america walks bookMoonshine-CoverIf you were an editor, and you wanted to have someone review two books about drinking in America, you would look for one of the more abstemious writers in captivity, right? Well, whether they knew it or not, that’s what the editors of The American Interest got when they asked me to review America Walks into a Bar, A Spirited History of Taverns and Saloons, Speakeasys and Grog Shops, by Christine Sismondo, and Moonshine, by Jaime Joyce. “No wonder America felt comfortable declaring its independence from the world’s preeminent military and commercial power. Evidently, we were half in the bag.” To read the entire review, called `Drunk History’, click here.


will-i-amI recently had the pleasure of interviewing for the September issue of Success. He was very different from most interview subjects–he was very relaxed, very confident, seemingly without any canned responses. He was quick to respond to my questions, but every answer was fluid and detailed. I was particularly drawn to one of his answers, where he said “I never wanted to be a leader of a group. I always wanted to be the ideas man, the one who said, ‘Hey guys, let’s try this!’” And from little up he played that role. It shows tremendous self-awareness, and a precocious grasp of group dynamics, to discern that role, and consciously pursue it. I thought this immediately identified him as an unusual intellect. It was a great pleasure to talk to him about his many interests and wide circle of fiends and associates. To read the entire article, click here.


A new blurb for Commander Will Cushing, from someone who knows something about being a naval hero:

“Like many war stories, the tale of the young and rebellious Commander Will Cushing was tucked away into the dusty archives of history. Jamie Malanowski skillfully resurrects Cushing’s courageous adventures on the high seas during the Civil War in this action-packed page-turner. Beginning with Cushing’s youthful pranks at the U.S. Naval Academy and culminating with his triumphant sinking of the Confederate CSS Albermarle, Commander Will Cushing is a must-read about a daring young soldier whose extraordinary achievements have earned him a place alongside America’s most celebrated naval heroes.” — Senator John McCain

Thanks, Senator McCain.


bill-murray-day-toronto-film-festivalLast Friday night, Bill Murray appeared at an audience Q&A session at the Toronot Film Festival. As reported in the Vulture column of New York magazine, the night’s final question was “What’s it like being you?” Here is Murray’s answer:

“I think if I’m gonna answer that question, because it is a hard question, I’d like to suggest that we all answer that question right now, while I’m talking. I’ll continue. Believe me, I won’t shut up. I have a microphone. But let’s all ask ourselves that question right now. What does it feel like to be you? What does it feel like to be you? Yeah. It feels good to be you, doesn’t it? It feels good, because there’s one thing that you are — you’re the only one that’s you, right?. So you’re the only one that’s you, and we get confused sometimes — or I do, I think everyone does — you try to compete. You think, Dammit, someone else is trying to be me. Someone else is trying to be me. But I don’t have to armor myself against those people; I don’t have to armor myself against that idea if I can really just relax and feel content in this way and this regard. If I can just feel, just think now: How much do you weigh? This is a thing I like to do with myself when I get lost and I get feeling funny. How much do you weigh? Think about how much each person here weighs and try to feel that weight in your seat right now, in your bottom right now. Parts in your feet and parts in your bum. Just try to feel your own weight, in your own seat, in your own feet. Okay? So if you can feel that weight in your body, if you can come back into the most personal identification, a very personal identification, which is: I am. This is me now. Here I am, right now. This is me now. Then you don’t feel like you have to leave, and be over there, or look over there. You don’t feel like you have to rush off and be somewhere. There’s just a wonderful sense of well-being that begins to circulate up and down, from your top to your bottom. Up and down from your top to your spine. And you feel something that makes you almost want to smile, that makes you want to feel good, that makes you want to feel like you could embrace yourself.

“So what’s it like to be me? You can ask yourself, What’s it like to be me? You know, the only way we’ll ever know what it’s like to be you is if you work your best at being you as often as you can, and keep reminding yourself: That’s where home is.”