John Boehner accompanied by Mitch McConnell and other House and Senate Republicans. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
My new Think Again column is “Have Progressives Abandoned Economic Liberalism?”
Not much live music at the beach. I have been watching the new Blu-ray of “Help” which is the Beatles at their most personally charming, and the music sure hits a sweet spot. It’s all pretty wonderful and it’s hard to imagine anyone save my daughter who could find it resistable without also being a terrible person. Anyway the Blu-ray pairs the digitally restored film and 5.1 soundtrack with an hour of extra features, including a 30-minute documentary about the making of the film, memories of the cast and crew, an in-depth look at the restoration process, an outtake scene, and original theatrical trailers and radio spots. An introduction by the film's director, Richard Lester, and an appreciation by Martin Scorsese are included in the Blu-ray's booklet. The performances include: 'Help!,' 'You're Going To Lose That Girl,' 'You've Got To Hide Your Love Away,' 'Ticket To Ride,' 'I Need You,' 'The Night Before,' and 'Another Girl.'
I’d also like to give a decidedly ambivalent but nevertheless admiring shout-out to a new collection, For the Republic: Political Essays by George Scialabba. I picked up his previous collection on the basis of myriad recommendations from people whose opinions I tend to share, but I had to put it down right smack at the table of contents when I saw that the first essay was called something like “Alexander Cockburn and Noam Chomsky are Totally Awesome.” Might as well try and sell me on Bush and Cheney. This one does something similar with Ralph Nader, but somehow I got past it—thanks, I suppose to the fact that George, whom I’ve never met sent me the book himself and wrote a nice note—and I find that, as hard as it is to believe, I actually find myself in accord with much of it, and almost always impressed by the vivacity and originality of the prose, despite my deep disagreements with some of its judgments. Anyway it could use, and deserves, some attention, so check it out.
I also want to recommend the audio version of “Bad Monkey” read by Arte Johnson, which is first rate Carl Hiassen and is appropriately respectful of Steve Earle and Bruce bootlegs. And speaking of “bad,” also Bad Boy: My Life On and Off the Canvas by Eric Fischl, which is a nice tour of the contemporary art business and what it does to people. Oh and I liked Rachel Kushner’s Flamethrowers, but it does not even begin to be talked about as a “great American novel.” It is a “good” American novel, though I much preferred Francesca Segal’s The Innocents (which is almost great) and Jami Attenberg’s The Middlesteins which is not quite as almost-great as The Innocents, but well-worth everyone’s time. For the most recent “great” American novels, I’m sorry but I’m sticking with the Jonathans: both Freedom and The Corrections by Franzen and Fortress of Solitude by Lethem.