On Saturday the 20th, after many years of longing, we went to the Clearwater Revival Festival in Croton Point Park. I was very excited that the advertised line-up promised a chain of performances by Angelique Kidjo (below left), Shelby Lynne (v. exciting!), Los Lobos (!), Neko Case (!) and David Crosby. Alas, it was not our day. Shelby Lyne cancelled (Joseph Arthur (left), who filled in, was very entertaining and interesting), and then it rained, and rained some more, and then some more, and finally I bagged it before half the bill came out. Too bad!
After mouthing off about running for president since 1998, the mighty blowhard Donald Trump announced on Monday that he is actually running for president. It says here that he’s going to do well. Trump has a blunt arrogance that will sit well with the Tea Partying, Sarah Palin wing of the Republican party. He’s rich, which as we all know, buys forgiveness for a lot of errors. He’s a well-known celebrity rolling with a crowd of midgets. He doesn’t play by the rules, which will serve him well on offense, and he has enough swagger to help him keep his poise when his rivals try to land a haymaker. Somebody is going to have to tag him early and hard for his arrogance, for believing that an American president can decree his way through the world’s problems. It’s an attack that will have to be started early, probably by someone who won’t have the legs to see the ending. Ultimately, Americans don’t want a leader who thinks that everyone is stupider than he is.
By the way, Trump brought some joy to my heart when he said that he would like to select Oprah Winfrey as his running mate. In 1992, when I was at Spy, we prepared a parody of The New York Times. In our headline story, another vain and pompous billionaire presidential wannabe, Ross Perot, made precisely the same selection. Given all the terrible things Trump has said about Spy, it is an amazing coincidence.
In the spring of 2010, I walked into The New York Times and proposed that the paper blog the Civil War. Out of that grew the Disunion series, which from October 30, 2010 until last week did just that–wote about the war, in matters great and small, generally corresponding to the events of that day 150 years before. Before the series ended nearly 1000 posts later, literally dozens of contributors, famous historians and civilian researchers alike, combined to cover the war.”`Disunion’ has been like no other intellectual or journalistic enterprise I’m aware of: a sustained five-year conversation among dozens of historians (academic and not) representing every specialty and viewpoint,” wrote historian and series contributor Adam Goodheart. “It was a conversation that included an even broader and more diverse public around the world. It brought leading scholars and laypeople together in ways that I think have never been equaled. It truly serves as a model for those in many other fields who aspire to be “public intellectuals” , not to mention enduring as a resource for educators, students, and scholars. Just a remarkable achievement.” Much credit and thanks belongs to the Times, especially editors Clay Risen and Geeorge Kalogerakis. To conclude the series, the Times assembled –in their words–“an all-star cast of Disunion contributors and friends: David Blight, Ken Burns, Adam Goodheart and Jamie Malanowski”–to respond to readers’ questions. Here is that discussion, in which I was very proud to have participated.