderness, something big crashed around in the brambles and vines on a slope, under which I could hear a stream burbling. Then there was birdsong and a light-filled clearing. I did not want to spend the night with my audience.

Are We Allowed to Believe in Vulgarity Anymore?

I have been thinking of Vladimir Nabokov, who makes a connection between vulgarity and morality in his essay “Philistines and Philistinism,” collected in his Lectures on Russian Literature. The essay is an indictment of consumerism and not thinking for yourself—bourgeois life in the Flaubertian sense. “A philistine is a full-grown person whose interests are of […]

Military Sympathies, 75 Years After Battle of the Bulge

This week begins the 75th anniversary of the Battle of the Bulge, when Hitler tried to split the advancing Allied line in the Ardennes and re-take the port of Antwerp. It was his last major counteroffensive. The 75th anniversary of European Theater events really got going on June 6th of this year, for D-Day, and will […]

Christmas Curios

  Holidays are so soaked in feelings that their public meanings are often mere pretense. Think of those who feel, for instance, that the most important film of Christmas is the one about that guy from 12 Monkeys trying to machine-gun young Severus Snape. The emotional tone of Christmas for me is mostly light and […]

Trapped in the Drive-Thru

I was headed home on the highway out of the city and wanted fast food real bad. But I did not stop; I never stop on that route. The problem is not the neighborhoods. It is the side roads with metal debris on them waiting to pop a tire or get kicked up through the […]