My new “Think Again” column is is called “The Murdoch Empire’s Heart of Darkness” and it’s here.
My new Nation column is called “The Twilight of Social Democracy” and it’s a report from the conference in honor of Tony Judt in Paris, and it’s here.
At dinner a while back, Sam Seder reminded me that I have the honor of being the only guest ever on “The Majority Report” to send a drink back on the air. We are at the HBO Comedy festival in Aspen with Janeane Garofalo back in 2005 here and the drink goes back at around 14:00. I think it had an olive instead of a twist or else it was straight up instead of on the rocks. (It’s always something.)
I have a bunch of reviews coming, I promise, but in the meantime here’s an Alter-review by Reed:
Our Media Ourselves
By Reed Richardson
I’ll be honest, I don’t quite know what to make of Brooke Gladstone’s The Influencing Machine. Gladstone, the longtime host of NPR’s weekend show “On the Media,” has written a book of media criticism that, it’s safe to say, looks unlike any other in the genre. That’s because, as she notes in the book’s Acknowledgements: “I wanted to write a comic book long before I wanted to write a book about the media.” So, when Gladstone, an admitted sci-fi geek, couldn’t make a futuristic graphic novel about the press work out, she turned back to her day job for inspiration.
That’s right, Gladstone’s book is a work of graphic nonfiction, which is a book category that has yet to reach its full potential, based on the great difficulty I had in locating it in my local bookstore and library. Illustrated in a semi-realist, two-color style by Brooklyn-based alternative cartoonist Josh Neufeld, “The Influencing Machine” delves into the history of the media in a series of set pieces fleshed out in typical cartoon balloon-text-and-panel fashion.
Some of these panels are fairly routine drawings of talking heads, but others, like the full-page image of a swirling stream of objective journalists forever stuck in Dante’s Limbo, are quite clever, well executed works of art. And, as appears on that page, Gladstone’s avatar—intentionally drawn as a plain black-haired, black-bespectacled, black-clad, and black-booted caricature—travels throughout the book as a sort of tour guide for the reader, interjecting commentary between the many experts and sources cited (the book has eight pages of endnotes), all while driving the narrative along.