Michael Hastings. (AP Images)
My new "Think Again" column is America Is Much Less Conservative than the Mainstream Media Believe.
My new Nation column is about how little anyone seems to care about the pro-genocide policies in Guatemala pursued by Reagan Administration officials, most particularly Ronald Regan himself, but also especially Elliot Abrams. It’s called “The Upside of Genocide.”
Regarding two deaths this week
I did not know Michael Hastings, but I was on the National Magazine Award jury for which he was nominated but did not win. I did however, write the short description that was read aloud at the ceremony. It read: “Michael Hastings' "The Runaway General” has every element of great magazine reporting in abundance. Hastings’ dogged and diligent interviewing yielded quotes from General Stanley McChrystal and his aides that were so different from the official story that had been published previously that they forced the President of the United States to fire a top commander in wartime. But more than that, Hastings’ used the portrait he painted of McChrystal to open a window on America’s war in Afghanistan. And finally he did so with a prose style so engaging the article had the rare quality of feeling too short… at nearly 8000 words.”
Neither did I know James Gandolfini, but: Once, when I was taking my daughter to trapeze class (or something) at the Chelsea Piers, James and his wife brought his kid. We hung around and listened to our Ipods. Adults could join in but it was (I thought) pretty expensive. Anyway, right before it was over, James ponied up and did the trapeze thing once. It was something to see.
Like a few other Jewish journalists, I was once asked to try out for a role on “The Sopranos.” The call came from Georgina Walken on April Fools day, 2003, but it was not a joke. The day of my tryout was the same day the Iraq war began. I was on a panel at the Cooper Union about the war with a bunch of neocons, but I was not terribly good because I was practicing my lines, which were difficult because the role was to be a mafia pundit, and so a lot of Italian names needed to be pronounced properly. I had not acted in anything since camp in seventh grade when we did a (disastrous) performance of Eugene O’Neil’s “In the Zone.” There were 17 people in the room, including David Chase. I thought I was ok, but they decided to “go in another direction,” which in this case, meant using one of their own writers. They did, however, give a small role to another aspirant, Leon Wieseltier, who managed only one line—“Those motherfuckers” and blew it, in my opinion.