Film, Music, Visual Arts

Tom Smothers, a Lesson in Modernity

        I was a kid when they discovered irony. First, irony ore had to be dug from the comic vein, said to be buried in the Poconos, then smelted in the furnace of several very earnest cataclysms. By the time I came to reason, the culture had forged The Beatles (and in […]

Sympathy for the Prolific Rocker of Harry Arader

  Is there any reason to update what your heart holds dear? Chuck Reinhart posed that question in a nostalgic song he titled after a grocery store of his childhood, Midget’s. No one knows the music of Chuck Reinhart, except his friends, like me, and a few people who have attended open mic nights in […]

White Man’s Burden (Re)Visited

        Substitute teaching is one of the most important, underrated jobs of all. Thrust into an unfamiliar environment, in front of an audience that tends toward the hostile, these unfortunate people bridge a canyon of lessons from one ledge to the other until the full-time instructor returns. I had these substitute teachers […]

Reflection Is the Lost Art of Our Time

    Michael Eastman, a fine-art photographer who spends days finding just the right shot, just the right light, then works in post-production to turn his images into painterly masterpieces—has been running around the streets of St. Louis with a little Canon digital camera. He hunts down glass walls, windows, doors—anything that reflects. As a […]

Invitation to the Dance

    Choreograph? Antonio Douthit-Boyd is a dancer. Trained at some of the finest ballet schools, including the Joffrey. A soloist in Arthur Mitchell’s Dance Theatre of Harlem. A principal artist for twelve years with the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. Praised in The New York Times as having “a special magnificence.” Eager, always, to […]

“Christmas Music” is Better Than You Think

        Most of the time we have the freedom to choose what music we listen to, and when we listen to it. Then there is the Christmas season, when most of the music we hear is chosen for us by the tastes of previous generations, and anyone else eager to enter a […]

Now More Than Ever, We Need Jacob Bronowski

            Ever since the rise of “prestige television” there has been a corresponding rise in the number of documentary films and documentary series. The choice is bewildering to the point of being intimidating: celebrities and athletes dead and alive, every murder solved or unsolved, sommeliers and sushi chefs. All make […]

The Holdovers is a New Holiday Classic

        Paul Giamatti’s character, in a film directed by Alexander Payne, is a teacher and wannabe writer who is depressed and angry at his station in life. He abuses alcohol. Others think he is a sad sack and doormat, so he acts out in petty ways. He goes on a journey with […]

Why Your Child’s First Rock Concert Matters More Than You Think

        There are any number of life rituals parents notice as pivotal maturations of their child(ren)’s development. Among the perennials: the first sleep-over without parents, driving lessons, the first good cry over a desperately sad movie. They all have their place. For now, my own is watching my daughter evolve her own […]

Cartoonist Roz Chast Finds Herself in the Midwest

        The cartoonist Roz Chast, of New Yorker fame, was in St. Louis on Monday to do a reading from her new book, I Must Be Dreaming (Bloomsbury, 2023). The event was expected to draw more people than the usual bookstore space could host, so tickets were sold months in advance for […]