Tom Carson

Tom Carson won two National Magazine Awards during his stint as Esquire's "Screen" columnist and has been nominated twice more as GQ's movie reviewer. Formerly a staff writer at LA Weekly and The Village Voice, he is the author of Gilligan's Wake (a New York Times Notable Book of the Year for 2003) and Daisy Buchanan's Daughter.

Recent Articles

Bastille Day Blues in the Big Easy

A walk through New Orleans the day after the Zimmerman verdict. 

AP Images/Mel Evans
Like, I imagine, a whole lot of people, I spent last Saturday night online, venting about the verdict in the George Zimmerman trial and taking what solace I could in everybody else’s equally futile vents. But I knew I couldn’t keep at it forever, and not only for my blood pressure’s sake. I wanted to make sure I’d be up in time for Sunday morning’s wreath-laying. No, not in Trayvon Martin’s memory. This one was at Joanie on The Pony’s statue in honor of Bastille Day. Summoning Decatur Street’s T-shirt shops to battle from her gilded mount at the French Market’s upper tip, she’s better known to history as Joan of Arc, and her statue has a special meaning for me. Partly thanks to George Bernard Shaw, who wrote a not-bad play about her, Joanie on The Pony is my favorite saint -- a category, I suspect, especially dear to atheists – and my first sight of her more or less sealed the deal on my wife and I moving here. Admittedly, my Francophilia is a form of Stockholm syndrome. Due to my...

All the News that's Fit to Reprint

Todd Williamson/Invision/AP
Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP T he opening scene of The Newsroom ’s second season, debuting Sunday on HBO, won’t do a hell of a lot to increase creator Aaron Sorkin’s popularity with women. Marcia Gay Harden guests as a brusque in-house attorney deposing news anchor Will McAvoy about a story the fictitious Atlantic Cable News channel blew badly—erroneously reporting that the Obama administration used nerve gas during a black-ops operation in Pakistan. “Fuck me,” our lady lawyer finally snaps, exasperated by Will’s arch banter. (She’s not alone in that feeling, believe me.) After a pause, Will—ever the gentleman—turns to the other dudes in the room. “Well, would one of you fuck Ms. Halliday, please?” he asks. You have to feel for Harden when her character is obliged to soften, smile, and concede that the joke’s on her. On this show even more than his earlier ones, or maybe just more noticeably, Sorkin tends to divide his female characters among bitches, waifs, annoying ninnies, and...

All Tomorrow’s Parties

Gay Equality 1, Civil Rights 0 – join us in wondering how to celebrate this Fourth of July. (Hint: not by seeing Johnny Depp’s new movie, that’s for sure.)

AP Photo/The Omaha World-Herald, Brynn Anderson
AP Photo C all it coincidence, but my bedside reading for the past couple of weeks has been the new two-volume boxed set of the Library of America’s Reporting Civil Rights . Awe-inducing and frequently thrilling, this monumental anthology of on-the-scene coverage of the fight for black equality features contributions by scores of writers, some rightly renowned—James Baldwin, Garry Wills, et. al.—and some unjustly obscure. Part One deals with the years 1941-1963; Part Two tackles the pressure-cooker decade that followed King’s “I Have A Dream” speech. Each volume also includes a sheaf of photographs, primarily of the writers themselves at the time. They’re often evocative ones, even if the era’s great photojournalism—no less worthy of commemoration—gets short shrift as a result. Anyway, I won’t pretend I’ve made much more than a dent in the set’s almost 2,000 pages. But that’s not the point, since Reporting Civil Rights could easily keep my idle hours occupied until Christmas. (Not...

Burning Down the (White) House

White House Down, when ranked among the other dull offerings of this summer blockbuster season, is worth its weight in kabooms. You will be entertained. 

AP Photo/Sony Columbia Pictures, Reiner Bajo
AP Photo/Sony Columbia Pictures, Reiner Bajo H ere’s a confession likely to guarantee you’ll never trust me again: I had a pretty good time at White House Down, the new movie starring Channing Tatum as a wannabe Secret Service agent who ends up as President Jamie Foxx’s only hope of surviving an attack on 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. That may or may not surprise you, but it sure as buttercups did me. It’s not even July, and I’m already deathly weary of movieland’s bang-kapow-boom blockbuster season. (On Hollywood’s timetable, of course, “summer” now begins before Memorial Day and is effectively over by August.) WHD ’s unlovely director, Roland Emmerich, is the German dolt who peaked with Independence Day 17 years ago before going on to make, among other screen supertankers packed with manure, The Patriot and Godzilla, not exactly good reasons to look forward to his latest. Maybe most to the point, I’d already seen—and loathed—pretty much the identical movie back in March. You remember...

The Great Gandolfini

The actor's genius was his knack for humanizing but not sentimentalizing his tough guy characters.

AP Images/Barry Wetcher
AP Images/Barry Wetcher There's a distinction to be made between dying too young and dying too soon. The first connotes unfulfilled promise: Heath Ledger, for instance, was barely beginning to realize himself as both an actor and a human being. Moviegoers can only guess what he might have gone on to. When it comes to James Gandolfini, on the other hand, we knew—we'd learned, we'd seen—what he was capable of. All we were asking for was another quarter-century or so of basking in it. Granted, that "we" is generationally skewed. However awed the middle-aged likes of me may have been by Ledger's talent, twentysomethings no doubt felt his loss more keenly. But until I got busy Facebooking—the modern wake—after Gandolfini's sudden death at age 51 on Wednesday, I hadn't fully realized how much people (OK, let's be accurate: men) in my age bracket had come to think of him as our guy. Not only the best we had, but the one we felt the most intimate with—and the most defined by. That was mostly...

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