The Perfect Dress (Just Ask Proust, Sontag, Bacall)

              One shows up now and again for auction, but the surest way to find a Delphos dress (if you would rather not exhume Susan Sontag, who was buried in one and might resent resurrection) is at a museum. Fortuny’s iconic dress (which was really the creation of his […]

Capitalist Fervor

    The highs. The lows. The toast breaks. It has been a dizzying day of being a capitalist. My younger son, aware that my elder son has an interest in investment, wanted to buy him a couple of shares of Ford for Christmas. When the trade went through, the stock was a bit more […]

Sartre Could Have Predicted This Mess

      “I’ve stopped watching the news.” “Can’t think about it.” “It’s all too much.” “We need some good news!” I have perhaps shared a few too many articles about the possibility of more violence, even a spattered, incoherent civil war. It felt cathartic to email my worries, but the recipients of all this […]

“Work Is the Curse of the Drinking Classes”

      Oscar Wilde preferred absinthe and repartée to the nine-to-five grind. The notion that drink was the curse of the working classes? He twisted it like a lemon-peel garnish, declaring that work was the curse of the drinking classes. And he was secretly in earnest. In “The Soul of Man Under Socialism,” Wilde […]

Confessions of a Hydrox Cookie

      First, it was my name. Not the “cookie” part—it took a while for me to realize how sexist that was, as condescending as “cupcake,” as hopeful as “Candy.” What is it with the sweet stuff, guys, wishful thinking? But no, my albatross was “Hydrox.” I sounded like a sterile chemical. And in […]

The Boys in Red Hats: A Documentary of “Tribal” Behavior

    The Boys in Red Hats (2021) is about the 2019 encounter between field-tripping students from an all-boys Catholic school and a small Native American group on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. The film is worth a watch, not the least because it is a mess of confused sympathies. Director Jonathan Schroder explains […]

The Heart Attack Grill

      Dr. Jon, the owner of the Heart Attack Grill calls himself. Jon Basso’s schtick is his menu: greasy burgers topped with cheese and bacon, malts with extra butterfat, Flatliner French fries dipped in lard, Coca-Cola made with pure cane sugar, unfiltered cigarettes, vodka Jell-O shots given in syringes. Food so bad for […]

Breath: The Secret We Forgot

    We breathe in so many ways. Huge gulps of air, the icy cold burning our lungs. Shallow panic. The heavy breathing of passion, first rhythmic then faster, faster, like a car rolling downhill without brakes. The daze of hyperdistraction, answering email after email, and forgetting, for long stretches, to breathe at all. That […]

Swinging Around Again

    Another swing around the sun, so I will try again to define what I have tried before: Let’s say you have good health and time. A clean little space, cool in the summer and warm in the winter, a bed that does not hurt your back, a fridge with nutritious food. You are […]

Separation Anxiety

I did try. During the Great Lockdown, I made a habit of driving to nearby parking lots and worked for an hour, sweaty and uncomfortable, in the car. Deliberately left alone, our new pandemic pup began the hour by wooing so loudly and mournfully, I had to force my foot onto the gas pedal. Then […]