The Sex Lives of Your Neighbors

In ancient Rome, handwritten copies of a daily gazette called the Acta Diurna were posted in prominent public locations to keep citizens informed on everything from military developments to the latest divorces—and you can bet which part was read most avidly. In colonial America, the New World’s first newspaper, published in 1690, made a splash […]

Utterly Clueless, Ahead of the Curve

Today, Tom Green’s profile in the world of pop culture is so marginal it’s easy to forget how prominent he once was. But in 1999, after MTV imported his eponymous show from Canada, the hyperactive slacker hit America like a virus. “He’s become famous faster than anyone I’ve ever been associated with,” exclaimed Brian Graden, […]

The Man Who Plays George W. Bush

The face of George W. Bush, sliced into eleven salmon-pink fillets, is neatly arranged on a six-foot banquet table in the sunken living room of a suite at the Venetian Resort in Las Vegas. This sounds like a liberal fantasy but in fact it’s a Republican one. The fillets are dusted with something that looks […]

The 600 Million Dollar Man

Jared has a last name, but like Michelangelo, Madonna, and Saddam, he doesn’t need one. When I say “Jared,” you know I’m not talking about actor Jared Leto or Pulitzer Prize-winning author Jared Diamond. Those guys have their constituencies, but uninym status? There’s only one Jared who can make that claim: Jared the Subway Guy, […]

The Sweet Taste of Liberty

Until June 14, Camp Gitmo, the U.S. military detention center at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, was a controversial prison—to some, a necessary response to the war on terror; to others, a Bermuda Triangle of legal rights where suspected terrorists serve indeterminate sentences—but still, in pretty much everyone’s mind, a prison. Then, Senator Dick Durbin, a Democrat […]

Twenty-Five Years of Post-it Notes

Once upon a time, the American office was a nightclub with typewriters—at least according to mid-century myths like The Hucksters or The Apartment. Formal dress was mandatory. Client meetings had a two-drink minimum and every plush blond secretary was as tightly tufted as a Florence Knoll lounge chair. On occasion, there were papers to shuffle, […]

A Higher Power

In America today, Jesus is pop culture’s King of Kings, a force in politics, film, music, and books. In the world of contemporary art, though, his presence is less established. While modern curators always seems to make room for dung-smeared Madonnas and crucifixes in urine, where are the works of genuine, unironic reverence? Not in […]

To Each His Own Self-Help Book

In the beginning, there was the self-help book. With its stirring message of movin’-on-up empowerment and its ten directives for highly effective living, the Bible is the cornerstone on which today’s human-potential industry is founded. Yet the products from self-help authors never garner the same respect as the book that started it all. No other […]

Open House

In the realm of home improvement porn, HGTV is the softcore king. Designer dominatrices who flagrantly ignore client safe-words (“Please, no purple walls!”) have no place on this channel. Nor do professional organizers who march around like Dr. Phil with obsessive compulsive disorder, tough-sorting messy homeowners into a state of tidy bliss. In an effort […]

Too Much Is Not Enough

“I am big,” sneered Norma Desmond, the superannuated silent-movie star in Billy Wilder’s mid-century classic, Sunset Blvd. “It’s the pictures that got small.” Today, Ms. Desmond must serve as the patron saint for any number of superstars wondering where the magic went. But now, of course, it’s not just the pictures that have gotten smaller. […]