Cara Feinberg

Recent Articles

Is Star Wars Art?

T he man standing next to me outside New York's Brooklyn Museum of Art holds a PhD in English literature and a plastic, retractable light saber. He's been standing here for an hour with his eight- and six-year-old children (a young Darth and Amidala), and in the last five minutes, he's asked his masked son three times if he can "breathe in there." "We're here for the opening of the Star Wars show," the man explains, adjusting his glasses and button-down shirt pocket, checking again for his tickets. "[The museum] said costumes were encouraged." These three aren't the only ones to heed the museum's suggestion. Among the mostly plain-clothed masses gathered on the Brooklyn sidewalk stand Princess Leias with hair coiled like pastries, full-grown Storm Troopers, Luke Skywalkers, and Yodas of all sizes. The exhibition won't open for another hour, but Brooklyn is the last stop on the U.S. tour, and the museum expects more than a thousand people to show up tonight. Originally developed in...

Hitting Home

A leathery woman with a darkening black eye smokes cigarettes through the spaces of her missing front teeth and tells the police how her boyfriend slapped and bit her because he didn't like her grandchildren. Another woman tells a counselor at a shelter that she's tried to leave her husband 15 times in the two years that she's been married to him. Still another can't speak at all, her moans incoherent as she's wheeled out of her house on a stretcher covered in blood, her cheek slashed into two loose flaps from the corner of her mouth. These graphic details of domestic abuse come to us courtesy of documentary filmmaker Frederick Wiseman, whose camera has been mercilessly recording the often unpleasant aspects of our social reality for three decades. In the years since 1967, when his first documentary, Titicut Follies, garnered artistic awards and journalistic respect -- and an injunction from the Massachusetts Superior Court, which banned the film in the state for the next 24 years --...

The Bidness of Voting

Colin Goldman is trying very hard to break the law. But it hasn't been easy. In the months leading up to the election, Goldman, a libertarian candidate for the California assembly, has been running an election sweepstakes. He promises a $1,000-cash prize to one lucky winner to be chosen from those who sign up on his Web site and pledge to vote for him. Goldman plans to pay from his own pocket and is scheduled to dole out the cash in a televised ceremony on election day. Of course, buying and selling votes is illegal. In fact, it is punishable by a $10,000 fine and up to five years in jail, according to the Department of Justice. And Goldman acknowledges he's pushing the limits. Yet as of mid-October, three months after he set up his Web site, he had heard nothing from authorities. "I'm trying to buy a vote here," he says. "The funny part is, I just can't get anyone to call me on it." It's not that he wants to go to jail. But he had hoped his offer would provoke controversy and...

Freezing For The Cause

Chris Hansen-Nelson's gray hair stands out in this crowd. Out of the six hundred or so Bill Bradley volunteers staying at the Nashua Boys and Girls club tonight, there are only a handful of veteran campaigners. Nelson came of age in 1972, the first year in which 18-year-olds were allowed to vote. "We were all pretty jazzed about that," he says. "We were old enough to die, and now we were also old enough to vote." In his salad days, he says, he participated in many political events, but they were mostly of the anti-establishment, down-with-the-government, burn-Nixon-in-effigy sort. But now, in his mid-forties, Nelson works as a documentation officer at a securities firm and worries about his son in high school. Today, he's wearing a bright yellow baseball cap, and a guitar bandoleer style, and he's volunteering to get a presidential candidate elected into the system he once fought against. "I'll play the guitar tomorrow," he promises. "The best political events I have ever...

Frontiers of Free Marketing

After Sony Pictures admitted this June that its marketers had invented a film critic, other movie studios came clean with similar chicanery, such as placing paid workers in commercials and "suggesting" quotations to journalists. But in an age when the Internet has opened whole new worlds to marketing and public relations--realms yet unbound by clear moral codes and legal standards--the entertainment industry is blurring the line between fact and fiction in ever more creative ways. Search for information about HBO's hit series The Sopranos , for example, and you might find HREF="http://www.jeffreywernick.com">www.jeffreywernick.com, a fan site apparently maintained by a self-proclaimed Mob aficionado and famed investigative reporter. Wernick's site contains a biography, a publicity photo from a television appearance, and a list of books Wernick has supposedly written (including such highlights as It's Not a Banana, It's a Gun, and He's My F**king Brother ). But try to find his work...

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