There were a number of reasons to be skeptical when I arrived at a very expensive bar in Fort Greene to talk with Benjamin Kunkel about Utopia or Bust, his new collection of introductory essays about contemporary leftist theorists, ranging from the literary critic Fredric Jameson to the anthropologist and prominent Occupy personality David Graeber. The most obvious reason to be skeptical was that we were meeting at a very expensive bar in Fort Greene to talk about Marxism. “An important part of Marxism is blaming others,” Kunkel said—explaining that this bar was the suggestion of a friend. “At least, in good proletarian fashion, we’re just eating French fries.”[...]
We've published a lot over the last couple weeks about the battle in Wisconsin over labor, and nearly always been critical of Scott Walker and the Republicans. So I found a reasonable 20-something Wisconsinite named Sarah Helms, who was willing to explain her support for Scott Walker and his bill. Her answers have not been edited at all.
The Awl: Where do you live, work?
Sarah: I'm currently unemployed since returning from my tour in Afghanistan. I'm planning on starting school next semester. I live in Madison, WI.
The Awl: How would you sum up your reasons for supporting the bill?
Sarah: From what I've read [...]
The last week of September is traditionally reserved as a time of reflection and celebration of one of America's favorite pastimes, and no, I'm not talking about post-season baseball here. I'm referring to the banning, censoring and otherwise challenging of the printed word. So this coming Wednesday at Housing Works bookstore, Mike Edison, the author of 28 pornographic novels and a memoir about his time spent at Hustler, Screw, Cherry, Penthouse and High Times (plus a stint behind the drum kit for ultimate freedom of expression advocate GG Allin) is throwing the third annual Banned Book Party. He's joined by publishing guru Richard Nash, formerly [...]
Damian Mason is a Bill Clinton impersonator, a corporate comedian, and a farmer. He attended Purdue University and was selling lighting fixtures in San Diego when he won a costume contest dressed as Bill Clinton and decided to make a go of it. Today he still does his Bill Clinton show but he also does two shows as himself: one for corporate events, and one for agriculture conferences. Mason is the kind of man that uses your name when he talks to you, and he asked me just as many questions about myself as I did about him. When we spoke, it was lunch time in Indiana. He had [...]
With the writers abuzz with talk of securing Amtrak Residencies, Tom Zoellner's concisely titled Train comes at a good time. The Los Angeles writer rode the rails in six different countries on three continents to research his new book. He also traveled from New York to Los Angeles on our often-embattled national carrier.
Amtrak appears to have recently scored a rare PR win, after managing to turn an offhand remark from Awl-pal Alexander Chee into an as-yet-unnamed but perhaps-soon-to-be-formalized program aimed at giving writers free or low-cost rides. Writer Jessica Gross has already done such a rolling residency; Chee will take to the rails [...]
The Awl: Dan Shanoff! Not long ago, after some scheming, you left a job and started your own company and its first publication, Quickish, which is sports-oriented, and in beta, and provides immediate, quickly done news and views and updates. You plan to expand beyond sports in the future. Dan, why did you do this?
Dan: I have wanted to create my own company since I had my first job, where I was employee No. 1 for a couple of MBA drop-outs that got some seed funding from AOL to start a content site to keep AOL subscribers enthusiastic and engaged to be paying by the hour [...]
Michael K runs and writes the website Dlisted, which gives a rundown on the day's celebrity comings and goings with crude humor that often verges on the vulgar (though he disputes this point). Our 3 p.m. conversation took place between a post that featured some pap photos of A-ha! singer Morten Hackett ("For being almost a half-a-century old, dude is….still doing things to me. Take on my no-no, Morten!") and one that questioned the authenticity of Soulja Boy's Twittered pic of his groin ("Is that a bottle of Strawberry Suave in your boxers?"). Michael K lives on Manhattan's Lower East Side with a roommate and a [...]
The Awl: Joe Brown, you have spent a lot of time in New York City and environs and you have been commended to me as wildly outdoorsy, despite your indoorsy day job as features editor of Gizmodo. I would like to know your secrets without you blowing up any secret spots. So tell me: if I want a good hike within reasonable distance of New York, and maybe I lived a little, so maybe not too hard a hike, wherever would I go?
Joe Brown: Spent a lot of time in New York? I am a ****ing native!
The Awl: Spoken like a native!
Joe: Don't [...]
If rapping is for bad boys, Shad has little business being in the field. The Kenyan-born, Canada-raised hip-hop artist with a positive attitude has been nominated for multiple prestigious awards, and was even deemed the #1 rapper in Canada by the still rather-conservative National Post—and that wasn't in, like, 2008 or anything, but just last week. On Shad's third album, "TSOL," released this spring, his lyrics address everything from how the same thing that floats your boat can also capsize it, to the time his sister taught him how to parallel park, to why rapping about rapping isn't that interesting. Shad is performing tonight at the Highline [...]
Stephen J. Cannell is the creator of 40 television shows, including 21 Jump Street, The Rockford Files, The A-Team, and The Commish. He has written 450 TV episodes and produced some 1500. His production company is heading up work on feature films of 21 Jump Street and The Rockford Files. Also: he is also a popular mystery writer and has written 14 novels. We spoke at about noon on a Tuesday while he was in the car headed to lunch with a writer in Santa Monica. He had already spent five hours at his desk working on a novel.