July 19, 2006
Re "First Kyoto, now the World Cup," Current, July 16 Michael Skube's defense of the "American exceptionalism" that so many Americans use to justify ignoring, or ridiculing, soccer neglects a couple of issues. Exceptional works both ways: We can be taking exception, which we seem to be with regard to soccer, or we can be exceptional at it, which might be more in keeping with our collective national ego. For Americans, winning the World Cup, or even doing well in it, is really the point.
September 20, 2009 |
The documentary filmmaker Ken Burns has a story he clearly loves to tell. He was walking in New York City a few years ago -- on a date -- when he heard a man he'd just passed yell violently back at him: "What about Mingus?!" Preceding the name of the protean jazz bassist was a pungent (and unprintable) expletive. Burns turned to his date and reassured her. "It's just about 'Jazz,' " he said, referring to his 10-part history shown on PBS in 2001, which drew big audiences and critics' complaints that he overlooked key figures.
March 2, 2004 |
By the end of his career, the Pulitzer Prize-wining historian Daniel Boorstin, who died last weekend at 89, had come to be derided in some quarters as a conservative. In an age that viewed national myths with skepticism, Boorstin celebrated American exceptionalism and touted Western achievements.
September 17, 2013
Re "The end of U.S. exceptionalism," Opinion, Sept. 12 Apparently vexed by the "oddness" of President Obama's speech on Syria last week, Timothy Garton Ash's commentary is an odd piece itself. The term "exceptionalism" was used in the title but never again appeared or explained thereafter, hence leaving the reader guessing. "Exceptionalism" in this article could mean "isolationist" at times and "interventionist" at others, or both, depending on the zeitgeist. Parenthetically, for your "average" American reader, "exceptionalism" has often been thought of as American material and cultural superiority.
December 2, 2011 |
If you want a gauge of an America on the downward slope, you could look at the recent poll commissioned by the newspaper the Hill, in which a startling 69% of respondents said they considered the country to be in decline. Or you could just consider the soaring language of this season's presidential candidates. Mitt Romney, in a recent Republican debate on foreign policy, was typical, insisting that "this century must be an American century" in which "America leads the free world and the free world leads the entire world.
March 13, 2005 |
You'd think a nasty winter storm--and multiple SigAlerts on the 405--would keep them away. Or that the $10 to $15 parking fee would stop them. But no, the fanatical followers of Chivas Rayadas de Guadalajara, one of Mexico's most popular soccer teams, aren't anything like the leave-after-the-seventh-inning Dodger fans or the negotiate-a-deal-sitting-in-the-luxury-suite Laker supporters.
March 26, 2011 |
Sarah Vowell is an intellectual melting pot. Her cleverness is gorgeously American: She collects facts and stores them like a nervous chipmunk, digesting them only for the sake of argument. Her curiosity is fueled by indignation. She insists, like a good empiricist, on seeing the people and places she writes about. She is the queen of that great American institution: the road trip. Pride, irritation and a kind of slightly sour laugh that is a common result of high irony are frequent responses to her work.
February 12, 2012 |
Coming Apart The State of White America, 1960-2010 Charles Murray Crown Forum: 407 pp., $27 Charles Murray's new book is hardly the bombshell that placed him on the Politically Incorrect Ten Most Wanted list 18 years ago when he co-wrote "The Bell Curve" with Richard J. Herrnstein in 1994. But by providing a data-driven argument for inequality's cultural and sociological roots, "Coming Apart: The State of White America, 1960-2010" arrives just in time for the central political and policy debate in the 2012 elections: What is the nature of the widening gap between the rich and everyone else - and what can, or should, be done about it?
November 2, 2008 |
Sarah Vowell has a face like a clean plate: round and serviceable, perfect for dishing up history. On a weekday morning in Santa Monica, she is wearing a dark, square-necked blouse, hair in a slightly stylish version of a bowl cut; she wouldn't look entirely wrong in a starched collar. Vowell -- author, "This American Life" contributor, voice of Violet Parr in "The Incredibles" -- has come to town to give a pair of readings from her new book, "The Wordy Shipmates" (Riverhead: 272 pp., $25.95)
April 27, 2013 |
INDIO -- Thin Lizzy's "The Boys Are Back in Town" blared over the main-stage loudspeakers before Trace Adkins' performance Friday evening at the Stagecoach Country Music Festival, and that song title turned out to be a portent for what was to come. With back-to-back sets by Adkins, Hank Williams Jr. and headliner Toby Keith, Stagecoach on opening night felt like an old-fashioned guys' club full of gun talk, sex jokes and plenty of songs about trucks and booze. "Who's your daddy, who's your baby?"